American double standards and the unrest in Poland
THE White House in Washington has twice censured the Polish government over using force to end its current wave of strikes, and the State Department's deputy secretary of state, John Whitehead, has warned of economic sanctions and hinted that President Reagan's scheduled trip to Moscow later this month might be canceled. There has been no serious strike situation in the United States during these events in Poland. This puts the US government in a better relative position than it was back in 1980 and 1981, when Poland's Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski was breaking the independent Polish union called Solidarity.
At that time, President Reagan was in the process of breaking the air traffic controllers' strike in the US and sending some of the leaders of the union to jail. There was a photograph of the head of the local Norfolk, Va., air traffic union in jail. It was published worldwide. General Jaruzelski cited the photograph as justification for what he was doing in Poland.
Another incident in that affair is remembered. President Reagan censured the Polish government for violating the rules of the International Labor Organization, the ILO, which authorizes establishment of independent unions. The US is not itself a signatory of the convention establishing the ILO.
General Jaruzelski used riot police to enter the steel mills at Nowa Huta. According to the strikers, 31 people were injured. The government denies there were injuries. The riot police did not enter the shipyard at Gdansk and there was no violence there.
Polish workers were killed during the suppression of Solidarity in 1981. The United States' record in labor disputes is not perfect. The latest fatality I find in a cursory search is of one killed, in an accident, during the 47-day Greyhound bus strike of 1983.
If anyone was killed in more recent labor unrest in the United States, I hope someone will inform me. There was far more strike-related bloodshed in the US in earlier times.
The last time US troops were used in strike-breaking was in 1897, when President Grover Cleveland broke the Pullman strike in Chicago.
Working men and women are theoretically free to form independent unions of their own choosing in the US today, but AFL-CIO spokesmen claim that during the Reagan years it has in practice become almost impossible to form a new union. The number of union workers has declined and the number of ``open shops'' has expanded.
The US President has recently again protested against denial of human rights in the Soviet Union and Poland, but Mr. Reagan has yet to speak out against the use of force and violence by Israeli troops against Palestinians.
The latest figures show that at least 185 Palestinians, mostly young, have been killed during the fighting in the occupied territories. Two Israelis have died.
Under international law, it is the duty of the Israeli occupying troops to protect the residents and citizens of the occupied territories in their personal safety and in their property.
Since the Israeli occupation began in 1967, about 65,000 Israelis have been allowed to enter the occupied territories and build settlements there.
This is unlawful under international law and was recognized as such by Israeli governments before the Menachem Begin period.
The settlements were consistently termed ``illegal'' by the US until the Reagan administration. The illegal settlers have been helped to absorb Arab territory by the occupation forces.
Jews are now reported to control half of the citrus groves in the Jordan Valley and more than half of all the occupied land. (See the article by John P. Tarpey in the May 5 Monitor, Page 13.) Suppression of resistance to these occupation policies continues, along with daily casualties.
By any objective standard, the Palestinians are being treated more violently, unfairly, and illegally by the troops of the Israeli occupation than the Poles are being treated by their own government. Mr. Reagan protests the second, but not the first.