Category Archives: International Labor

Defying leaders, Norway trade unionists endorse Israel boycott (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

Defying leaders, Norway trade unionists endorse Israel boycott

Actvists carry a banner calling for recognition of Palestine and a boycott of Israel, at the annual May Day march in Oslo, Norway, 1 May. Ryan Rodrick BeilerActiveStills

Norway’s largest and most influential trade union organization has called for a full boycott of Israel.

Last Friday, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) voted to endorse a statement that embraces the entire slate of demands in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

The Palestinian BDS National Committee hailed the decision as courageous and urged LO to pressure the Norwegian government to end military ties with Israel.

At its annual congress, LO delegates voted 197 to 117 to demand an “international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel” as a means to end the blockade of Gaza, remove Israel’s wall in the West Bank, respect the right of return for Palestinian refugees and ensure “equal rights for all.”

Full boycott, full explanation

Sara Bell, leader of the Norwegian Union of Municipal and General Employees in the city of Bergen, was a key organizer among those putting the boycott on LO’s agenda.

Bell told The Electronic Intifada that the original language simply stated: “LO supports the international BDS movement, and will work for an international trade boycott of Israel.”

But with several other unions and local branches supporting the boycott, the final wording included clauses on the right of return as well as demanding that the Norwegian government recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 boundaries and takes steps to ensure “a democratic state solution with equal rights for all.”

The declaration states that since international political efforts and dialogue have not produced results, it is now necessary to “work for an international, economic, cultural and academic boycott to achieve these goals.”

Something of a thriller

“The voting process was something of a thriller, but the result was overwhelmingly in favor of boycott,” Bell said. “I’m still pretty euphoric about it.”

“I think the result reflects ordinary Norwegian people’s understanding and rejection of the horrible injustices the Palestinian population has been suffering for far too long,” she added.

The primary debate at the LO congress was not over whether to boycott, but how.

LO president Hans-Christian Gabrielsen had urged only a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

He warned that adopting the full boycott could prevent LO representatives from traveling to visit Palestinian trade unions, due to a new Israeli law that bars entry to BDS supporters.

Nothing to lose

However, that law does not distinguish between boycotts limited to settlements and broader boycotts of Israel.

A boycott of settlement goods had already been adopted at a previous LO congress.

And, LO’s newspaper FriFagbevegelse reported earlier in May that two LO members have already been denied entry by Israel this year because of their Palestine solidarity activism.

Gabrielsen also argued that a full boycott would hurt Palestinian workers and labor unions.

This claim was blunted by the fact that the BDS call has been endorsed by the Palestinian trade unions federation PGFTU.

Its general secretary Shaher Saad also spoke at the LO congress.

“We are a people who need help and solidarity from our friends, and we need it now,” Saad said.

Boycott not the goal

Like many LO leaders, Bell has visited Palestine, most recently traveling to the Gaza Strip in March with a union delegation. Bell told the LO congress about Abd al-Rahman Wahdan, a potato farmer from Beit Hanoun, in northern Gaza.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, Wahdan’s house was occupied by Israeli forces for three days, Bell told the congress. Some family members fled to Jabaliya refugee camp, others stayed in Beit Hanoun. Eight were killed by a bomb in Beit Hanoun and four others by airstrikes in Jabaliya.

Today, Wahdan farms potatoes close to the no-go zone enforced by the Israeli military inside Gaza near the boundary with Israel.

Bell said her union helps fund irrigation systems for Wahdan and other growers in the area where farmers are frequently shot at by Israeli forces and have their crops sprayed with poison by Israeli aircraft.

“Boycott in itself isn’t a goal for us,” Bell told The Electronic Intifada. “Our goal is to end the occupation, end the siege and blockade of Gaza, end the illegal settlements, and start working for freedom, democracy and equal rights. We hope many other trade unions will follow us and join this effort.”

Boilerplate backlash

Criticism was swift and predictable. Foreign minister Børge Brende tweeted that Norway’s current right-wing government “strongly” opposed the LO’s decision. “We need more cooperation and dialogue, not boycott,” Brende wrote.

In January, during a visit to Israel, Brende signed an agreement on scientific cooperation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A spokesperson for Norway’s far-right Progress Party called the resolution “shameful.”

Israeli ambassador to Norway Raphael Schutz called the decision “immoral” and claimed it reflected “deeply rooted attitudes of bias, discrimination and double standard towards the Jewish state.”

He added that the measure placed the LO “shoulder to shoulder with the worst enemies of Israel.”

Growing support

But solidarity activists are welcoming the vote as a sign of change.

“Such popular resistance from the grassroots of the Norwegian labor movement shows just how out of sync with the public both Norwegian and international politicians are in allowing Israel impunity against human rights and international law violations,” Tora Systad Tyssen, chair of the Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, told The Electronic Intifada.

Kathrine Jensen, chair of the Palestine Committee of Norway, said the vote demonstrated that Israel had not succeeded in its “war on international solidarity.”

And on 9 May, days before the LO congress vote, the municipality of Lillehammer passed a resolution to boycott Israeli settlement goods.

This made it the third major city in Norway to call for a settlement boycott, following Trondheim and Tromsø.

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Federation Endorses Full Boycott of Israel to Advance Palestinian Human Rights (BNC)

Norway’s Largest Trade Union Federation Endorses Full Boycott of Israel to Advance Palestinian Human Rights (Credit: Ole Palmstrøm)


May 12, 2017
 – Today, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), representing close to one million workers, endorsed a full boycott of Israel to achieve Palestinian rights under international law. LO is the largest and most influential umbrella organization of labor unions in Norway.

Commenting on this significant BDS victory in Norway, Riya Hassan, the Europe Campaigns Coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said:

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) salutes the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) for endorsing a full “international economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel” as a necessary means to achieve Palestinian fundamental rights, including the right of return for the refugees and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

By courageously heeding the Palestinian BDS Call, issued by an absolute majority in Palestinian civil society in 2005, LO joins some of the world’s most important trade union federations, including South Africa’s COSATU, Brazil’s CUT, Quebec’s CSN and the Irish ICTU, in calling for meaningful BDS pressure on the corporations and institutions that have enabled decades of Israeli occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

The BNC hopes to closely coordinate with Norwegian partners within LO, particularlyFagforbundet, to translate this new policy into effective measures of accountability at the academic, cultural and economic levels to uphold human rights and international law. We also call on LO to apply pressure on the Norwegian government to end all its military ties with Israel’s regime of oppression and to divest its sovereign fund from all companies that are complicit in Israel’s occupation and illegal settlement enterprise.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit www.bdsmovement.net and follow @BDSmovement

UK teachers’ union now “HP free zone” due to Israel ties (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

UK teachers’ union now “HP free zone” due to Israel ties

An Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. HP services computers used by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank.

Shadi HatemAPA images

The UK’s largest union for school teachers has launched a boycott of HP over the technology giant’s role in the Israeli occupation.

More than 21,000 people in the UK have also signed a pledge to boycott the US-headquartered firm.

Kevin Courtney, general secretary with the National Union of Teachers, said “the NUT does not buy or use HP products or services as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

The union has declared its offices “HP free zones,” Courtney added, arguing that the firm is “complicit in the illegal occupation of the West Bank.”

HP has an active and ongoing role supporting the Israeli military. That includes providing support services for the biometric ID system used at Israeli checkpoints all over the West Bank to enforce Israel’s dictatorial pass system on Palestinians.

Prisons, settlements, blockade

HP is also contracted to provide IT services to Israeli prisons and settlements in the West Bank.

And the firm provides services and technologies to the Israeli military, including the navy, which enforces the decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal under international law, as are all Israeli settlements.

Details of HP’s role in the occupation have been cataloged and verified by the group Who Profits.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that the boycott pledge signed by tens of thousands was a “wake up call” for HP. He said that councils, businesses and faith groups should follow the lead taken by the teachers’ union.

“Beyond repair”

“HP should sit up and take notice – being complicit in human rights violations tarnishes your brand beyond repair,” he said.

Jamal said that “technology-enabled racism and reckless profiteering from the oppression of the Palestinian people doesn’t sit well with customers.”

HP became a key target for the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement last year. That followed similar – and successful – years-long campaigns against Veolia and Orange, two French corporations that had also sought to profit from the Israeli occupation.

An international campaign launched against HP in late 2016 prompted a California church to vote that all of the firm’s products should be shunned.

An earlier vote in the United Methodist Church that proposed divestment from HP was condemned by Hillary Clinton during her failed campaign to become US president. Clinton is herself a Methodist.

More recently, the student senates at two US colleges voted to divest from HP and other companies involved in the Israeli occupation.

Please sign: We Stand With Palestinian Rights Activist Christoph Glanz Against Zionist Witch-Hunt

Please click here to sign the statement below!

oldenburg_7_37687e38-7d2f-4095-876a-ebc8bd52e941-427x337

We Stand With Palestinian Rights Activist Christoph Glanz Against Zionist Witch-Hunt
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, October 13, 2016

On October 10, 2016, the Jerusalem Post published an article by anti-Palestinian propagandist Benjamin Weinthal under the screaming headline, “‘Antisemitic’ German teacher posed as a Jew to push   anti-Israel agenda.”

The designated target is Christoph Glanz, German activist, teacher, lifelong anti-fascist, and self-described former liberal Zionist. His supposed crime is having been listed as both a Jewish and non-Jewish endorser of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return (JPRR) in 2013.

This is at least the seventh time in 2016 that Weinthal has falsely accused Glanz of anti-Semitism, and reflects a pattern of such smears by Weinthal against numerous other Palestinian rights advocates.

In this case, as a simple inquiry would have revealed, Glanz’ double identification on JPRR’s statement was an inadvertent error on our part (now corrected), listing him among more than 700 other endorsers.

In any case, just what is anti-Semitic about JPRR’s observation that, “[f]or more than a century, Zionists have sought to construct a ‘Jewish state’ through forced removal of the indigenous Palestinian people”?

Or that “the Zionist regime officially denies the Nakba, the ethical equivalent of Holocaust denial”?

Or that Palestinian refugees have the inalienable right to return?

Readers are invited to read our full statement and decide for themselves.

Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic; it’s anti-racist, anti-apartheid, and anti-colonialist. And Weinthal’s bogus accusations reflect an increasingly desperate witch-hunt to stifle the surging worldwide support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — many of whose supporters are Jewish.

Christoph Glanz will not be silenced by such attacks, and neither will we.

Les luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine

fsm_logo_frLes luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine / The struggles of the palestinian working class and the global solidarity movement for Palestine / Las luchas de la clase trabajadora palestina y el movimiento de solidaridad global para Palestina

Atelier de discussion

Avec / with / con :
PALESTINIAN GENERAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PGFTU)
PALESTINIAN POSTAL SERVICES WORKERS UNION (PPSWU)
PALESTINE NEW FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PNFTU)

Avec l’appui / with the support of / con el apoyo de :
ELA (Pais Vasco), CIG (Galicia), CSN (Québec), CUT (Brasil), CGIL (Italia), STTP/CUPW (Canada), USS (France)

L’atelier mettra l’accent sur les conditions de travail et de vie de la classe des travailleuses et travailleurs palestiniens, la lutte pour la justice sociale, le travail décent, les réalités particulières du travail syndical sous un régime d’occupation, les défis du mouvement ouvrier et la lutte politique pour la libération de la Palestine. Ensuite, la discussion sera ouverte sur la façon dont les syndicats et les organisations à l’extérieur de la Palestine peuvent agir en solidarité avec les travailleuses et travailleurs palestiniens.

The workshop will focus on the conditions of the Palestinian working class, the struggle for social justice, decent work, the particular realities of the union work under an occupation regime, the challenges of the Labor movement and the political struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The discussion will then open on how unions and organizations outside Palestine can act in solidarity with the Palestinian Workers.

El taller se centrará en las condiciones de trabajo y de vida de la clase trabajadora palestina, la lucha por la justicia social, el trabajo decente, las realidades particulares del trabajo sindical bajo un régimen de ocupación, los retos del movimiento obrero y la lucha política por la liberación de Palestina. A continuación, la discusión se abrirá en cómo los sindicatos y organismos fuera de Palestina pueden actuar en solidaridad con los trabajadores palestinos.

Intervenants

À venir, PALESTINIAN GENERAL FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PGFTU)
À venir, PALESTINIAN POSTAL SERVICES WORKERS UNION (PPSWU)
Jamal Juma, PALESTINE NEW FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS (PNFTU)

Atelier de discussion
Activité à confirmer
Date et heure à déterminer
Emplacement à déterminer
Langue(s) principale(s) de l’activité

Français, Anglais, Espagnol, Arabe

Traduction simultannée

Français, Anglais, Espagnol

Publics cibles

Général, Jeunes (13 à 17 ans), Jeunes (18 à 35 ans), Aînés, Femmes, Travailleurs et travailleuses, Personnes en situation de handicap, Autochtones, LGBT, Personnes racisées, Personnes en situation précaire

Activité étendue sur internet

non

Dernière modification
20 June 2016
Les luttes de la classe ouvrière palestinienne et le mouvement mondial de solidarité pour la Palestine / The struggles of the palestinian working class and the global solidarity movement for Palestine / Las luchas de la clase trabajadora palestina y el movimiento de solidaridad global para Palestina
Organisation responsable de l’activité

Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)

Administrateurs

Nathalie Guay

Thème

Décolonisation et autodétermination des peuples

Objectifs

Informer / Sensibiliser
Débattre / délibérer / discuter
Proposer / Développer des alternatives
Converger pour l’action / décider
Développer des partenariats / Constituer des alliances

UK academic union of over 100,000 members urges freedom for Imad Barghouthi, defense of Palestinians under attack (Samidoun)

Samidoun

UK academic union of over 100,000 members urges freedom for Imad Barghouthi, defense of Palestinians under attack

UCU

The UK’s University and College Union (UCU), representing over 100,000 members as the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK, affirmed its support for the rights of Palestinian academics under attack in an emergency motion passed at itsCongress on 1-3 June.

The motion, which was passed with no opposition, notes the arrest, detention, and now charges against renowned Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi, as well as the repression and threats against BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti; it instructs the union’s General Secretary to raise the matter with British officials and the Israeli embassy. The motion also commits UCU to distributing Samidoun’s call to action for Imad Barghouthi and fellow Palestinian prisoners, urging members to write to British and Israeli officials to call for his release.

The motion text:

Late motion for UCU Congress: Defend Palestinian academics

 Congress notes with dismay that:

  • Renowned Palestinian astrophysicist Professor Imad al-Barghouthi has been arrested and put in administrative detention for the second time; his release has been cancelled and he now faces trial.
  • Omar Barghouti, a founder of the BDS movement and graduate of Tel Aviv University, has had an effective travel ban placed on him, widely seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers recently threatened.

Congress condemns these fundamental breaches of human rights, instructs the General Secretary to raise these matters urgently with the FCO and the Israeli Embassy, and agrees to circulate the call by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network* to all members, asking them to write to MPs and the Israeli embassy calling for Prof.Al-Barghouthi to be released immediately.

Congress further instructs the General Secretary to call on the Israeli authorities to end the use of administrative detention.

http://samidoun.net/2016/04/prominent-palestinian-astrophysicist-imad-barghouthi-detained-by-israeli-occupation-forces/

Barghouthi, 54, a professor at Al-Quds University and former employee of NASA in the United States, was arrested on 24 April at an Israeli military checkpoint as he traveled from Nabi Saleh to his home in Beit Rima. He was shortly ordered to three months’ administrative detention. Following an outcry by internationally prominent scientists, mathematicians and academics, his administrative detention without charge or trial was reduced to two months, and then his release ordered after one month. However, the Israeli military prosecution refused to release him and has now charged him in the military court system – where Palestinians are convicted at a rate greater than 99 percent – for posting on Facebook, labeling his posts “incitement.”

“My father isn’t the only scientist who has been persecuted by the Israeli occupation. There is a war on Palestinian education. I hope to see Israel held accountable for its cruel actions on an international level,” said Imad’s daughter, Duha Barghouthi, a new high school graduate whose graduation day came with her father imprisoned.

International organizations, scientists and academics have continued to call for Barghouthi’s immediate release, alongside other Palestinian prisoners.

Palestinian BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti has faced threats and attacks on his residency by high-ranking Israeli officials, both in public speeches and in practice, alongside attempts to criminalize BDS internationally being forwarded by the Israeli government.

The UCU has a long history of international solidarity and important motions in support of the rights of the Palestinian people and the BDS movement. It has supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. It has also expressed solidarity with imprisoned Palestinians, including writer and academic Ahmad Qatamesh. The UCU has come under attack by right-wing pro-occupation forces for its consistent positions, and was victorious in 2013 in a legal challenge brought by a pro-Zionist union member which was soundly rejected by a British employment tribunal.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network thanks the University and College Union for once again, and consistently, standing with the Palestinian people and their rights and struggle for justice and liberation. We welcome the UCU’s resolution on Palestinian academics under attack and look forward to working together to secure freedom and justice for Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people.

354 European human rights organisations, church groups, trade unions and political parties call on the EU to support their right to boycott (Mondoweiss)

Mondoweiss

354 European human rights organisations, church groups, trade unions and political parties call on the EU to support their right to boycott

on  

More than 300 human rights and aid organisations, church groups, trade unions and political parties from across Europe have called on the EU to uphold its legal responsibilities and hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and to defend the right of individuals and institutions to take part in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for justice and equality.

Signatories to the letter called on the EU commission to “introduce the human rights guidelines guaranteeing freedom of speech and right to boycott and to use all other means you have in your disposal to support European citizens in their struggle to uphold basic human rights.”

Having failed to stop the growth of the BDS movement movement, Israel has launched an unprecedented attack against the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality.

The 354 strong list of signatories includes: Transform! Europe – a european network of 28 European organizations from 19 countries, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, The Norwegian United Federation of Trade Unions, Parti de Gauche in France, Podemos in Spain, Norwegian Church Aid, the Flemish branch of Oxfam in Belgium, major Belgian NGO coalition CNCD 11.11.11, Defence for Children in Belgium, Greenpeace in Germany, the international catholic peace movement Pax Christi International in Belgium and major French Catholic NGO Terre Solidaire. See here for letter and full list of signatories.

At Israel’s request, European governments including the UK and France are introducing anti-democratic legislation and taking other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement. In France, one activist was arrested simply for wearing a BDS t-shirt.

The EU envoy to Israel was criticised recently for participating in an anti-BDS conference in Jerusalem at which Israeli government ministers threatened BDS activists.

Israel has also imposed an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti, following thinly-veiled threats of physical violence against him by Israeli government ministers that prompted Amnesty International to express concern “for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti”.

Israeli state repression against human rights defenders and the BDS movement is designed to shield it from being held accountable for its violations of international law. Israel has openly boasted that it is spying on international BDS activists.

Riya Hassan, Europe Campaigns Officer for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition of Palestinian organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement, said:

“Rather than helping Israel to repress the BDS movement, it is time for the EU to meet its obligations under international law and hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. The EU must uphold the right of European, Palestinian and Israeli citizens to uphold human rights and take part in the nonviolent BDS movement.”

Aneta Jerska, the coordinator of the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP), one of the organisations that has signed the statement, said:

“It is empowering to see so many European civil society organisations and representative bodies publicly declaring their support for the right to participate in the BDS movement that aims to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law and human rights.

“This is a powerful sign that European public opinion is increasingly viewing BDS as an act of free speech. We will continue to fight to bring an end to Israel’s unjust system of oppression over the Palestinian people.”

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/05/european-organisations-political/#sthash.L0pQsaB2.dpuf

Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’ (Peter Waterman)

Labour-StartApril 16, 2016

Eric Lee: The Online Labour Solidarity Whiz who’s ‘Proud to be a Zionist’ 

Peter Waterman
peterwaterman1936@gmail.com 

Eric Lee is best-known as the owner/coordinator of two international labour sites online. LabourStart is a unique and humungous news and solidarity site, fed by hundreds of volunteers. It is heavily identified with the Eurocentric and Social-Liberal International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). UnionBook is his pinboard or sandbox, on which contributors can post almost anything, or in which they can play, without any visible effect, with others.[1]

Eric, moreover, is organizing, 2016, a rather broad LabourStart Conference in Toronto, Canada this year. And he is this same year also the recipient of two awards for his online labour solidarity work, one in the UK, one in Norway.

I was therefore astounded to see his recent declaration, Proud to be a Zionist, a statement illustrated by a Left Zionist poster, with Hebrew lettering, from 1944: that is from before Israel was even created! Eric also identifies with the Israeli kibbutzim (he once lived and worked in one), though the numbers and socialist inspiration of these has been in decline for many years. As a US Left (?) Zionist paper puts it (in a piece worth reading in full) ‘What Actually Undermined the Kibbutz’:

Over the past quarter-century, most of Israel’s 270 kibbutzim have abandoned the founders’ socialist credo, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,’ and replaced it with the new ‘privatized’ kibbutz.

So Eric’s Pride seems to be inspired by a Left Zionist Israel (real or aspirational) of the 1940s-50s, rather than the neo-liberal, racist, religious-conservative, projection of the present day. In the 1940s-50s Israel was almost universally supported by at least the Western trade union internationals, and the major Western (and even Non-Western) national unions. Today there is a growing international union movement, modeled on the Anti-Apartheid one, that identifies with the Palestinian unions and people, and calls for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Now, like Eric Lee, I am a Jewish socialist and labour internationalist, both on the Ground (modestly) and in the Cloud (even more so). Shocked by his Zionist Pride statement, I decided that rather than dissecting his more-than-somewhat chauvinist[2] declaration, I would offer my own take on the Israel/Palestine situation. This is part of a general 2014 paper on the current crisis of union internationalism. It considers different international labour responses to that conflict, including Eric Lee’s Labour Zionist one. The relevant section begins as follows:

I have identified with Palestine Solidarity and/or the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, particularly in so far as this has involved unions and the wider labour movement. More so since the 2014 Israeli outrage in Gaza that scandalized even liberal Zionists abroad and former IDF intelligence unit soldiers in Israel. Given the Balkanisation/Ghettoization of Palestine, I have come to consider any UN-type ‘two-state’ solution as dead in the water (or should one here say ‘desert’ – including those caused by long-standing and continuing Israeli destruction of Palestine’s ecology?). If we are not to continue towards Israel’s ‘Final Solution of the Arab Problem’, then I see a one-state solution as the only democratic one. It may be distant (so is a post-capitalist world!) yet it provides a horizon toward which we must move.

The section continues with this consideration (edited) of the Labour Zionist position:

The Labour Zionist. Though not confined to one person, this position is

exemplified by … Eric Lee … whose position reminds me of that of Western Communists as Stalinist Russia stagnated and declined. He has been busy with triumphalist celebration of Israel’s wars, as well as the successes of the Zionist Histadrut within the [traditional trade unions] in general and the ITUC in particular. He has, however, increasingly shifted, if uncertainly, to sobering reflections on the success of the BDS/Palestine-solidarity movement, though this is not to the point of recognizing any Israeli responsibility [for this]. Two pro-Israeli sites he has either created or been connected with, TULIP (Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine) and TUFI (Trade Union Friends of Israel) appear to have run out of steam late-2013.[3] Eric (with whom I fruitfully dialogued on [international labour communication by computer] in the 1990s) has also increasingly withdrawn his pro-Israeli/Histadrut news, views and personal attachments from LabourStart and UnionBook, concentrating them on his own blogsite (from which he has also removed his LabourStart/UnionBook affiliations!). Unlike many Western Communists (myself amongst them after the Soviet invasion of Communist Czechoslovakia) he has not yet had his ‘1968 Moment’ – that of abandoning a fundamentalist state-nationalism and an inevitably ‘particularistic internationalism’, in favour of the dialogical/dialectical internationalism that his remarkable and pioneering online creations make possible.

Eric Lee does a disservice to both his online and offline LabourStart activity by his continued total identification with one particular state (compare that of Communist internationalists with the Soviet Union). That he has separated his Zionism from LabourStart is a result, evidently, of 1) Israel’s increasing violation of human rights both within the country and in Palestine, 2) the increasing inter/national union opposition to Israel, and 3) the international criticism made of his continuing Zionism over the years. This shows, amongst other things, a British union refusing funds for LabourStart on the grounds of his Zionism, as well as a failure to achieve a place on the elected board of Amnesty International in the UK. Indeed, a condemnation of Eric’s support for the Israeli Zionist union confederation, Histadrut, also heavily marked a LabourStart conference in Turkey, 2011! Lee has consequently played down his identification with that body.

In so far as left, labour, socialist and human rights campaigning internationally, has caused Eric to retreat from using LabourStart to promote Zionism (and Israeli Zionist unionism), I am convinced that further campaigning at LabourStart conferences, and award-winning ceremonies, is necessary and would be to the advantage of such internationalism as LabourStart/UnionBook might represent.

I would like to forestall any argument that it is sufficient if Eric separates his Zionism from LabourStart. This would not stand up for anyone who on one of his sites promoted his labour internationalism and on another expressed anti-semitism, sexism, Maoism or Trumpism.

Eric Lee has shown he is sensitive to the forward march of the union BDS movement, and to criticism of his Israeli chauvinism. A widening campaign might oblige him to recognize there is a fundamental contradiction between national chauvinism and labour internationalism.

The Hague
20.04.16

[1] Full disclosure: I was for a year or two an active contributor to UnionBook. This was when I thought it had potential as a site of dialogue, whilst LabourStart is a ‘broadcaster’, collecting news to a centre, then sending this out. I was twice suspended from UB by Eric Lee, the second time definitively. I decided to focus my energy elsewhere.

[2] Merriam-Webster definition: 1 :  excessive or blind patriotism — compare jingoism, 2 :  undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs or has belonged.

[3] Update, April 18, 2016: The TULIP site has evidently been revived, though it seems to have forgotten which Palestinian unions it now ‘links’ with.

 

Letters: Israel boycott ban is anti-democratic (The Independent)

The Independent

Letters: Israel boycott ban is anti-democratic

The Government’s attempts to block public bodies from boycotting and divesting from companies involved in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians undermines local democracy in order to shield Israel from criticism (“Boycott of Israeli goods to be criminal offence”, 15 February).

Local councils, student unions, trade unions, political parties and other democratic bodies across the UK have voted to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). BDS is a peaceful and effective way of challenging the international support that Israel receives despite its ongoing human rights abuses and violations of international law.

The Government’s proposal would effectively force local councils and other public bodies to unethically invest in Israel’s occupation and in arms companies.

Palestinians launched the BDS movement more than 10 years ago because governments, including our own, fail to hold Israel to account for its deliberate attacks on Palestinians and other war crimes. Instead, the UK sells Israel the weapons it needs to attack Palestinians with impunity.

Rather than attacking local democracy and insulating Israel from the consequences of its human rights abuses, the UK government should take steps in support of freedom, justice and equality.

An end to the arms  trade with Israel would  be a good start.

Ahdaf Soueif

Roger Waters 

Tommy Sheppard MP

Cat Smith MP

Malia Bouattia

NUS Black Students’ Officer

Len McCluskey

General Secretary, Unite the Union

Alex Cunningham MP

Chris Stephens MP

Clive Betts MP

Dave Anderson MP

Kate Osamor MP

Marie Rimmer MP

Martyn Day MP

Nic Dakin MP

Steven Paterson MP

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Louise Haigh MP

Lord Ahmed Nazir

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Matt Wrack, General Secretary FBU

Mick Whelan, General Secretary ASLEF

Tim Roache, General Secretary Elect GMB

Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT

Piers Telemancque, Vice president Society and Citizenship, NUS

Shelly Asquith – Vice President Welfare, NUS

Ken Loach, 

Mark Thomas,

Rizwan Ahmed,

Mike Leigh,

Andrew Smith, Campaign Against Arms Trade

Alexei Sayle

Anna Carteret

April De Angelis,

Baroness Jenny Tonge

Caryl Churchill,  

Fionn Travers-Smith, Move Your Money

Gillian Slovo,

Hari Kunzru,

Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Jeremy Hardy,

Jo Ram, Community Reinvest

Joel Benjamin, Community Reinvest

John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want

Maggie Steed,

Maxine Peake,

Mick Bowman, Newcastle City Council

Michael Radford,

Miriam Margolyes,

Niall Buggy,

Pauline Melville,

Peter Kosminsky,

Rachel Holmes,

Riya Hassan, Palestinian BDS National Committee

Robert Wyatt,

Vica Rogers, Debt Resistance UK

BDS Campaign Expanding: Let’s Forge Ahead (CUPW)

Thursday February 11 2016
2015-2019/070

At its 2008 Convention, CUPW adopted a resolution supporting the BDS campaign. The call for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel was made by more than 175 Palestinian unions, groups and organizations in 2005, with a view to forcing the State of Israel to negotiate peace and recognize the right of Palestinians to self‑determination.

Ten years later, we know that international pressure is now playing a significant role in leading to the resolution of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict. Here is a look at CUPW’s current solidarity work with Palestine:

CONCRETE ACTION

  • In late 2015, the National Executive Board adopted a project to support the work of the Palestinian Postal Service Workers Union (PPSWU). The project is aimed at financially supporting the preparation of the PPSWU’s Annual Conference, which is scheduled for May of this year.
  • The Union is now supporting STOP THE WALL, a Palestinian organization that coordinates the activities of groups involved in mobilizing local residents who are directly affected by the Separation Wall. You can visit its website at www.stopthewall.org. The Union encourages you to support this organization.
  • The Union also invites you to visit the website of WE ARE NOT NUMBERS (www.wearenotnumbers.org), where Palestinians share their day‑to‑day stories. Theirs is a call to sharing and solidarity.
  • The Union has agreed to fund a request by Independent Jewish Voices, which is sponsoring a tour by Hiedar Abu Thosh, a Palestinian who was driven from his village (Imwas) in 1967 by the Israeli army. Canada Park, financed by the Jewish National Fund of Canada, was built on the site of his village. His tour dates will be announced at a later date.

THE BDS Campaign!

There are several ways of demonstrating our solidarity and support for the BDS campaign:

Boycott:

  • SodaStream, an illegal product manufactured in an illegal Jewish settlement under an illegal occupation, but still sold at The Bay, Canadian Tire, Target, and Staples;
  • products with a barcode starting with “729” (Israel);
  • Ahava cosmetics, which are manufactured from Dead Sea minerals (in occupied territory), sold at The Bay;
  • products like underwear and hydration systems produced by Israeli defence industries, which are sold at Mountain Equipment Coop;
  • Indigo/Chapters, whose shareholders support the Israeli military through the Heseg Foundation.

Divestment:

  • Request the withdrawal of our Pension Plan investments in Israeli companies like Caterpillar, Motorola, ITT Industries and United Technologies;
  • suspend funding, financial or organizational support and recognition of Israeli research centres or cultural programs.

Sanctions:

Demand that the federal government:

  • vote in favour of resolutions censuring Israel for its violations of international law (the 5th Geneva Convention);
  • ban any imports from the occupied territories;
  • terminate its Free Trade Agreement with Israel.

Let’s show our solidarity with the palestinian people

 

Mike Palecek
National President