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Solidarity with the Palestinians, not boycott of Israel - statement from Unison members

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Sacha
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Jun 8 2007 14:36
Solidarity with the Palestinians, not boycott of Israel - statement from Unison members

Don't imagine two many anarchists will be big fans of this (on the grounds that it calls for two states), but you might find it interesting...

--

http://links-not-boycott.blogspot.com/2007/06/solidarity-with-palestinians-not.html

Statement in opposition to the calls to boycott Israeli institutions in resolution 54 and resolution 53, submitted to the conference of the public services Unison which starts on 19 June 2007. To support this statement, please email us at links.not.boycott@gmail.com, with your name and Unison branch.

All signatories in a personal capacity unless otherwise stated or obvious.

--

As democrats, socialists, critics of the policies and actions of the Israeli government, advocates of Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, and supporters of the right of the Palestinians to an independent state alongside Israel, we, the undersigned members of Unison, oppose the proposals at this year's National Delegate Conference calling for a boycott against Israeli institutions.

At first glance the idea of a boycott answers the need we all feel to "do something" in response to the seemingly endless carnage. But in fact a boycott would do more harm than good.

A boycott of Israel would at best exert only the most marginal pressure on the Israeli state. The movement to boycott South Africa continued for more than three decades, with only the most marginal effects on South Africa. Apartheid did not begin to crumble until the new black-majority workers' movement and the population of the townships rose up.

Moreover, boycotts of whole nations and their institutions are the crudest political weapons. They hit opponents of the government being boycotted, those who share the viewpoint of the boycotters as well as supporters of what the boycotters object to.

This objection had far less weight for South Africa because everyone saw it as pressure towards majority rule rather than aimed at crushing the whole country.

Apartheid was the exploitation by a small white oligarchy of a black majority deprived of rights. The Israeli-Jewish state in its pre-1967 borders did not depend on the exploitation of Arabs, and does not now depend for its existence on exploitation of the Occupied Territories.

A boycott would contribute to strengthening the sense of being under siege in a world of enemies which is a strong element in the power of the Israeli right, and weaken those in Israel who want a just settlement with the Palestinians.

The boycott brands all Israeli Jews (or all who do not pass some prescribed political test) as beyond talking to.

In Britain, a boycott-Israel movement would, inexorably, become an anti-Jewish movement, directed against those closely linked to Israelis, i.e. Jews.

Resolution 54 calls for a "boycott against Israeli institutions". Does that include such "Israeli institutions" as the Israeli trade union federation, the Histadrut? Or Israeli anti-occupation groups?

We understand and strongly sympathise with the desperation which has driven the Palestinian trade unions and some other civil society organisations to call for a boycott, but we do not believe it will help.

Much better, a positive labour movement campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, with the Israeli peace movement, and with workers on both sides.

Signed by:

Alexander Hay
Alison Brown, Yorkshire Ambulance
Anita Downs, secretary, Guys & St Thomas' hospital, London
Caroline Henry, shop steward, Sheffield Local Government
Castle Morpeth Unison branch Executive
Chris Allen, Political Officer, Leicestershire Health
Chris Leary, Surrey Local Government
Dion D'Silva, Wandsworth Local Government
Ed Whitby, Newcastle City Unison Campaigns Officer, Northern Regional Committee
Jacky Offord, Suffolk Local Government
Jean Lane, Tower Hamlets Local Government
Jill Mountford, Lewisham Local Government
Kate Ahrens, Leicestershire Health
Lesley Smallwood, Leeds Metropolitan University
Lynne Moffat, Islington Local Government
Mark Catterall, Todmorden
Mark Nevill, Leeds
Mike Fenwick, Airedale Health
Mike Perkins, Hampshire Local Government
Monika Schwartz, Islington Local Government
Nick Brereton, Newcastle City
Nick Holden, Leicestershire Health
Paul McGarry, Manchester Local Government
Pete Allen, Manchester Local Government
Rob Hope, Cardiff
Stephen Lintott, Chair, North West Anglia Health
Stuart Jordan, Youth Officer, Haringey Local Government
Vinothan Sangarapillai, Camden Local Government

Tacks's picture
Tacks
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Jun 9 2007 09:29

i thought you lot might be behind this.

Quote:
Resolution 54 calls for a "boycott against Israeli institutions". Does that include such "Israeli institutions" as the Israeli trade union federation, the Histadrut? Or Israeli anti-occupation groups?

No of course not you fucking wally grin

Quote:
We understand and strongly sympathise with the desperation which has driven the Palestinian trade unions and some other civil society organisations to call for a boycott, but we do not believe it will help.

...and israelis.

can you briefly tell us what:

Quote:
Much better, a positive labour movement campaign of solidarity with the Palestinians, with the Israeli peace movement, and with workers on both sides.

looks like? I mean, don't boycott, do... (?)

this piece makes some fair enough initial points but then acts like the selective boycott was some kind of blanket boycott of jews e.g.

Quote:
The boycott brands all Israeli Jews (or all who do not pass some prescribed political test) as beyond talking to.

riiiiiight.

For starters, 'israeli jews' - so the people boycotting will be targetting 'jews' not the israeli state.
ITS ANTEE-SEMITIZMMM!!!111

Secondly economic boycotts and snactions aren't a mass blanking of jews mate. Its not like jews are sitting there in the pub whilst everyone else avoids them.

The boycott is the end of a long dialogue with the peace movement in Israel and palestinian groups, the idea that the thought should be backed up with some kind of action. israel is a massively international place, and despite their popular belief that israel is going it alone, international dissent would be a real wake up call.

oh you left this here last time you posted:

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the button
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Jun 9 2007 14:48

Are all those members of the Alliance for Workers Liberty happy about having their full names posted on the internet?

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Tojiah
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Jun 9 2007 17:59

I'm not sure how I stand on the boycott. I mean, obviously, I wouldn't work towards getting it, because why the fuck would I care about putting pressure on the Israeli state to be more in line with what European states find acceptable.

On the other hand, I don't know how much it would affect me in practice. I mean, I don't own an Israeli business which will be hurt by this, and I'm not part of the academia, so I won't be losing any research grants.. and even if I were any of these, I suppose I could get enough non-leftist businesses and funds to get money from, and enough non-leftist clients, or enough straw companies to work through, etc.

The main problem with this is how it might make it more difficult for internationalist class-consciousness to proliferate among the Israeli working class, but Israeli "leftism" is a much bigger obstacle to tackle in that regard anyway, so meh.

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Alf
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Jun 10 2007 10:00

Agree with Revol. Boycotts like this have no internationalist spirit whatever. It's based on the mystification that some state regimes are morally worse than others, as is the comparable notion that the 'Zionist state' has no right to exist, which assumes that others do. It's based on an alliance with leftists who critically support all kinds of repulsive regimes and in particular support not only nationalist gangs like Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah but the repressive states that back them, like Syria and Iran. Tree: I don't know why you're having doubts about this. The leftists behind the boycott are no different from the ones you are fighting against in Israel.

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Tacks
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Jun 11 2007 13:36
Alf wrote:
Agree with Revol. Boycotts like this have no internationalist spirit whatever. It's based on the mystification that some state regimes are morally worse than others, as is the comparable notion that the 'Zionist state' has no right to exist, which assumes that others do. It's based on an alliance with leftists who critically support all kinds of repulsive regimes and in particular support not only nationalist gangs like Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah but the repressive states that back them, like Syria and Iran. Tree: I don't know why you're having doubts about this. The leftists behind the boycott are no different from the ones you are fighting against in Israel.

This is fucking nuts, everything you just said is a total assumption! How do you know the boycott has a differeing scale of states? How do you know it wants to eliminate Israel?

I'll go inot this if i get really bored, but everything you just said is an ulra-left assumption, the main one being that to form into a shared tactic is the same as forming an ideological alliance; 'You want to boycott israel? Suppose you think Bin Laden is great too eh?'

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Tacks
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Jun 11 2007 14:12

i'll get stuck into this a bit later, but as to why there is an obsession with israel over other countries - yes, because the left is not a rational body of groups and individuals but an ethically motivated, historically influenced beast. There is a particular interest in israel in the UK because: palestine was part of the british empire when all this crap began; the middle east in general had a lot of historical links due to the empire; left specific, many supported zionism either in response to anti-semitism or due to faith in stuff like the kibbutzim etc etc, the growing disenchantment with the project, especially of liberal papers like the Guardian, has been a big factor in why the left are interested. There is also the obviously european character of Israel as opposed to china et al; the huge number of european jews who went there; the left wing nature od a lot od jewish groups, the jewish nature of a lot of left wing groups - all ion all it feels 'closer'.

so, we have established that it is not an entirely rational preoccupation, often borne out of bullshit links of nationalism and 'identity'. So what, we drop any interest in the resolution of the conflict? Because it might associate us with people we dislike politically?

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Tacks
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Jun 11 2007 14:15
revol68 wrote:
Why not boycott China or the US? Oh wait cos youse would all have to stop buying consumer goods.

exactly; you can't boycott everything, its often not a great tactic. You have to apply it where it will work.

john
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Jun 11 2007 14:30

'

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Demogorgon303
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Jun 13 2007 12:07

I also agree with Revol.

On a broader note, the real nature of the anti-israel shiboleth on the left was shown at the last anti-war demo I went to in London with hundreds of people carrying pro-Hizbollah placards everywhere - right at the moment when Hizbollah were happily raining down rockets on Israeli workers.

Tacks, you also mention that we should not "drop any interest in the resolution of the conflict". The problem is that there is no real resolution to this conflict within the framework of capitalism because it's a point of confrontation between every major imperialist interest on the planet, not to mention the earlier ones. The only resolution the bourgeoisie have to offer is total war and the annihilation of one side or the other. The correct position - which Alf and revol have defended - is unreserved condemnation of all sides in this conflict and, more importantly, condemnation of the social system which creates the conflict. Anything less means effectively siding with capitalism.

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Lazy Riser
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Jun 13 2007 12:25
Quote:
The correct position - which Alf and revol have defended - is unreserved condemnation of all sides in this conflict and, more importantly, condemnation of the social system which creates the conflict. Anything less means effectively siding with capitalism.

"Condemnation" sides with capitalism too. Indeed, the very idea that a "correct position" exists plays to the hand of the bourgeoisie.

Quote:
The only resolution the bourgeoisie have to offer is total war and the annihilation of one side or the other.

They don't even offer that. The bourgeoisie have a vested interest in maintaining the conflict as is. The application of an appropriate number of KFF’s, casinos and brothels would quell Arab nationalist question much more effectively than military intervention, however as Iraq and (shortly) Iran show, resolving conflict is not the objective.

Which brings us to Tacks’ earlier point, that the Middle East question fulfils the emotional and psychological needs of the “left” and the chattering classes. That is to say, the conflict is an object of consumption.

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Demogorgon303
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Jun 13 2007 12:49

Including the very notion the bourgeosie and capitalism actually exist (rather than being imaginary), right Lazy?

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Lazy Riser
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Jun 13 2007 12:59

Oh the bourgeoisie exist. However, their power, like the power of Allah, exists only in our minds. It's something we give them, not something they take.

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Steven.
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Jun 13 2007 13:12

I'm not going to back this. The boycott's bollocks, but so's that statement. And most importantly what's the relevance of some motion about Israel passed by a few trots at a union conference? Bugger all.

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Lazy Riser
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Jun 13 2007 13:21
Quote:
And most importantly what's the relevance of some motion about Israel passed by a few trots at a union conference?

It provides an abstracted issue for them to discuss to distract attention from the mess in their own back yard.

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Tojiah
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Jun 15 2007 20:37
Alf wrote:
Tree: I don't know why you're having doubts about this. The leftists behind the boycott are no different from the ones you are fighting against in Israel.

I'm having doubts about attacking this boycott. I mean, yeah, I wouldn't initiate it or support it, but does it really have any practical consequences for me, or for the class struggle? Seems like a clear example of what Devrim would call an issue which the working class should be viewing from the sidelines, not participating in.

As for fighting against leftists, I'm beginning to suspect that the best way to defeat leftists is to ignore them, as arguing with them only enourages their feelings of self-importance, and other's esteem of their importance.

pgh2a
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Jul 19 2007 03:26

So, things are getting more interesting with the boycott. I read the statement of Histadrut:

Quote:
Histadrut Resolution - Refuting Boycotts
Added by David Hirsh on July 16, 2007 09:45:22 PM.
1. Out of belief in solidarity among trade unions in general, and the Israeli and Palestinian trade unions in particular, we strongly express our utter objection towards imposing any sort of boycott from any trade union that may directly or indirectly harm employees throughout the globe, regardless of religion, race, sex and nationality;

2. The Histadrut Congress rejects any attempt by a trade union to impose a boycott against the State of Israel, the Histadrut, or the Israeli employees and employers. Any sort of boycott, either as a means or as a goal is an utterly invalid act and it is an attempt to undermine the efforts to achieve a real peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. This Congress believes that the actions for peace should be conducted through a policy of negotiations and discussions and not by actions of intimidations and boycotts. The efforts for peace should be made through positive actions and fair mediation rather than tempestuous declarations and a one-sided attitude, as proposed in the resolutions of UNISON and the T&GWU in Great Britain.

3. The Histadrut views the purpose of the boycott towards the Israeli trade unions and academic institutions an illegitimate means, which basically contradicts the spirit of fraternity, cooperation and solidarity, which is a guiding light for every trade union throughout the world, creates unnecessary tension and substantially damages to the relations and co-existence between the Israeli and Arab unions in general, and the Palestinian trade unions, in particular.

4. The Histadrut Congress is committed to strengthen its relations with trade unions and confederations throughout the world in general and the Palestinian trade unions in particular. Furthermore, the Congress calls on worldwide trade unions to support the enhancement of relations with our Palestinian colleagues, despite the harsh political-security situation that the Israeli and Palestinian peoples face, out of the belief that strengthening the relations between us will be an example and a model for the leadership in the region in order to achieve a comprehensive and viable peace;

5. The Histadrut Congress will not hesitate to break off its relations with any organization or trade union throughout the world which will support the imposing of a boycott that may harm Israeli employees and employers.

As my fellow British workers would put it, I could give fuck all about Israeli employers (#5). I'm curious to hear what kind of programs Histadrut had or has in place with Palestinian and other Arab labor unions in the region. So long as people are engaging in resolutionary activism, I'd prefer to see a statement urging working class Israelis, Palestinians, etc., to organize with each other for their own long-term betterment, and cast aside the yoke of their nation-states and religious fanatic organizations (there are plenty to go around in the region)

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Khawaga
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Jul 19 2007 07:20
Quote:
I'm curious to hear what kind of programs Histadrut had or has in place with Palestinian and other Arab labor unions in the region

Histradut, as far as I know, has always been about Jewish labour and will rather co-operate with Jewish capital than with the Arab working class. While they've may have worked with Arab unions it's always been a Zionist union first and foremost.

pgh2a
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Jul 20 2007 00:51

Thanks, but I was wondering what programs they had to promote solidarity amongst workers. I am aware of their general orientation. I read something about them admitting Arab workers in 1959 to membership.

Ilan
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Jul 27 2007 19:32

Israel is not yet as Germany was inthe 1940s..... It is really democracy towards the Israeli Jews - even towards us the anti-Zionists.... and it do not put the palestinians in concentation camps - only 1% of them, and just keep them in enlarged Getos.

The request for boycott of Israel was issued along the years - among others, by the Israeli anticapitalist antiauthoritarians.

The main effect of such boycott will send a serious message to the Israeli "liberals" an "Zionist left" that sitting on their hands will bring them shame.

When the balance of power between the fraction of the ruling capitalist elite that support settler colonialism and the fraction that support globalization is nearing a draw, every small factor can change the scale and start the end to the hegemony of settler colonialism in Israel.