Category Archives: U.K.

UK Labour Party must reject biased antisemitism definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights (Palestinian Unions)

UK Labour Party must reject biased antisemitism definition that stifles advocacy for Palestinian rights


Welcoming the significant growth in recent years of progressive politics centred on social justice and internationalism in the UK, especially within the labour movement, we, Palestinian trade unions, mass organisations and networks, representing the majority in Palestinian civil society, call on the British Labour party, trade unions, city councils, universities and civil society at large to reject the IHRA’s false, anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism.

This non-legally binding definition attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid from effective measures of accountability in accordance to international law.

The discredited IHRA guidelines deliberately conflate hostility to or prejudice or discrimination against Jews on the one hand with legitimate critiques of Israel’s policies and system of injustice on the other.

Palestinians last year marked 100 years of the Balfour Declaration, which played a significant role in supporting and entrenching the Zionist colonisation of Palestine. This typically colonial British declaration constituted a declaration of war against our people. It facilitated the birth of the exclusionary state of Israel that maintains a regime of apartheid and systematically oppresses the indigenous Palestinian people, stripping us of our fundamental and UN-recognised rights, including the rights to equality and self- determination and our refugees’ right to return to their homes of origin.

We concur with British Palestinian personalities who have asserted that:

[A]ny use by public bodies of the IHRA examples on antisemitism that either inhibits discussion relating to our dispossession by ethnic cleansing, when Israel was established, or attempts to silence public discussions on current or past practices of [Israeli] settler colonialism, apartheid, racism and discrimination, and the ongoing violent military occupation, directly contravenes core rights. First, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, who remain protected by international laws and conventions; and second, the rights of all those British citizens who stand by our side, in the solidarity of a common humanity.

We recognise the severe pressure being placed on public bodies in the UK, and globally, to adopt this politicised and fraudulent definition of antisemitism. We would assert that those in the UK have a particular moral, political and arguably legal obligation to atone for historic and current British crimes against the Palestinian people and complicity in maintaining Israel’s regime of oppression. We appeal to them to:

1.     Consistently uphold the UK Human Rights Act, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the right to freedom of expression, including in narrating Palestine’s well-documented colonial history, advocating for Palestinian rights, describing Israel’s regime of oppression as racist or as constituting apartheid, and calling for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel as nonviolent measures of accountability to bring about its compliance with its obligations under international law and its respect for Palestinian rights.

2.     Unequivocally uphold the UN-stipulated rights of the people of Palestine,particularly:

●     The right to live free of military occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem;

●     The right to full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel who currently suffer under a system of legalised and institutionalised racial discrimination;

●     The inherent and legally upheld right of Palestine refugees to return to their homes of origin from which they have been ethnically cleansed during the Nakba and ever since.

3.     Officially endorse a military embargo on Israel, as called for by Palestinian civil society, Socialist International, UK political parties (including Liberal DemocratsGreens, and Scottish National Party), the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC), many development NGOs (including Oxfam and Christian Aid), dozens of British MPs, cities across Europe, Amnesty International, globalfigures, among others. In 2017 alone, the UK arms exports to Israel reached $284m, setting a record.

4.     Unambiguously condemn all forms of racism and bigotry, including Israel’s more than 60 racist laws, especially its latest constitutional law, the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, that effectively “enshrines Jewish supremacy” and apartheid, as defined by the UN.

Adopting the IHRA definition (with its examples) would not only demonise our present struggle for liberation and self-determination. It would also “silence a public discussion [in the UK] of what happened in Palestine and to the Palestinians in 1948”, as over 100 Black, Asian and other minority ethnicities (BAME) groups in the UK have cautioned. It would also chill advocacy for Palestinian rights, including by vilifying and maligning our nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Anchored in our own decades-long heritage of popular resistance and inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement and the US Civil Rights movement, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated BDS movement is supported by an overwhelming majority of Palestinian civil society. It is also endorsed by progressive movements representing millions worldwide, including a fast-rising number of Jewish millennials.

BDS is rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and adheres to the UN definition of racial discrimination. It therefore “does not tolerate any act or discourse which adopts or promotes, among others, anti-Black racism, anti-Arab racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia”.

Redefining racism against a particular community to serve the political goal of precluding or vilifying the struggle against other forms of racism is immoral and outright racist. It should be condemned by all morally-consistent progressives.

Israel’s utter failure to suppress the impressive growth of BDS across the world in the last few years has prompted it to redefine antisemitism to desperately malign our strictly anti-racist movement.

As leading Jewish British intellectuals and legal experts have stated:

Criticising laws and policies of the state of Israel as racist and as falling under the definition of apartheid is not antisemitic. Calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to oppose those policies is not antisemitic.

We agree with the analysis of more than forty Jewish social justice organisations worldwide that we live in “a frightening era, with growing numbers of authoritarian and xenophobic regimes worldwide, foremost among them the Trump administration, allying themselves with Israel’s far right government while making common cause with deeply antisemitic and racist white supremacist groups and parties”.

We also echo their appeal:

We urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition and instead take effective measures to defeat white supremacist nationalist hate and violence and to end complicity in Israel’s human rights violations.

We need no one’s permission to accurately narrate our history, defend our inherent and inalienable rights, or mobilise principled international solidarity with our struggle to achieve them.

But we expect social-justice oriented political parties, like Labour, and progressive trade unions to effectively contribute to ending British complicity in Israel’s system of oppression that denies us our rights, to protect the right to freedom of expression, and to stand on the right side of history. We expect them to help us in the struggle against apartheid and for equal rights of all humans irrespective of identity. Is this too much to expect?


–    General Union of Palestinian Workers

–    Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition

–    Palestinian Union of Postal, IT and Telecommunication workers

–    Union of Professional Associations

–    Federation of Independent Trade Unions

–    Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate

–    Palestinian New Federation of Trade Unions

–    General Union of Palestinian Teachers

–    General Union of Palestinian Women

–    General Union of Palestinian Peasants

–    Union of Palestinian Farmers

–    General Union of Palestinian Writers

–    The Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE)

–    Palestinian Camps Boycott Movement-Lebanon (33 organisations from 11 refugee camps)

–    Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO)

–    Palestinian National Institute for NGOs

–    Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC)

–    Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW)

–    Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

–    Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations

–    Women Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products

–    Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

–    Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative

–    Agricultural Cooperatives Union

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.

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


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


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.

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.

UK unions urge G4S to end Israel occupation role now (Electronic Intifada)

Electronic Intifada

UK unions urge G4S to end Israel occupation role now

151204-g4s (1)
G4S has been protested by Palestine solidarity campaigners worldwide.

Anne PaqActiveStills

The leaders of some of the UK’s biggest trade unions and campaign groups are asking UK-based multinational security firm G4S to clarify its announcement that it “expects to exit” the Israeli market and sell its Israeli subsidiary.

G4S is being pushed for information about when the sale will take place and to commit to immediately stop working with Israeli bodies that are involved in human rights abuses, such as Israeli occupation forces and the Israel Prison Service.

The letter is signed by Unite the Union,UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, construction union UCAAT and the Fire Brigades Union, as well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want, and the Stop G4S UK campaign.

Broken pledges

When G4S announced in March that it intends to sell its Israeli subsidiary, the news was welcomed as a significant step forward for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

At the same time, it was clear that the pressure had to continue because G4S has a long track record of breaking its promises.

For example, a pledge G4S made in 2012 to end its involvement in Ofer prison and Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank by the end of 2015 was never translated into reality.

Now G4S is being pushed to turn its words into actions by trade unions representing millions of workers in the UK.

“We are concerned that [G4S] continues to provide services to Israeli state bodies that commit serious violations of international law and Palestinian human rights and that the announcement of a sale of G4S Israel may be used to justify ongoing complicity in human rights violations,” the letter states.

The full text of the letter addressed to G4S CEO Ashley Almanza and the six detailed questions it asks are at the bottom of this article.

The letter comes ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting on 26 May, where activistsplan to protest the company’s ongoing complicity.

The last five annual meetings have been met with strong protests and disruptions by campaigners over the company’s role in human rights abuses in Palestine, the UK and around the world.

The company has moved this year’s meeting out of Central London to Sutton in the far southwest of the city to try to discourage protests.

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights UK recently published an analysis arguing that the G4S announcement that the firm “expects to exit” Israel falls short of a firm commitment and that “withdrawal should take place immediately or as soon as practicable, rather than the nebulous stated period of 12-24 months.”

Campaign spreads

The fact that the world’s biggest security company and one of the world’s largest private employers is even talking about exiting the Israeli market is testament to the impact of the international campaign against the company.

Clearly, all the negative media attention, the lost contracts with businesses, universities and unions and the decision to divest by investors including the Bill Gates Foundation and the United Methodist Church are worrying G4S.

It is likely that the decisions by three UN bodies in Jordan to stop working with the company and thevote by the executive of the UK Labour Party to stop using the company at its annual conference were all particularly painful for G4S.

The international campaign against G4S was first activated in Europe but is now increasingly spreading to the Arab World, Latin America and the US.

Last week, BDS Egypt held the public launch of its campaign against G4S and campaigns against the firm are now ongoing in Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and Jordan.

A major restaurant chain in Colombia recently cut its ties with G4S following a campaign by BDS activists in the country and a G4S campaign is ongoing in Brazil.

The Trade Union Center of G4S employees in Uruguay also endorsed the campaign against G4S.

A coalition of US groups recently launched the website which details the role that the company plays in numerous human rights violations, including in Palestine and in US and UK youth detention facilities.

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 

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

[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

Europe’s largest teachers’ union endorses Israel boycott call (Middle East Monitor)

Middle East Monitor

Europe’s largest teachers’ union endorses Israel boycott call

NUT Logo

The largest teachers’ union in Europe has passed a resolution backing a boycott of companies profiting from Israel’s illegal settlements and occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The National Union of Teachers (NUT), which has more than 300,000 members in England and Wales, adopted the motion on Palestine at its recent annual conference. The vote was conducted by a show of hands, and passed by a clear majority.Christine Blower, General Secretary of the NUT, commenting on the motion, said the union “call[s] on the British Government to pursue vigorously the dismantling of the 700km-long wall which separates many Palestinians from their schools and their land, and to support the UN’s call for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza.”

The NUT also continues “to call upon the UK Government to fulfil international obligations in relation to the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners”, said Blower.

NUT delegates head a report from the delegation of Executive and non-Executive members who visited Palestine in October of last year, and “the strengthening of links between the National Union of Teachers and the General Union of Palestinian Teachers”. Conference delegates all received a post-trip report.

As well as a call for boycott, the motion singled out for criticism the Israeli government’s plan for the destruction of Bedouin villages in the Negev, and called for an end to “discrimination in education” faced by Palestinian citizens.

The motion also includes a call for the NUT to publicise the delegation report, invite speakers to meetings, and in addition, as per an adopted amendment, “educate the membership through publications, divisions and international solidarity officers of the ‘Pinkwashing’ propaganda used by Israel to make their citizens and the wider world believe that they are progressive in respect of LGBT rights, while distracting attention away from the human rights abuses they have instigated by their occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.”

UK’s largest union, UNISON, passes boycott resolution! (CAIA)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid | June 22, 2008

UK’s largest union, UNISON, passes boycott resolution!

UNISON – 2008 National Delegate Conference – Composite : AgendaID D – Palestine : Conference welcomes the fact that UNISON has adopted comprehensive policy on Palestine at successive national delegate conferences in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Conference notes that 2007 marked the fortieth anniversary of the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. 2008 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the “Nakba” which led to nearly 900,000 Palestinians refugees fleeing their homes. Many of them and their descendants still live in refugee camps and all are unable to return to their homes.Conference condemns the current siege of Gaza which threatens a humanitarian catastrophe through the denial of food, water, power and medical supplies by the Israeli government in breach of international law which outlaws collective punishment of a civilian population

However, Conference is aware that there is a still a low-level of awareness about the fate of the Palestinian people amongst trade union members and the wider public. Conference is also aware that this is among factors that allow both the British government and the European Union to pursue a foreign policy that whilst formally supporting the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state effectively tolerates the continuing Israeli occupation.

Conference notes that the Trades Union Congress in 2006 adopted a clear position in support of self-determination for the Palestinian people. Conference recognises the importance of the work in the trade unions to win support for the Palestinian people, to campaign for recognition of their rights and to bring pressure to bear on the British Government to end its complicity in denying the rights of the Palestinian people.

Conference notes that 18 national trade unions affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) representing over 80% of the organised trade union movement and recognises the potential that this represents for building a mass campaign of solidarity.

Conference recognises the importance of developing the work in the trade union movement at national, regional and local level and encourages all members and branches to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to seek to take initiatives that will strengthen this work in 2008.

Conference welcomes the work carried out by PSC’s Trade Union Advisory Committee and in particular the production of the Education Pack, which can be a valuable resource for work in regions and branches, Trades Union Council and with PSC.

Conference welcomes the organisation of the PSC led Trade Union Delegation of representatives of PCS, UNISON, UCU, UNITE (TGWU section) and TSSA, which visited the West Bank in January 2008. Branches and regions are encouraged to make the maximum use of this opportunity to organise meetings with delegates reporting back.

Conference supports the calling of a trade union conference in the coming year and urges the National Executive Council to work closely with PSC on this initiative and give it maximum publicity and support.

Conference therefore instructs the National Executive Council to:

1) continue to promote awareness about Palestine amongst UNISON’s members, branches and regions by:

a) acting in solidarity with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, including;
b) projects to support the Palestinian trade union movement in the Occupied Territories;
c) working with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other organisations and encourage regions and branches to affiliate to PSC and invite speakers to address branches;
d) examining the investments of their members’ pension funds with a view to calling for disinvestment from companies such as Caterpillar, involved in the occupation;
e) using UNISON publications and other campaign materials
f) Act on some of the recommendations from the PSC trade union delegation to Palestine such as:
i) actions focused on the occupation;
ii) organising fact-finding solidarity delegations to the occupied Palestinian Territories;
iii) conveying solidarity messages to those inside Israel organising against the occupation, the Wall, the
checkpoints and the blockade.

2) work with the TUC and its affiliated trade unions to effectively implement the 2006 Congress resolution, especially through the TUC/Foreign Office and the TUC/Department for International Development forums;

3) raise the issue of Palestine with UNISON’s sister unions abroad and especially the global and European trade union federations to which UNISON is affiliated;

4) work with anti-occupation forces in Israel, such as Gush Shalom and Machson Watch;

5) make links with and give support to PGFTU endorsed worker’s advice centres across the region;

6) continue to work with both PGFTU and the Israeli Histradut to promote civil society dialogue and the peace process;

7) campaign to bring about a concrete change in the policies of the British government and the European Union. A first goal should be:

a) an end to the arms trade between Israel and Britain and EU Member States leading to a mandatory United Nations Arms Embargo;
b) suspension of the European Union/Israel Association Agreement until Israel is in full compliance of its human rights clauses;
c) a ban on imports of all goods, and especially agricultural produce, from the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories;
d) recognition of the outcome of the last elections to the Palestinian Authority which were certified as free and fair by international observers;

8) Ensure that the union divests itself of any holdings in companies responsible for maintaining the illegal Wall condemned by the International Court of Justice.

Posted on 24-06-2008

Lecturer union urges moral review of Israeli college links (Guardian)

The Guardian

Lecturer union urges moral review of Israeli college links

The University and College Union voted overwhelmingly at its Manchester conference to call on colleagues to “consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating”.

Academics argued that it was not a new boycott, but a show of their right to debate the issues facing Palestinian colleagues and, separately, links with Israeli institutions.

Tom Hickey of the NEC and Brighton University, which proposed the motion, told delegates: “Being a student or teacher in Palestine is not easy … we are talking about not just impediment but serial humiliation and that’s the order of the day in Palestine.

“In the face of accusations of anti-semitism and legal threats we refused to be intimidated. We will protect the union from legal threats but we will not be silenced.”

Lorna Fitzsimons, joint head of the Stop the Boycott campaign, said: “Boycotts of any kind do nothing to promote peace and moderation in the Middle East, as well as undermining the academic freedom and integrity of British academic institutions.

“A boycott has never been the right answer for those looking to genuinely help Palestinians and Israelis. The way forward must be to build bridges, encourage dialogue and allow ordinary Israelis and Palestinians the opportunity to engage with each other.”

In a statement, the vice-chancellors’ umbrella group, Universities UK, said: “We believe a boycott of this kind, advocating the severing of academic links with a particular nationality or country, is at odds with the fundamental principle of academic freedom.”

National Demonstration for Palestine (Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

National Demonstration for Palestine

Saturday 10th May 2008


Assemble 1pm Temple Underground station/ Victoria Embankment, rally in
Trafalgar Square.

Organised by: BMI, PSC, PFB. Supported by UNISON, Public and
Commercial Services Union (PCS), Association of Palestinian Community
UK, Friends of Al Aqsa UK, War on Want, Jewish Socialist Group, Pax
Christi, Stop the War Coalition, Britain Palestine Twinning Network,
Midlands Palestinian Community Association.

Please make sure to put this date in your diary right now and start
booking transport to London. Contact your local PSC branch for coaches
and to find out how you can help.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779