The Scottish Trades Union Congress this week backed boycotts and disinvestment, and called for sanctions against the state of Israel because of the state’s failure to comply with international laws and agreed principles of human rights.
Following extensive debate and deliberation, the Scottish trade unions have endorsed a report recommending the STUC support a boycott and disinvest from Israeli companies, call for sanctions against Israel, and encourage positive investments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Speaking after the debate at the Congress, STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith, said: “The STUC is deeply concerned at the daily violations of human rights experienced by Palestinian people. The decision taken by our Congress is not a knee jerk reaction, but arrived at after careful consideration over a two year period. During this time the STUC engaged in discussions with interested groups in Scotland and the UK, and undertook a fact finding delegation to Israel and Palestine”.
Mr Smith added “by taking this decision, the STUC intends to campaign for economic, political and social pressure to be brought upon the Israeli Government, and world powers, to reach a peaceful and just two state solution for Palestine and Israel”.
For further information contact Mary Senior 0141 337 8100
STUC Reaffirms Israel Boycott & Condemns The Histadrut
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Media Release 22 April 2010
The Scottish Trades Union Congress reiterated its commitment to a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel at its annual meeting in Dundee yesterday, just days after a BBC poll described international attitudes to the country as “widely negative”.
The motion, presented by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), also slammed Gordon Brown’s government for being “complicit in allowing Israel to continue to act with impunity”, and “condemned” Israel’s trade union body, Histadrut, for its support of last year’s attacks on Gaza.
During a meeting with Histadrut leaders in Israel last year, STUC delegates had been surprised to discover the union had endorsed Israel’s attack on Gaza, describing it as “an act of justifiable self-defence”. The United Nations and human rights groups say that civilians made up most of the 1400 Palestinian fatalities, while most of the 13 Israeli dead were combatants, including 4 killed accidentally by their own troops.
Jim Malone, FBU Regional Organiser, welcomed the unanimous decision by the STUC to pass the composite motion on Palestine as “a clear message of support to the Palestinian people” and said that “in condemning Histadrut for its collusion in the continued oppression and dehumanisation process by the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, the STUC have shown the lead and look set to break its link with the government sponsored Histadrut.”
Delegates also unanimously passed an emergency motion calling for the cancellation of an exhibition to be held at the Scottish Parliament next week, organised by Scottish Friends of Israel. The resolution deplored “Parliament’s acquiescence to this blatant example of Israeli State propaganda” and follows a decision by the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee on Tuesday to support a petition by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign also calling for the cancellation of the exhibition.
Notes for editors:
1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland and elsewhere.
For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591
2. Scottish Trade Unions Call for Boycott of Israel, April 24th 2009
“The STUC is deeply concerned at the daily violations of human rights experienced by Palestinian people. The decision taken by our Congress is not a knee jerk reaction, but arrived at after careful consideration over a two year period. During this time the STUC engaged in discussions with interested groups in Scotland and the UK, and undertook a fact finding delegation to Israel and Palestine”.
3. Histadrut Statement on Gaza; 13 Jan 2009
4. SCoJeC quote:
Jewish Chronicle, April 17, 2009: Scottish TUC set to call for boycott and divestment
5. Gaza casualty figures:
The Guardian, 15 Jan 2009: Israeli human rights groups speak out as death toll passes 1,000
CNN; September 9, 2009: Rights group: Israeli offensive killed mostly civilians
6. STUC Congress motion, 22 April 2010
Composite P – Palestine (covering motion nos. 104, 105, 106 and amendment)
“That this Congress notes that a year after the barbaric onslaught of Gaza, the collective punishment and near imprisonment of its people by the Israeli occupation forces continues. Congress recognises, however, that the Government is complicit in allowing Israel to continue to act with impunity.
“Congress is proud of the STUC’s history of support for the rights of the Palestinian people and welcomes the efforts of the General Council to carry forward the 2009 resolution on boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel, alongside COSATU and the ICTU.
“Congress applauds the work by the FBU in supporting Palestinian workers through the visit in November 2009 to Scotland of eight firefighters from Nablus.
“Congress asks the General Council to:
Condemn the Histadrut statement, regarding the attacks on Gaza;
Campaign against the complicity of our politicians;
Continue STUC’s review of its relationship with Histadrut, including the long-standing links between the Jewish National Fund and Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity; and
Encourage positive investment in Palestinian public services throughout the Scottish Trade Union Movement, with the creation by the STUC of a training/skills forum for Palestinian workers, following discussions with the relevant organisations, such as the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.”
Mover: Fire Brigades Union
Seconder: Dundee TUC
Supporter: Midlothian TUC
7. BBC Poll
Global Views of United States Improve While Other Countries Decline, 18 April 2010 (Views on Israel at p15)
Scottish labor federation reaffirms its support for boycott
Jonny Paul, Jerusalem Post 30 April 2010
STUC also votes to review ties with Histadrut.
LONDON – Scotland’s trade union federation voted last week to reaffirm its support of the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), the umbrella organization of trade unions in Scotland, said at its annual conference in Dundee that it was backing the campaign because of Israel’s “failure to comply with international laws and agreed principles of human rights.”
“Following extensive debate and deliberation, the Scottish trade unions have endorsed a report recommending STUC support a boycott and disinvest from Israeli companies, call for sanctions against Israel, and encourage positive investments in the occupied Palestinian territories,” STUC said.
Last year, it also voted to support a boycott and “review” of its relationship with Israel’s Histadrut labor federation. In December, it launched a “STUC Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions activists pack” to further its work.
Speaking after the debate, STUC general-secretary Grahame Smith said: “The STUC is deeply concerned at the daily violations of human rights experienced by Palestinian people.
“The decision taken by our Congress is not a knee-jerk reaction, but arrived at after careful consideration over a two year period. During this time the STUC engaged in discussions with interested groups in Scotland and the UK, and undertook a fact finding delegation to Israel and Palestine.”
The delegation visited the region in February 2009. It met with Histadrut and Palestinian trade union representatives and with Israeli rights group B’Tselem. It also laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.
Following the visit, Smith called for a “divisive” boycott.
“On our recent visit to Israel and Palestine, we witnessed the human rights violations experienced by ordinary Palestinians on a daily basis. We saw how restrictions on movement and checkpoints prevent people from going to work, to school and to visit their families even when they are sick and dying,” he said at the time.
“We heard powerful arguments from [Palestinian rights group] Al-Haq outlining how Israel is in breach of the Geneva Convention and the need for other signatories to international laws to hold Israel to account,” he added.
Smith went on to say the STUC had “carefully considered” the complex issues and concluded: “We believe that we have a moral obligation to show solidarity to Palestinian people. STUC calls for divisive boycott of Israel.”
Last week, Smith reaffirmed the STUC commitment to a boycott of Israel.
“By taking this decision, the STUC intends to campaign for economic, political and social pressure to be brought upon the Israeli government, and world powers, to reach a peaceful and just two-state solution for Palestine and Israel,” Smith said.
Israel was the subject of four motions at the three-day conference. Motion 105, raised by Midlothian TUC, accused Israel of war crimes and the British government of being complicit in them.
“This Congress notes that a year after the barbaric onslaught of Gaza, the collective punishment and near imprisonment of its people by the Israeli occupation forces continues,” the motion read. “Congress welcomes the efforts of the STUC to carry forward the 2009 resolution on boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Congress recognizes, however, that our own government is complicit in allowing Israel to continue to act with impunity.
“Congress asks the [STUC] general council and affiliates to campaign against the complicity of our politicians, and demands their support for the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council that Israel should be prosecuted for war crimes.”
Raised by Dundee TUC, Motion 106 called for a complete boycott, the isolation of the Histadrut and action against the Jewish National Fund.
“That this Congress is proud of the STUC’s history of support for the rights of the Palestinians, and the leading role it has taken, alongside the Congress of South African Trade Unions and Irish Congress of Trade Unions, as confederations supporting a BDS policy against the Israeli state, in support of the Palestinian people,” the motion said.
“Congress now believes that a more critical policy should be adopted in relation to the JNF and the Histadrut. It believes that the JNF was founded, and continues to act, to promote exclusively Jewish access to land in Israel, Palestine and the occupied territories, to the exclusion of Palestinians.
“Congress believes that the JNF’s activities, and the organizations that it supports, function almost exclusively for the purpose of securing and expanding the Israeli state’s Zionist colonization of Palestine, the occupied territories and Palestinian-owned land within Israel.
“Congress notes the longstanding links between the JNF and the Histadrut and believes that the Histadrut requires to be isolated, as part of our wider policy of BDS, as a tactic to pressurize it to amend its policies and practices, as they concern Palestinian workers and the wider struggle for self-determination of the Palestinian people,” concluded the motion.
The motion called for the Scottish charity regulator to review JNF’s charity status and for the STUC to withdraw its recognition of the Histadrut “until a time when Congress feels it follows policies and practices consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity.”
However, following the intervention of the Fire Brigade Union, the motion that passed replaced the call to sever ties with the Histadrut to “reviewing” them.
“Condemn the Histadrut statement, regarding the attacks on Gaza, and calls on the general council to carry out a further review of the STUC’s relationship with Histadrut, to determine if their policies and practices are consistent with international trade union standards of equality and solidarity,” the Fire Brigade Union amendment read.
Jim Malone, from the Fire Brigade Union, said it sends “a clear message of support to the Palestinian people”
“In condemning Histadrut for its collusion in the continued oppression and dehumanization process by the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, the STUC have shown the lead and look set to break its link with the government sponsored Histadrut.”
Last year, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions voted to support a boycott of Israeli goods and services. Last week, the Irish Congress held a one-day conference that looked at furthering the BDS campaign among trade unions in Ireland.
“The STUC has shown, yet again, that it is only interested in divisive and counterproductive boycott calls rather than contributing in a constructive way. Calls for a boycott only help those working to delegitimize Israel and do nothing to help Palestinian workers,” said Stephen Scott, from Trade Union Friends of Israel.
“The STUC, which has nothing like the stature and influence of the TUC [the UK’s Trades Union Congress], has a long history antipathy to Israel and even the Histadrut,” said Stanley Grossman, from Scottish Friends of Israel. “These anti-Israel motions ignore any considerations for the security of Arab labor in Israel or from the Palestinian Authority and are not much more than gesture-politics aimed to satisfy the more virulently anti-Israel elements, mainly far-left. However unpleasant and uncomfortable, they will probably have little direct effect on Israel trade and even less in the wider political sphere.”
"[Deportation at the airport] We saw the injured [Turkish] men going through.. a lot had a leg cut out of their trousers or an arm cut out of their top. It had been cut out to treat their wounds.. they were covered in blood, blood that had been there for three days, and some of them had wounds that were still bleeding.. What upset me most was seeing the dozen men, one after another, hobbling across the terminal, with a bandaged foot. I couldn't ask them why so many of them had a bandaged foot, I couldn't ask them what had happened, because if they spoke or if any of us spoke to them the Israelis beat the injured person.. We later found out that they had these injuries on the tops of their feet from when the troops came down from the helicopter on the Mavi Marmara, and they came down firing - they had been shot from above. Some of the men that were killed were shot at close range - head and chest, but a dozen of the men who were shot, among 59 people who were shot, they were shot at the tops of their feet - the bullets were coming down.. They weren't given a wheelchair or a pair of crutches, and if any of the other passengers stood up and tried to offer [help].. that person was dragged away and smacked by these Israelis. The Israeli soldiers sat on the floor, laughed and sniggered and made every one of these Turkish men hobble and hop all the way across, some 200 metres, everyone of them, one by one, made to do that purely for the sick amusement of the Israeli soldiers."