As the Obama administration reversed its decision to force a freeze on West Bank settlements as a pre-condition for restarting the so-called “peace process,” more important developments were happening in Palestine solidarity.
The first is the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation officially endorsed the call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
The second is the largest union federation in Britain, the Trades Union Congress, also endorsed the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli government.
These votes indicate a shift towards BDS strategies among the progressive and trade unionist Left that is part of a nine year development since the 2nd Intifada began. It could be argued there was an acceleration of this shift since December with the attack on the Gaza ghetto.
What is needed now is a return to the wave of divestment activity that specifically targeted institutions–campus, union and city investments. Support for Israeli apartheid is at the center of U.S. imperialism. Seven million Palestinians live either in bantustans and ghettos, or are in exile, faced with legal and de facto discrimination and segregation. The “peace process” is a sham to legitimize this situation under the watchful eye of a “native administration” in the Palestinian Authority.
The elites are wedded to this regime as a demonstration of their “liberal” credentials. By striking at the link between these institutions of university, union and city, and the apartheid regime, organizers expose its racist and undemocratic character. Finally, this is a an important tactic for the tens of thousands of Arab and Muslim people who have demonstrated and organized during the 2nd Intifada, the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon, and the 2008 attack on the Gaza ghetto. It is on this basis that a new Arab and Muslim movement in this country can form and fight back against white supremacy.
UK trade unions overwhelmingly pass boycott vote
Press release, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 17 September 2009
In a landmark decision, Britain’s trade unions have voted overwhelmingly to commit to build a mass boycott movement, disinvestment and sanctions on Israel for a negotiated settlement based on justice for Palestinians.
The motion was passed at the 2009 TUC Annual Congress in Liverpool today (17 September), by unions representing 6.5 million workers across the UK.
Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “This motion is the culmination of a wave of motions passed at union conferences this year, following outrage at Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, and reflects the massive growth in support for Palestinian rights. We will be working with the TUC to develop a mass campaign to boycott Israeli goods, especially agricultural products that have been produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.”
The motion additionally called for the TUC General Council to put pressure on the British government to end all arms trading with Israel and support moves to suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement. Unions are also encouraged to disinvest from companies which profit from Israel’s illegal 42-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.
The motion was tabled by the Fire Brigades Union. The biggest unions in the UK, including Unite, the public sector union, and UNISON, which represents health service workers, voted in favor of the motion.
The motion also condemned the Israeli trade union Histadrut’s statement supporting Israel’s war on Gaza, which killed 1,450 Palestinians in three weeks, and called for a review of the TUC’s relationship with Histadrut.
Britain’s trade unions join those of South Africa and Ireland in voting to use a mass boycott campaign as a tool to bring Israel into line with international law, and pressure it to comply with UN resolutions that encourage justice and equality for the Palestinian people.