Archive for December, 2009

Racism and Anti-Semitism in the UK: Are union leaders and the Jewish community in denial?

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

In recent weeks I’ve had the opportunity to listen to leaders of trade unions and the Jewish community in Britain discuss developments that concern them.
The first has been reaction to the decision taken by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to call for a partial boycott of Israel and its more recent decision to praise the government’s decision to label West Bank products. The second is the spectacular rise of the far-right British National Party (BNP).


Twitter as a campaigning tool

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

The possibility of using Twitter as a campaigning tool was recently tested by LabourStart.
We were inspired by the example of American Rights at Work (ARAW), a union-supported campaigning organisation, that has recently taken on the American Chamber of Commerce (the equivalent of the CBI here in Britain) using Twitter.
ARAW took advantage of a new web service called ( that allows the instant creation of Twitter campaigns. (Their slogan is “Tweet change.”) They succeeded very quickly in mounting one of the largest campaigns ever using the microblogging service, with over 1,200 messages sent.
We decided to try the same thing in support of our more traditional global web and email campaign in support of striking Canadian workers at Vale Inco, a mining giant.


The problem with Amnesty

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

This article appears today on the Jewish Chronicle website and will appear in tomorrow’s print edition. It is also being reprinted on the website of Pluto Press.
In recent months, Amnesty International in the UK has taken a sharp anti-Israel turn. This will be obvious to anyone who receives the organisation’s bi-monthly magazine, which now features articles bashing Israel in every single issue.
For example, last summer the magazine carried a long report on a visit by an Amnesty delegation to Israel and Palestine. It was an utterly one-sided account, reporting the suffering of Palestinians without even hinting at the possibility that Israelis too might be victims of the conflict.
Amnesty condemns the building of the separation barrier without mentioning why it exists or the lives it has saved. Its report focuses on petty matters like the cleanliness of toilets at Israeli checkpoints, without a mention of why those checkpoints are there (to counter terrorism).