An example of one British Trade Union’s codependency with “oppressed Palestinians”
In September 2011, the UK Trades Union Congress, the umbrella organisation for the UK trade union movement, withdrew its links with Histadrut, its equivalent organisation in Israel, links which had been in place since the 1920′s.
Seventeen of the largest UK trades unions are affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which to any intelligent observer, has solidarity only with Palestinians’ misappropriated and self-perpetuated victim status which it does its level best to maintain. The PSC is a key player in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, directed at democratic Israel alone, rather than at the many ruinous and oppressive dictatorships elsewhere in the world. Those attempts to boycott also attach to Jewish academics and union members at UK universities who support Israel’s right to exist, and whose association with this anti-Israel boycott, creates a ‘ “hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment” for Jews.” ‘
For the PSC is antisemitic as well as Israel-hating. Its unhealthy codependent relationship with the Palestinian objects of its pity bodes ill for them, for both parties in this codependency have a vested interest, the PSC in not helping Palestinians to move towards peaceful state-building and the Palestinians themselves, as so often in the past, remaining their usual belligerent self-pitying selves. And it has become parasitic upon UK trades unions too.
A friend recently sent me an exchange of correspondence she had had with Len McClusky, the Chair of UNITE, one of the unions affiliated to the PSC, when she wrote to him in complaint about his statement on behalf of the union. She gave me permission to reproduce their subsequent exchange of correspondence which follows and is self-explanatory. My friend’s replies to McLuskey are in bold italics below the points he makes
McL: “Since making a statement on behalf of the union unreservedly condemning the recent Israeli assault on Palestinians in Gaza I have received a number of e-mails, some remarkably similar in content, from members of the public (few, if any, appear to be members of Unite) taking me to task for a variety of what are in reality, imagined or contrived, offences.
ANSWER: “…remarkably similar in content”? Are you perchance implying that well-placed criticism of your stance is somehow concerted? Please confirm that you are not.
(This is a very important point. Far too often detractors from Israel or Jew-haters accuse their critics of acting in concert, as if they were afraid that their criticisms would not be meaningful if they acted alone. This is also very close to the common antisemitic trope that Jews/Israelis are part of a sinister, organised “gang”).
McL: “ Some have sought to use our statement to make a tenuous link between the union and Hamas, and by association with the Muslim Brotherhood. It is clear, however, in the original statement that Hamas was mentioned just once, in the context of being the winners of the Palestinian parliamentary elections. No political or other support has been offered by Unite to Hamas and we remain wary of it, not least because of the banishment of the PGFTU from Gaza when Hamas assumed the government there.
ANSWER: This is disingenuous in the extreme and, with respect, shows your ignorance of the political situation brought about by the Hamas. Although the Hamas may have been elected “democratically” (and given its propensity to threaten violence against any who oppose it, the nature of that “democracy” should be questioned by any intelligent person) it seems that you have not thought about what happened to its “democratic” opposition once the Hamas achieved victory. Have you forgotten the shootings of Fatah “traitors” by Hamas, see http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2166934/posts?
Or this at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7f5_1232023630 ?
Or, more recently, can the public desecration by Hamas of the dead bodies of alleged traitors (see http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/hamas-kills-suspected-collaborators-israel-gaza-article-1.1205010 ) be construed as the behaviour of a truly democratic government?
Most importantly, democratic governments hold regular elections. I have described above how the Hamas disposed of its viable opposition when it came to power. Has the Hamas ever held elections since then? How else can those Palestinians dissatisfied with its policies vote it out as “democratically” as they supposedly voted it in?
McL: “Maintaining an arm’s length relationship with the government in no way diminishes our outrage at the suffering of the Palestinian people. The overwhelming power of Israel and its disproportionate use of force has resulted in a clearly asymmetric war that may be measured by the deaths and injuries sustained by the Palestinians, greater by several factors than those sustained by the Israelis.
ANSWER: Again, with respect, you are scarcely evidencing a relationship “at arm’s length” if you heap opprobrium and blame only on Israel whilst carefully ignoring the suffering inflicted on its people by the Hamas government. I have mentioned how it disposes of alleged “traitors”, publicly and often in front of little children. You also appear to be unaware of the hatred it inculcates into its own little children, see http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=846 , and where is your condemnation of the war crimes against Israeli children in southern Israel, see http://israelmatzav.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/sad-video-israeli-kids-playing-tzeva.html ?
Is not the rocket fire directed at the whole of Israel (from rocket launchers embedded within civilian populations, which is in direct breach of the Geneva Conventions) disproportionate use of force? Again, where is your condemnation of that?
McL: “My detractors invite me to examine and comment on the human rights situation in a random selection of Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan African countries which rather bypasses the issue under discussion, Palestine and Israel. (But for the record, my union and I have condemned all of those nations that seek to oppress democratic opposition and attack free trade unions).
ANSWER: Where and when and how many times? Please send me links to where these condemnations have been reported and to any statements you have made on behalf of UNITE. My difficulty is principally with what seems to be UNITE’s unnatural focus on Israel as alleged wrongdoer without any apparent awareness of the barbarism of the Hamas to whom, by such a focus, you give tacit support at least.
McL: “Israel currently stands in breach of the Geneva Convention; acting contrary to at least two UN Security Council resolutions; and, ignoring the decision of the International Court of Justice.
ANSWER: The UN resolutions, made as they were by predominantly anti-Israel factions, are themselves illegal and discriminatory. And I have referred above to the extents to which the Hamas ignores the Geneva Convention by embedding its militants within civilian communities and storing ordnance among civilians, as well as using its own people as human shields. The following shows a member of the Hamas government actually being proud of such barbarism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTu-AUE9ycs . Can you point me to where you have condemned this?
McL: “The ending of the Six Day War of 1967 was marked by the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 242 that called for the “withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Similarly, the ending of the Yom Kippur War 1973 was marked by the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 338 that called for “the parties concerned to start immediately after the cease-fire the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 in all of its parts” in other words withdrawal to the 1967 border.
ANSWER: You have this wrong and sadly this is a common fallacy which has taken root and is used by its detractors to bash Israel. I am surprised that you associate Unite with such stuff.
Resolution 242 is the cornerstone for what the UN calls “a just and lasting peace.” It calls for a negotiated solution based on “secure and recognized boundaries” – recognizing the flaws in Israel’s previous temporary borders – the 1948 Armistice lines or the “Green Line”–by not calling upon Israel to withdraw from ‘all occupied territories,’ but rather “from territories occupied.”
Arab declarations about destroying Israel were made preceding the war when control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as Sinai and the Golan Heights, were not in Israel’s hands, and no so-called Israeli occupation existed.
That is why the UN Security Council recognized that Israel had acquired the territory from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria not as a matter of aggression, but as an act of self-defense. That is also why Resolution 242 was passed under Chapter VI of the UN Charter rather than Chapter VII. UN resolutions adopted under Chapter VI call on nations to negotiate settlements, while resolutions under the more stringent Chapter VII section deal with clear acts of aggression that allow the UN to enforce its resolutions upon any state seen as threatening the security of another state or states. The Hamas has steadfastly refused to negotiate settlements, indeed its Charter calls them anti-Islamic and a waste of time. It openly states in that Charter that it wants to destroy its neighbour.
Although Resolution 242 refers to “the inadmissibility” of acquiring territory by force, a statement used in nearly all UN resolutions relating to Israel, Professor, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, former President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, explains that the principle of “acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible” must be read together with other principles. Resolution 242 then emphasises the “need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security.” Hamas has steadfastly refused to do this and the PA has invariably acted in bad faith
McL: “Rather than withdraw, Israel has instituted a network of settlements (colonies) across the occupied territories contrary to the 4th Geneva Convention which forbids the transfer of its civilian population by the occupying power into the occupied territory; annexed East Jerusalem (with expanded borders); extended Israeli civilian law into the Golan Heights; and, kept the West Bank and Gaza subject to military incursion
ANSWER: Professor, Judge Schwebel, a former president of the International Court of Justice, wrote in What Weight to Conquest:
“Where the prior holder of territory [Jordan] had seized that territory unlawfully; the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has against that prior holder [a] better title.
“As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem.”
As for Gaza being subject to military incursion, since Israel withdrew from there in 2005, over 8000 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians. Time and again Israel has appealed to the UN to prevent this, to no avail. You cannot seriously expect a government not to act to keep its people safe.
McL: “More recently there has been the construction of an 8 metre high concrete Wall separating the West Bank from Israel. Much of the Wall is being built inside the West Bank, to the east of the Green Line, often making big loops into Palestinian territory to ensure that Israeli settlements (colonies) are on the “right” side of the Wall.
“The International Court of Justice ruled in July 2004 that the Wall was illegal, infringed the rights of Palestinians, should be pulled down and Israel should pay compensation for damage caused. The Wall continues to be built today.
ANSWER: Again, you are oversimplifying and you conveniently fail to explain why the security barrier (it is a wall only in places where Palestinian terrorists used to shoot at Israeli motorists) was constructed in the first place. The fence is a last-resort measure which Israel has reluctantly been forced to build to protect its citizens against the sustained Palestinian terror. In the 2nd intifada suicide bombers, including women, young people and children, from the West Bank and Gaza were encouraged to explode themselves among Israeli civilians who were going about their daily lives. Their families were even paid for their lives by Fatah and later the Hamas. Since the barrier was erected numbers of completed suicide murders have fallen significantly, although many misguided Palestinians are still encouraged to try.
The Israeli courts have consistently ruled in favour of Palestinians whose livelihoods and land has been affected by the barrier’s construction. On 30 June 2004, in the first and perhaps most influential court ruling, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that a 30km stretch of the proposed fence should be rerouted in an area north of Jerusalem, to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. While the court supported Israel’s right to build the security fence to protect Israeli citizens, the court also required Israel to take account of Palestinian concerns.
That decision established a pattern. Since then, a series of further Israeli court rulings have upheld Palestinian rights and slowed the construction of the fence. Some of these have been ‘final’ decisions, and some have been ‘interim’ decisions, intended to give the parties more time to negotiate a rerouting of the fence. Here are some of these court decisions:-
- On 28 October 2004 an Israeli Deputy Supreme Court Justice ordered work on the security fence to be stopped near the Palestinian village of Budrus after an Israeli civil rights group submitted documents proving that the Israeli army had underestimated the harm caused to olive trees owned by Palestinian farmers (Jerusalem Post, 29 October 2004)
- On 5 January 2005 Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister announced in the Israeli Parliament that changes in the route of the security fence mandated by past Israeli High Court decisions would cost Israel around 100million Israeli shekels. The Minister highlighted that Israeli court decisions had already required seven changes to the route of the fence (Ha’aretz 7 January 2005)
- On 27 January 2005 the Israeli High Court refused a petition submitted by the Israeli Army and the Israeli Defence Ministry to lift a temporary ban on fence construction along a 26-kilometre stretch of fence north-west of Jerusalem. The Court had rejected the original route proposed by the Israeli authorities because of the hardship caused to Palestinian residents (Jerusalem Post, 28 January 2005)
- On 18 February 2005 the Israeli Defence Ministry announced that overall completion of the fence would be delayed by a year (until early 2006) because of a series of petitions to the Israeli High Court by Palestinians (Jerusalem Post, 19 February 2005)
- On 22 February 2005 the Israeli High Court halted construction of the fence near the Israeli town of Modi’in, following complaints from three Palestinian residents of a nearby village (Jerusalem Post, 23 February 2005)
- On 30 March 2005 the Israeli High Court agreed to hear a petition from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (‘ACRI’) demanding that a stretch of fence near the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe should be dismantled altogether, because of the harm it was allegedly causing to Palestinian residents (Jerusalem Post, 31 March 2005).
McL: “Small wonder that Israel and its American allies fear formal recognition of Palestine as a nation state by the UN. As a state Palestine would have access to the International Criminal Court where not only would these human rights violations be able to be forensically examined but identified Israeli politicians, officials and military personnel could be made personally liable for the worst excesses.
ANSWER: It weakens your arguments still further to state your own personal opinions here as facts. Israel fears no such thing and Palestine has a long way to go to mature and to prove that it will not be a failed state before the UN recognises it fully. Your union’s tacit support of its barbarism towards its own people as well as towards its neighbour does nothing to help it achieve that.
McL: “It is this breach of Palestinian human rights by Israel – the settlement programme and the Wall – that go to the heart of the issue today. Negotiations for peace seem meaningless when the occupying power has taken so much land, and threatens to take more, that a contiguous Palestinian state seems to be ever more unrealisable. The so-called ‘2 state solution’ becomes impossible and may lead to more and more calls for a 1 state solution.
ANSWER: May I respectfully suggest that you read the Hamas Charter at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp (and particularly Article 13) and also remind yourself of the number of times that Mahmoud Abbas has muttered “peace” out of one side of his mouth while dedicating here a playground, there a square to murderous terrorists who kill Jews, (see http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=1563 for one example) before you heap blame on Israel for making peace “meaningless”?
McL: “Finally, my correspondents do not seem to be assiduous students of the British labour movement. Berating me for calling on the TUC to support a boycott, disinvestment and sanctions campaign seems a little behind the game.”
ANSWER: Where is it written, pray, that “assiduous students of the Labour movement” must believe mindless and malicious propaganda? You will become a more believable student if you lead a boycott against some of the worst dictatorships, including against the Hamas itself, rather than against the only true democracy in the Middle East.
[LMcC continues] “2006 was the breakthrough year for Palestinian solidarity at the TUC Congress. On three occasions since, Congress has firmed up its support for the Palestinian people. The 2011 Congress carried a motion committing unions to “work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall”. At the 2012 Congress, a motion was passed committing Congress House to organising with PSC a delegation to Gaza “to determine how the TUC may most effectively contribute to the end of the blockade”.
ANSWER: The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is pro-Palestinian in name only. Rather it shores up Palestinian victimhood and makes a virtue of it. It known to be antisemitic (see http://www.fighthatred.com/profiles-in-hate/political-figures/1111-exposed-the-palestine-solidarity-campaigns-anti-semitic-agenda ) as well as anti-Israel. Indeed it invariably incites hatred of Israel and Jews rather than encourages Palestinians to work collaboratively to bring about peace. Any trade union which is as proud as you are to be associated with such an organisation cannot comprise, to paraphrase your terminology above, “assiduous students of the Labour movement” but is a disgrace to it.
LMcC: “The progress made at the TUC Congress over the past six years show the strength of opinion among British trade unionists is such that they will not stand idly by when the combined weight of IDF weaponry rains down on a largely defenceless and undefended people in Gaza.
ANSWER: I am aware of what you refer to as British trades unionists opinions and that they are far from representative. My own experience is that many rank and file trade unionists can hardly be bothered to voice their opinions, (merely preferring to see their employment rights etc. defended and not be “involved” politically) leaving the hard-line leftist members who see their duty to attend meetings to shout those with opposing opinions down, and to get themselves elected to positions in branches in order to further their own agendas – therefore to be the political “voice” of the Union. I have been to many meetings where this happens, and it is sickening to witness.
LMcC: “In the situation of Palestine and Israel, Unite takes its inspiration from the Nobel laureate and anti-apartheid church leader Archbishop Desmond Tutu who has said that “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” ”
ANSWER: Desmond Tutu is wrong in many things in respect of Israel and his blind one track mindedness has led to many libels against her. You and your union, by ignoring the criminal and oppressive activities towards gays and Christians and its women, as well as towards the Jews and Arabs in Israel, by the Hamas and the PA and by your pursuing this obsessively negative focus on Israel, in which the Christian population is growing and gays and women have equal rights in law, are letting your membership and the Palestinian people down. You should be ashamed.
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