Archive for September, 2009

Thank you, Amnesty International

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Amnesty International in the UK is calling on people to write to the Foreign Minister urging Britain to support efforts to isolate and condemn Israel. They write:
The UN-mandated International Independent Fact Finding Mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, has published its findings on the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel in December 2008-January 2009. The carefully argued report, which is consistent with the findings of Amnesty International, concludes that both the Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed grave violations of international law including war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity.
The Amnesty website encourages us all to send messages calling “on the UK government to spare no efforts to ensure war criminals do not get away with murder”. In an email to members, they express concern that the UK government may do no such thing.
But Amnesty’s website allows people to individualise their messages — to write their own thoughts, which they cheerfully pass on to the Foreign Minister. So I’d like to thank Amnesty for giving me a chance to write this instead of their text:

I am a member of Amnesty International but I do not agree with their call on the public to encouage Britain to support the Goldstone report.
As you know, Israel refused to cooperate with this UN commission because it was certain that the result would be accusations that Israel committed war crimes. The commission was biased from the start. Israel was right not to cooperate with it.
Amnesty is wrong to call on us to ask you to help bash Israel — clearly what is needed is a re-launch of the peace process, based on the Road Map, and not something that will only benefit Hamas.

TUC should focus on Iran, not Israel

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

The TUC was right to discuss international affairs at its annual congress. Unions have been involved in global solidarity actions for more than 150 years. In an increasingly globalised world, unions have to make their voices heard on issues affecting their members and working people abroad.
The problem is that the decision the TUC took to support boycotts, sanctions and divestment targeting Israel was the wrong one. The energetic campaign to target the most democratic and lively trade union federation in the Middle East, the Israeli Histadrut, is a disappointing case of misplaced priorities. Iran, not Israel, should have been the focus of TUC attention this year.
To read the rest of this article, which appeared on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website, click here.

Bread and Roses

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

This article appears in the current issue of Labour Research.
“It’s not enough for working people to feed our bodies with bread — we also have to nourish our hearts and spirits with art.”
Those words appear on the first page of an entire website devoted to working class art and culture — part of the website of the AFL-CIO, one of America’s national trade union centres.
This site-within-a-site (located here) exploits some of the advantages of the web, reproducing not only text but multimedia and interactive elements as well.


TUC boycott call could lead to sanctions against Israel

Friday, September 4th, 2009

This article appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle.
If the TUC adopts the resolution proposed by the Fire Brigades Union, the implications are far-reaching.
First and most important, it opens the way for the Labour Party, in which the unions play an increasingly important role, to shift its own views on the Middle East toward a more pro-Palestinian position.
This could result in the British government supporting sanctions targeting Israel. As the UK is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, this might even mean an eventual push for UN sanctions against the Jewish state.