This sounds like really good news — at first. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is to this Friday host an “International Conference on the Middle East which will feature contributions from Palestine, Israel, the United States, Canada, South Africa and the European Union” according a report on their website.
But the conference agenda gives cause for concern that this will not exactly be a balanced discussion. (As does the ICTU’s previous commitment to the campaign of boycotts, divestments and sanctions targetting Israel.)
Though the organizers have invited a representative of the Israeli trade union movement (the Histadrut) and the Jewish Labor Commitee from the USA, none of the other speakers are opponents of, or even skeptical about, the pro-BDS agenda the ICTU is promoting.
For example, while the Jewish Labor Committee represents very mainstream elements both in the Jewish community and the trade union movement, its speaker is being “balanced” by a representative of a tiny fringe anti-Zionist grouplet.
Though there is one Israeli speaker, there are at least four Palestinian speakers:
- Hanna Siniora, Israel-Palestine Centre
- Omar Barghouti, Palestinian National Committee for BDS
- Fathi Nasser, PGFTU
- Mr. Raed Sadeq, executive & programs director of the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Centre, Palestine
And while there is one anti-BDS speaker (the Jewish Labor Committee) from outside the region, this is “balanced” by no fewer than six representatives of organizations that campaign for BDS.
- Michael Letwin, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network-Labour and Labour for Palestine (U.S.);
- Tyotyo Hubert James, first vice president of COSATU;
- Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary, Scottish TUC;
- Owen Tudor, TUC;
- Mary-Jo Nadeau, International Solidarity Committee of CUPE Ontario and Labour for Palestine Canada
- Mags O’Brien, Trade Union Friends of Palestine
It might be remarked in defense of the conference organizers that the overwhelming trend in the international trade union movement is to support the BDS campaign and isolate the Jewish state.
But this is not true.
Could the organizers not have found representatives of, say, the trade union movement in Germany — which is outspoken in its opposition to the boycott of Israel? Or perhaps top trade union leaders in the UK, USA and Australia who have lent their support to TULIP?
This kind of one-sided Israel-bashing will do little to promote the goal of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East — but will aid those who want to isolate and demonize Israel.