Irish Congress of Trade Unions: Leading Israel-basher in the trade union movement worldwide

ICTU logo.At its conference earlier this month, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) established itself firmly as the number one Israel-basher in the international trade union movement.

It adopted three resolutions that conform entirely with the Tehran line, the view espoused by Hamas, Hizbollah and their supporters.

Though no doubt many of those voting for the resolutions were well-intentioned, what they have done is ensure that the Irish trade union movement will play no role in a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Indeed, what they have done will encourage further conflict and violence.

The resolutions (which are reproduced below) paint Israel as an aggressor, routinely engaged in crimes against humanity.

There is no mention of the Palestinians except as victims. In discussing Gaza, for example, there is no mention whatsoever of Hamas (a Holocaust-denying Islamo-fascist force which seized power in a bloody coup and runs Gaza as an authoritarian state). There is no mention of terrorism, suicide bombers, or the thousands of rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza at Israel. Nor is there any mention of Iran, not even when discussing the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza which is to designed in part to block Iranian smuggling of arms to its Hamas ally.

The ICTU repeats (again and again) the vile “Israel is apartheid” slander, uses the term “Zionist” as an epithet, and so on. In one of the resolutions, it goes so far as to call an alleged Israeli sabotage of one the 2011 flotilla vessels as an infringement of Irish sovereignty, suggesting that the government do something about this. (Meaning what? Declare war on Israel?)

Much of what is written reflects incredible ignorance about the conflict, such as the repeated references to Israel’s “illegal” naval blockade of Gaza.

First of all, though the Iranian regime may consider this illegal (because it hinders their attempts to smuggle weapons to Hamas), the international community does not share this view.

It has now been widely reported that the UN commission investigating the deaths during the 2010 flotilla will conclude that while Israel may have used excessive force, the blockade itself is legal.  (The report will be released next month.)

The pro-Hamas activists in Ireland’s leading unions are pushing the ICTU into the role of leader of a broad campaign aiming to demonise Israel — and they are succeeding.

But the effect will not be to weaken the Jewish state or even its trade union movement (which the ICTU is boycotting).

The only real world result of all this is that the Irish trade unions have made themselves look ignorant and ridiculous, repeating Hamas-inspired slogans instead of playing a constructive role in promoting genuine peace and reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians.

The full text of the resolutions follows.

Session 5 : Towards International Solidarity
Motion 39 )

Despite growing world recognition of the mass violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli State, in breach of countless UN resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention, the plight of the Palestinian people remains one of being subject to apartheid, colonialism and occupation.

This Conference applauds however the rapid growth of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with the call of Palestinian civil society, including all sections of the Palestinian trade union movement, to take peaceful protest action similar to that which helped to bring about the downfall of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

We recognise the significant contribution shown by the Executive Council, by ICTU Global Solidarity, by Trade Union Friends of Palestine and by individual affiliates in this regard.

We commend the organisation of the Dublin Castle conference in 2010, the protest against the accession of Israel to the OECD, and the public protest in response to the slaughter of human rights activists on board the Mavi Marmara as they attempted to breach the siege of Gaza. We also commend Congress for the production of publicity and educational materials highlighting and promoting ICTU policy.

In order to further our campaign of standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people conference calls on ICTU to:

Organise with TUFP an initiative involving all relevant sectors of Irish civil society including the churches and in particular those organisations and individuals that have a public position of supporting BDS, with the aim of launching and coordinating a mass Irish civil society BDS campaign.
Organise through its education a programme of divestment and sanctions seminars in both jurisdictions to inform ICTU affiliates of the most effective and legal means to promote both.
Declare the support of Congress for the courage and commitment of all those involved in the Free Gaza campaign, and to encourage affiliates to materially support and if possible to participate in the attempts made by land and sea to breach the siege of Gaza and bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
Proposing Union : UNISON


Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Session 5 : Towards International Solidarity
Motion 40 )

This Biennial Delegate Conference applauds all those in the trade union movement here, including Congress officials and Trade Union Friends of Palestine, for their continued commitment to demonstrate effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Conference recognises that the ICTU taking the lead in coordinating and promoting a mass mobilisation of civil society across all of the island of Ireland would be one of the most effective ways to strengthen this campaign.

Conference therefore authorises the Executive Council to explore the promotion of an ‘Ireland Declaration for Palestine,’ encompassing support from all sectors of Irish civil society, that calls for an end to Israeli human rights abuses, the implementation of UN resolutions and support for the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Conference welcomes:

the progress made in producing educational, publicity and briefing material to help promote ICTU policy. We consider it essential, as part of the campaign of education of global solidarity leaders, and of the wider membership, that information is provided on the historic and continuing role of key Zionist institutions like the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund in planning and implementing the vast array of discriminatory policies against Palestinians that have now created conditions of Apartheid.
the decision of both the British TUC and the Scottish TUC to undertake a review of their relationship with Histadrut.
the campaign led by Jewish people of conscience across the world, including Holocaust survivors, to have the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund withdrawn.
Conference also wishes to record its deep concern at the alarming deterioration of Palestinian human rights in East Jerusalem. We note the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk that “the continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with forcible eviction of long residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation that can only be described, in its cumulative impact, as a form of ethnic cleansing”.

We are outraged that the Israeli Government continues to impose an illegal blockade by land, sea and air of the people of Gaza creating conditions of immense human suffering. The planned, deliberate and very public suppression of the people of Gaza, including acts of mass slaughter as in operation Cast Lead, are not just a denial of the human rights of Palestinians but are a most serious undermining of the value and authority of International Law itself and may have the gravest implications for all of humanity.

We applaud, therefore, the efforts of all those who are attempting to breach the siege of Gaza and to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza by land and sea. We similarly applaud and will seek to offer support to the efforts of all those Palestinians, Israelis, and international humanitarian activists who, despite being subject to increasing Israeli state surveillance and repression, struggle to uphold the rights of Palestinians in the West bank and East Jerusalem. We particularly applaud and will also offer support to the heroic activity of the Bil’in Popular Committee in its weekly protest action against the building of the Separation Wall and the seizure of Palestinian land.

We authorize the Executive Council to register a strong protest regarding the situation in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to the Israeli Government.

We also authorise the Executive Council to seek to have a meeting with the Irish Government at the highest level to register our concerns and to call on the Irish Government to take effective action including within the European Union to defend International Humanitarian Law and the rights of the Palestinian people.

Proposing Union : Derry Trades Union Council