TULIP and TUFI challenge the pro-Hamas line in British unions

On Tuesday this week, a fringe meeting called by Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI) and TULIP was held in Brighton at the hotel next door to the conference centre where Unite the union was holding its annual event.  Why not in the conference centre itself?  Because Unite, unlike sister unions GMB and CWU, refused to allow TUFI to have a stand or hold its meeting in the centre.  Pushed to the sidelines, TUFI decided nevertheless to hold a meeting and to distribute its new booklet on the Histadrut.

Speakers included MP John Woodcock, chairman of Labour Friends of Israel; Roger Lyons, former president of the Trades Union Congress and currently chair of TUFI; Professor Alan Johnson, author of the pamphlet; Eric Lee from TULIP; and Alon Roth Snir, deputy ambassador of Israel to the UK.

Participants in the meeting included Unite delegates, local residents in Brighton, and even at least one foreign guest of Unite, from the USA.

There was a lively and frank exchange of views.

Eric Lee of TULIP  said:

The Histadrut, as I’ve said before and will say again, is not even close to being perfect. But the Histadrut is in fact a genuine trade union with hundreds of thousands of members.  It is imperfect — aren’t all unions? — but it’s a real union.

When UNISON sent a delegation over to Israel and Palestine some time ago, they went around asking everyone if British unions should sever their relations with the Histadrut. Everyone they spoke to told them the same thing: don’t.  Especially the Palestinians.

The Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions was absolutely clear about this.  You must keep up your relations with the Histadrut.  Just as the PGFTU itself has done.

UNISON’s leadership heard the report of their delegation and then went on sever relations with the Histadrut. They did exactly what the Palestinians told them not to do.

How can you call yourself pro-Palestinian and behave that way? I think that it’s because they’re not so much “pro-Palestinian” as “anti-Israeli”.