“COSATU supports the International week against apartheid Israel”

That’s the headline of a press statement on the website of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) today.

The statement opens with these sentences:

“In Palestine there lives a peace-loving people like all of us, who look forward to enjoying a life of decency and dignity. These people once had a place they called their own; the land, the peace, the environment, the natural resources and all that they possessed then. It was so until the arrival of the forces of occupation, in the form of the Israeli Zionists who took all that was ever possessed by these people and turned them into perpetual slaves without land and freedom.”

One can hardly imagine a more dishonest account of the history of Israel and Palestine.

This black-and-white, simplistic portrayal of innocent, peace-loving Palestinians turned into slaves by Jews is a vicious and dangerous lie — especially when coming from what has been, until now, one of the most respected trade union movements in the world.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is, as everyone knows, a bit more complicated than that, with rights and wrongs on both sides.  Which is why unions, and indeed all decent people, should be working to help promote genuine peace and reconciliation, and not stirring up hatred of one side or the other.

The full text of the COSATU statement is here.