UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Israel lobby & British unions‏

Last week’s Dispatches programme ‘Inside Britain’s Israel lobby’ was compulsive viewing. A wide ranging investigation by journalist Peter Oborne, its purpose was to ‘investigate one of the most powerful and influential political lobbies in Britain, which is working in support of the interests of the State of Israel’. The programme is available for viewing for the next 21 days on 4 on demand. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide/series-42/episode-1

Much of the ground covered by the Dispatches programme can be found in an article ‘The Pro Israel lobby in Britain’ by James Jones and PeterOborne http://www.scribd.com/doc/22726961/Pro-Israel-lobby-in-Britain

A Guardian review of the Dispatches programme notes that “Labour Friends of Israel, another keygroup, is described as being "less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than CFI". But it has taken more MPs on free trip sto Israel than any other group – more than 60 since 2001”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/16/pro-israel-lobby-conservatives-channel4-dispatches

Investigative journalist Janine Roberts has written about the extent to which massive funding from the Israeli lobby has enabled New Labour to be less reliant on affiliated trade unions and notes a veritable roll call of past and present Labour ministers who have held senior positions in Labour Friends of Israel http://speakingloudly.blogspot.com/2008/08/israeli-lobby-in-uk_26.html

All of this helps to explain how the Israel lobby operates within theBritish trade union movement. It explains why the Trade Union Friends of Israel has a major presence n the events and exhibition areas at the TUC and other union conferences ininverse proportion to its support from elected delegates inside the conference halls. http://www.tufi.org.uk/events.html

It explains why junior Foreign Minister Ivan Lewis MP - whose reponsibilities include the middle east and who was a strong supporter of the Israeli onslaught against Gaza - (and vice chair ofLabour Friends of Israel until his ministerial appointment) personally made telephone calls to trade union General Secretaries during the 2009 TUC Congress amidst the 'controversy' surrounding the TUC’s near unanimous adoption of motion 76 in support of the Palestinians including a consumer boycott of Israeli goods,. http://www.congressvoices.org/2009/76-palestine/

It explains why the TUC General Council did a volte face and eventually put a final day statement to Congress which gave comfort to the Israel lobby (who had contrived artificial dissent in the media around a withdrawn GMB amendment which in any event had attracted little support and was opposed bythe General Council). http://www.tuc.org.uk/congress/tuc-16991-f0.cfm

It explains how unrepresentative trade union delegations are conjured up out of thin air and report back in terms acceptable to the Israel lobby. http://www.tufi.org.uk/delegation-blog/

It explains why pro-Israel reports from obscure sources are regularly placed in prominent positions on the news feed of the Labourstart website which is run by an advocate for the brutal Israel attack on Gaza earlier thisyear. http://www.ericlee.info/2009/01/the_battle_for_gaza_history_as.html#more

It explains why now more than ever the Palestine Solidarity Campaign requires support from UNISON members, branches and regions for its tirelessefforts to promote justice for the Palestinian people: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/Index5bwide.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=79