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Archive for July 5th, 2007

Say No to Racist Motions

with 8 comments

I am disgusted that my old trade union, the T&G, has passed a boycott Israel motion at its biannual conference.

Trade Unionism in Britain has been declining for years, and the political posturing which is integral to these odious boycott Israel motions will bring trade unionism into disrepute.

Trade union membership in Britain stands at about 29.9 per cent of employees, according to government figures for 2005.

1 in 3 employees in a trade union? Not quite as most trade union membership is now concentrated in the public sector, there are whole swathes of industry without trade union representation.

Trade unionists should be concentrating their energies on making unions relevant, not passing racist boycott motions.

Not that the decline in TUs will particularly trouble the political cranks and fanatics behind the boycott Israel campaign, to them trade unions are just a means to an end.

So if there is further decline in TU membership, as a result of these racist motions or if Jewish trade unionists leave the Labour movement finding it an uncomfortable place, then the boycotters will simply shrugged their shoulders and look for another vehicle for their obscene obsessions.

Trade unions in Britain should be encouraging links between Israelis and Palestinians, alienating Israelis will not help the Palestinians. Palestinians need support from British and Israeli trade unionists to rebuild their civil society and do away with the gun culture and corruption, which has infested it for far too long.

Links not boycotts are the way.

Update: HP covers the issue, and I’ve clarified my thinking since yesterday, when I was a bit annoyed.

The question becomes: how best to argue against a racist boycott of Israel?

Firstly, it is counterproductive and a bit silly, call to everyone (at the moment) goes along with a boycott an “antisemite”, if you wish to convince people and win them over to the anti-boycott case, then screaming “antisemite” or “neo-Nazi” at them, is the worst thing you could do.

I would suspect that the vast majority of delegates that went along with this motion thought that it might help the Palestinians (that may seem silly to us here, but that’s another issue)

So in arguing against the boycott with sincere and decent trade unionists I think the first approach should be: how does a boycott actually help the Palestinians?

Secondly, to explain, without inflammatory language, why a boycott of Israel is racist

Thirdly, to suggest positive moves which the trade unions could do to help both Israelis and Palestinians. And to emphasise that trade unionism is built on solidarity, building links between people, not alienating them or attacking them, directly or indirectly.

That’s a more sensible approach, rather than throwing a fit or screaming at trade unionists.

The people behind the boycott campaign are a bunch of malicious politically motivated cranks, but the wider audience is not, and shouldn’t be treated the same.

Slow and steady arguments will win over people, hysteria won’t.

Written by modernityblog

05/07/2007 at 01:13

Posted in Uncategorized