Three Palestinian Unions welcome Obama’s speech

The Government Workers Union, the Health Workers Union and the Teachers Union issued a press release welcoming the Cairo speech of the US president, Barack Obama, especially his statements on the two-state solution, rejecting settlements, and calling for ending the Palestinian suffering.

The three unions stated that Obama’s remarks on Jerusalem as the capital of all faiths are very encouraging.

Leader of anti-boycott group in UCU resigns following anti-Israel resolution

Jon Pike was elected as an explicitly anti-boycott, pro-peace candidate to the National Executive of Britain’s union for academics — the UCU.  A few years ago, he helped lead the defeat of a move to boycott Israeli academics in one o the two unions that merged to create the UCU.  But following the UCU’s adoption of a resolution calling for the union to explore – yet again – an academic boycott of Israel, Pike has resigned from the NEC.  His powerfully worded message to the union general secretary appears below, in full.

UCU is now Britain’s most anti-Israel trade union says AFI

Two years ago the University and College Lecturers Union [UCU] adopted a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel which they were unable to implement as the legal advice they received made it clear that making a call to boycott Israeli institutions would run a serious risk of infringing discrimination legislation. The call to boycott was also considered to be outside the aims and objects of the UCU.

UCU votes – again – to boycott Israeli academics, universities

Britain’s main academic union voted overwhelmingly to boycott Israeli universities and colleges. The University and College Union passed the boycott resolution at its annual meeting last week. It is the fourth year in a row that the union has passed a resolution condemning Israel and supporting the boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions.

Unions move to overturn Israel boycott

Last month, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress became the latest in a series of unions to call for a boycott of Israeli products. Support for boycotting, divesting from and sanctions against the Jewish state appears to be growing by leaps and bounds.

It has already won considerable support from trade unions in South Africa, Ireland, Britain and Norway. It seems unstoppable. But we intend to stop it.

TULIP – Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine – is a new global movement that believes in engaging with workers and their unions in Israel and Palestine, promoting co-operation and reconciliation.

We do not believe in boycotts, divestment and sanctions. We believe in peace and in a two-state solution to the conflict.

Our new global movement seeks allies in unions and non-governmental organisations everywhere who want to work together to demand respect for all Palestinians, Israelis and guest workers living in that region.

Norway: Unions call for international boycott of Israel

Norway’s largest labor union urged the Scandinavian country on Saturday (16 May) to lead an international boycott of Israel if it did not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions with 850,000 members, said in a statement that both Israel and the Palestinians deserve to live in peace and security, and as long as this was not achieved, the Israeli government was to be held accountable. The organization urged Israel to put an end to the “illegal occupation,” respect the 1967 borders, halt the expansion of the settlements and remove the security barrier. The UN should play a proactive role to this end, and if these efforts fail, the Norwegian government should lead an international campaign against the occupation of the Palestinian territories, the statement further said. Source: Ha’aretz

UK: University lecturers to debate anti-Israel resolutions, but no boycott this time (maybe)

This just in from Academic Friends of Israel:

The good news is that the motions for the UCU annual conference at the end of May have been published and do not call for an academic boycott of Israel but like the NUT and STUC they call for a ban on imports of all goods from Israeli settlements in West Bank. They also demand that the British government expels the Israeli ambassador.

The UCU continues to be the most anti-Israel union in Britain with five motions condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza. It is regrettable that the UCU continues to place Israel at the top of their list of international issues without balancing it with a condemnation of those in the Arab world who are not willing to recognise the existence of the State of Israel.

It is not 100% certain that an academic boycott will not be discussed as UCU branches can send in amendments and these will not be published until later this month. As the issue is still “live” with the union one cannot believe that the boycotters will not try to insert wording that could be interpreted as a call for a boycott. In the recent national executive elections Sue Blackwell one of the original boycotters lost her seat on the NEC, otherwise nothing has changed as the Far Left still has control, so their ”Israel bashing” will continue.

Unions to train Palestinians seeking jobs in Israel

Palestinian and Israeli trade unions are running two joint training programs for construction and transport workers.

The programs are part of a trust-building program involving the two national trade union centers the PGFTU and the Histadrut.

Sixty Palestinian workers are involved in a six-month training program within the Israeli construction sector. These workers are employed by Israeli employers on Israeli wage rates and are joint members of the Histadrut and the PGFTU.

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian truck drivers are being trained together in a range of health and safety programs. The training course is being carried out in both Arabic and Hebrew under the auspices of the two national trade union centers.

Innovative new joint trade union project to aid Palestinian drivers

We’ve received this report of an innovative new project being launched by trade unions in Israel and Palestine with the backing of the international trade union movement. This is exactly the kind of positive engagement that can lead to genuine peace and reconciliation.

“An important area of cooperation between the Histadrut and PGFTU is illustrated by the joint project between the Israeli and Palestinian Transport Workers Unions. This project, which received the blessing of the Histadrut and its Chairman Eini, is being implemented with senior representatives from the Unit of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the PGFTU – Palestinian Transport Workers Union – and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).”

Canada: Union-backed boycott bid defeated

Canada’s leading supplier of outdoor clothing and equipment voted down a resolution that would have boycotted Israeli products, according to reports. A spokesman for the Mountain Equipment Co-op chain said the Israel resolution was defeated by more than half of participants attending last week’s annual general meeting in Vancouver. The motion was proposed by British Columbia Teachers for Peace and Global Action, or PAGE, a group affiliated with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. On its Web site, PAGE said it was concerned that selling Israeli-made goods amounts to supporting Israel’s policies, and “MEC’s members may not be aware of their organization’s disturbing lack of concern for the human rights of Palestinians.” The chain sells two products through Israeli companies: seamless underwear and a hydration system for hikers and bikers.

Jews and Arabs march together on May 1

May Day is perhaps the only holiday celebrated by both Israelis and Palestinians and this photo, taken this year in Tel-Aviv, illustrates what Jewish-Arab cooperation can look like.  The slogan on the banner reads “Marching against unemployment”.

Tel Aviv Jewish-Arab demo on May Day 2009