Pro-Israel UK group targets Unite, accusing it of supporting Hamas

We Believe in Israel is a grassroots network in the U.K. launched in 2011 following a mass meeting in London attended by over 1,500 participants and supported by 26 community organisations.

Though considered to be “pro-Israel”, the group explicitly supports the call for an independent Palestinian state, saying on its website that it “desire[s] peace in the Middle East and support[s] a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, so that there will be two states for the two peoples.”

That sounds reasonable enough and is something that most trade unionists in the UK and elsewhere would agree with.

This week, We Believe in Israel launched an unprecedented call on its supporters to target the general secretary of Britain’s largest union, Unite, with protest messages. According to We Believe in Israel, Unite’s statements during the recent fighting in Gaza crossed a red line.

Here is what We Believe in Israel has to say:

Unite is the UK’s largest trade union. It has a boycott policy against Israel and is affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. During Operation Pillar of Defence, it issued an extraordinarily one-sided statement, which you can read here:

Among the most outrageous, biased and inflammatory statements were:

  • Condemning “outrageous Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people of Gaza” without any mention of the Israeli action being an effort to stop Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
  • Describing peace negotiations as “prolonging meaningless negotiations”.
  • Stating that “the Israeli government has laid siege to the Gaza Strip in an attempt to isolate the government and punish the population” when in fact the Gaza blockade is an effort to stop rockets and other weapons reaching Hamas.
  • Referring to “the illegal Israeli assassination of Palestinian leaders in Gaza” without any mention of them being military leaders of the Hamas terrorist organisation.
  • A call for the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel and affiliate to the PSC.

We Believe in Israel is asking people to write to Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey to let him know your concern about this statement. A model letter is here: