Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s silence over the Zionist ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is as deafening as it’s embarrassing
Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s silence over the Zionist ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is as deafening as it’s embarrassing
the 3 wise monkeys, PSC Executive neither sees, hears nor speaks of anything going wrong
PSC Executive’s attitude to the anti-Semitism tsunami
One of the problems with the leadership of PSC
is that they are sometimes intoxicated by their own rhetoric. They are convinced that, under their brilliant
leadership and following the guidance of their own small political organisations,
the Palestine solidarity movement is going from strength to strength in an inexorable
and unstoppable wave upwards. In their
view there are no setbacks, nothing to be worried about. Everything can only get better.
In the past year, the Zionist movement, in conjunction
with the Labour Right and the establishment media, especially the Guardian, has
waged a war against Jeremy Corbyn using ‘anti-Semitism’ as its chosen
weapon. The lack of any evidence of
‘anti-Semitism’ has not been a hindrance to an Establishment consensus that anti-Semitism
in the Labour Party has grown like the weeds in an untended garden.
Brighton PSC demonstrator againt BBC coverage of Palestine
has also been a rebellion in the Zionist ranks in Britain which has completely
bypassed PSC Executive. Previously the
staid Board of Deputies, a bourgeois organisation dating back to George III in
1760, mounted the odd demonstration in support of Israel but did very little to
combat what was seen by Zionist activists as an assertive and growing Palestine
solidarity movement. The first signs of
a rebellion was when Jonathan Hoffman was elected as co-Chair of the Zionist Federation
in or around 2009. Hoffman was not a
particularly bright chap and he accused the Chair of the Jewish Leadership Councillors,
Sir Micky Davies, of various misdemeanours including being hostile to Israel. Davies doesn’t tolerate fools or upstarts
easily and he threatened a libel action before Hoffman made a grovelling
apology. This resulted, in 2012, in
Hoffman being removed from office in the Zionist Federation but his advocacy of
opposing Palestine solidarity activists on the street took root. An example of the debate within the Zionist movement
is contained in the newssheet of the Jewish
Israel News NetworkIn
support of the Zionist Federation Vice Chairman and other activists
2014 during Operation Protective Edge, when Israel murdered 2,200 Palestinians
in Gaza, including 551 children, the Board of Deputies mounted what was
considered a feeble response. Its
demonstration in London barely mustered a couple of thousand people in
comparison with the time when they got 25,000 on the streets. In reaction the Young Turks, grouped around
the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism
mounted a demonstration against ‘anti-Semitism’ outside the Royal Courts of
Justice. Board of Deputies speakers were
booed for what was considered their inactivity. Thousands
turn out for London rally against antisemitism Around the same time there
was formed activist Zionist groups such as Sussex and North-West Friends of Israel,
both consisting of the Zionist far-Right.
Sussex FOI were formed in reaction to the campaign against the
Sodastream shop in Brighton. They were
determined to prevent a repeat of what happened in London when Palestine solidarity
activists closed down Ahava in Covent Garden, which traded in stolen Palestinian
beauty products. Nonetheless the
Sodastream shop, in a major victory, was shut down, but Brighton PSC received
little help from PSC nationally in mounting weekly demonstrations which came
under sustained and vitriolic abuse and which faced a hostile Police presence.
Demonstrators on a PSC demonstration
‘anti-Semitism’ campaign in the Labour Party first began with Jeremy Corbyn
himself when it was alleged,
by the Daily Mail and the Jewish
Chronicle, that he kept the company of anti-Semites. It then resurfaced
with a vengeance this January with the bogus allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ at
Oxford University Labour Club. Its
Chair, Alex Chalmers, a former
intern for the Israeli propaganda organisation, BICOM, resigned claiming
anti-Semitism because the Labour Club had decided to support Israel Apartheid
Week. In March I was suspended, although
given no reasons it was leaked to the Telegraph
and Times, that the reasons were ‘anti-Semitism’. In May Jackie Walker was suspended and,
having been cleared of the allegation that she blamed the Jews for causing the
slave trade, she was again suspended
this month for remarks made in a Jewish Labour Movement ‘training event’ at Labour
Party Conference.. In between Ken
Livingstone was suspended
for having remarked that Hitler supported Zionism.
between we had the Chakrabarti Report which the Zionists at first welcomed but,
as part of their campaign against Corbyn, later denigrated. Coupled with that was the fake incident of
‘anti-Semitism’ at the Chakrabarti press conference with Ruth Smeeth MP weeping
crocodile tears. The latest event in
the false anti-Semitism campaign has been the Report of the Home Affairs Select
Committee on anti-Semitism. The Report
consciously confuses anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. By redefining anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism
it seeks to criminalise opposition to Zionism by saying that using Zionism in an
‘accusatory’ or ‘abusive’ manner should be a matter for the criminal law. See Manufacturing
Consent On ‘Anti-Semitism’
Over 100 people came to a talk I gave on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. A number of Zionists were able to speak and put their view across including Lara Gantz below. This is unlike Zionist meetings where dissenters are physically ejected or shouted down, but holding such a discussion was ‘anti-Semitic’ according to Ms Gantz
What has been remarkable throughout this bogus campaign,
manufactured to order in the Israeli and US Embassies, is that the Executive of
Palestine Solidarity Campaign has behaved like the 3 wise monkeys – they have
neither seen, heard nor spoken out about what is happening. They act like an alcoholic in denial. The opening paragraph in the notice that has
gone out about the forthcoming PSC AGM in January 2017 reads:
you for your support over the past year. We have had a hugely successful year
with actions and events across the country highlighting the situation
Palestinians face. But there is still so much more we can do and our AGM is a
key time for you, our members, to feed into our plans for the year.’
PSC Demonstration in London
One is reminded of what Bob Dylan wrote in Love Minus
Zero/No Limit: ‘There’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all’. The worse things get for PSC Executive the
better they are. The statement unconsciously gives witness to the problem. The AGM is a key time ‘for you, our members, to feed into OUR plans for the year.’ The role of the membership is to serve the Executive and its plans. It has no active role in determining what the priorities are.
There are a number of
reasons for this but in my view it is primarily because of the politics of what
has become a self-perpetuating clique that runs the Executive. They have depoliticised the struggle of the
Palestinians and turned what is a political struggle into one of human rights.
There are many campaigns in the world over human rights. The struggle of the Palestinians is not
exceptional in that regard. However bad
the plight of the Palestinians is there are many countries where the situation
is far more dire – Syria, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Afghanistan
etc. What makes the Palestine struggle
unique is that Israel is the world’s only active settler colonial state. It is the world’s only apartheid state. It is a state that is at the centre of the
West’s military ad strategic presence in the Middle East.
In response to the decision of the Israeli High Court that the Jewish National Fund could not refuse to rent or lease land to Israeli Palestinians, the JNF put on its website a statement that 70% of Israeli Jews opposed this decision and that 80% of Israeli Jews prefer a Jewish state to a state of all of its citizens. Could it be any clearer?
PSC is an organisation that supports BDS and the
struggle for Palestinian rights but it is not an explicitly anti-Zionist
organisation. It has no critique of the
Israeli state as an inherently racist, Jewish supremacist state which is based
on the racial subjugation of the Palestinians.
Indeed its support for a 2 State solution effectively means it supports
the continued existence of a ‘Jewish’ state within the 1948 armistice borders. It supports the quisling Palestinian
Authority in the West Bank, whose ‘President,
Mahmoud Abbas believes that repressing the Palestinian resistance and
supporting the Israeli security forces and providing them with intelligence is
‘sacred’. This is a regime which acted last year to
actively prevent a third intifada, which brutally attacks all resistance
demonstrations and activities, which uses torture as a matter of course and
arrests and hands over to the Israeli military Palestinian activists. PSC says nothing about this regime, whereas
the Anti-Apartheid Movement never had any problem in criticising the leadership
of the Bantustans or Buthulezi, the client Zulu leader.
It is because PSC has no analysis or understanding of
Zionism, the ideology and movement which gave birth to the ethnic cleansing of
the Palestinians and the refugee problemthat they have no answer to the attacks
by the media and the Zionists on ‘anti-Semitism’ other than to say that
supporting the Palestinians is not anti-Semitic. They have precious little to say about the
racism that Israeli Palestinians experience either.
There is a belief in PSC that the false and fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is an internal Labour Party matter
in which they should not get involved.
This is utterly myopic. The Israeli
Embassy, which has effectively seconded one of their staff members to be
Director of the Jewish Labour Movement certainly doesn’t take the same
attitude. It intervenes in every area where there is anti-Zionist or
Palestine solidarity campaigning. What
is happening in the Labour Party is not confined to the Labour Party. The affair at Oxford University was about
supporting an Israel Apartheid Week. The
suspension of Labour Party activists has been on account of their criticism of
Israel and Zionism. The Home
Affairs Select Committee Report which is recommending the criminalisation
of criticism of Zionism is an alliance of the Labour Right and Conservative
MPs. We are heading for a situation as
in France where BDS is all but illegal.
In Scotland a Palestine solidarity activist was prosecuted
for shouting ‘Viva Palestina.’ To treat
what is happening in the Labour Party as an internal matter is an illustration
of the political weaknesses of the current PSC leadership.
The other political weakness of PSC which is allied to
its lack of a clear anti-Zionist politics, is its support for 2 States. It’s Boycott activities relate primarily to
settlement goods. It plays down a
Boycott of Israel itself even though the settlements in the West Bank only
exist because Israel ‘proper’ supports them.
Indeed PSC is about the only organisation to recognise the Green Line
between Israel and the West Bank. Israel
certainly make no such distinction. A 2
States solution today is a position supported by all Zionist organisations in
Britain – from the Board of Deputies of British Jews to the Labour Friends of
Israel and Tory politicians. Why? Because the Zionists know that a Palestinian
state will never be formed. They can therefore
afford to support it.
The Peace Process is a war process. It provides the cover for the continuing
expansion of the settlements at the same time as it provides a pretext for the
denial of any civil or political rights to the Palestinians. Israel is today a single state, from the
Mediterranean to the Jordan, but if it gave the vote and full civil and
political rights to the Palestinians under occupation the Jewish state would be
faced with a position in which Palestinians were in the majority. So Israel has to maintain the present
Apartheid situation which is why it prefers to maintain the fiction of 2
If we contrast Stop the War Committee with PSC we see where
the lethargy and inactivity of PSC have led us.
The former have kept close to Corbyn and not allowed him to water down
his anti-nuclear weapons positions. Corbyn
was also a PSC patron. He has attended
virtually every PSC Conference in the past decade, or at least up to his
election as Leader of the Labour Party.
Since then? The words ‘Palestine’
have barely crossed his lips.
But Corbyn has patronised Labour Friends of Israel and
attended its fringe meetings two years in a row. This year, by all accounts, Corbyn’s presence
at the LFI meeting was marked by his friendliness to Israel’s uncritical
apologists for all things Israeli. Luke
Akehurst, an unsuccessful candidate for Labour’s National Executive Committee wrote
in the Times of Israel that Corbyn ‘at the LFI reception surprised everyone
with a carefully worded and balanced speech on both Israel and antisemitism, in
sharp contrast to the car crash last year where he would not even say the word
has also spent the year denouncing anti-Semitism without ever once condemning
the use of anti-Semitism as a weapon which has been deployed against the Left
and supporters of Palestine.
Internal Problems on
In addition PSC has been going through a number of
problems, all of which it has tried to hide from its members. I am reliably told that Hugh Lanning, Chair
of PSC resigned earlier this year and was reluctantly persuaded to withdraw his
May 2016 Lanning resigned as Chair of PSC with immediate effect in an e-mail
which he sent to the vice-chair and copied to all PSC Exec members and the
staff in the PSC Office. The resignation
came without any prior warning and the Exec decided to ask him to revoke
his resignation. Lanning did retract his
resignation but only some 3 weeks later. At no point have the branches
been informed of these problems which come in addition to the problematic resignation
of Sara Colborne, the previous Director of PSC.
told that the reason Lanning resigned was that he felt the atmosphere on the
Executive was negative and not supportive enough of him as Chair. By all accounts the Executive was shocked at
the way he resigned not least because of the timing which was right in the
middle of the anti-semitism attacks on the whole movement when PSC should have
been trying to push back on the attacks. Lanning has been on the ‘let’s keep our heads down and hope it will
all go away’ faction on the Exec.
The PSC Executive is worried that Lanning will bale out again when
he thinks the going gets tough. Apparently PSC Executive took weeks to decide
he should come back but it is not clear under what terms . I have a
copy of the resignation but I am not making it public at this time.
On April 11th
of this year I wrote an Open Letter to
the National Secretary of PSC, Ben Soffa.
I detailed the Zionist attacks on supporters of the Palestinians and
anti-Zionists, including my own suspension.
I wrote that PSC
prided itself on being the largest solidarity organisation in Britain and that
it had boasted in its Annual Report that it had contacted 1,042 candidates at
the General Election, yet it hasn’t seen fit to contact any Labour
parliamentarians to speak up against the attacks of the Zionists and MPs like
John Mann and Louise Ellman. I asked why
it hadn’t organized any public meetings with people like Ken Livingstone (who
of course was later suspended himself) or called press conferences, written
articles etc. I wrote that ‘PSC is renowned for its caution and
timidity but there must be some limits to this.’ Unfortunately I was
wrong. There were no limits. I pointed out that PSC had resources that
other groups did not. It has paid staff, media contacts, contacts with MPs
etc. and that it was ‘inexcusable
that it has done absolutely nothing to respond to the Zionists daily attacks.’ Whereas I and others had organised joint
letters from Jewish groups to the Guardian and Independent and complained about
the biased BBC coverage, PSC had simply
ignored what was happening.
I wrote that ‘The ceaseless political attack by the
Zionists on support for the Palestinians in the LP cannot simply be ignored.
They will not go away because their campaign is linked with the
determination of the Right in the LP to remove Corbyn. ‘Anti-Semitism’ is
their weapon of choice.’ It pains me
to say that I have been proved right. I
also predicted that ‘Until Jeremy Corbyn
firmly rebuts his critics he will continue to come under attack.
Appeasement rarely works. It is no use Corbyn saying that he opposes
anti-Semitism because what he means by anti-Semitism and the Zionists mean by
it are two different things. Their ‘anti-Semitism’ is, as they freely
admit, anti-Zionism. Until Corbyn speaks out saying that yes he opposes
anti-Semitism but yes he supports the Palestinians, including the Boycott of
Israel, giving chapter and verse on why Israel is a racist and apartheid state,
then the attacks will continue.’
On 20th April Ben Soffa responded to my
letter. The gist of his
reply was contained in the following paragraph:
“Many recent attacks reflect the
strategy set out by the Israeli strategic thinktank the Reut Institute in their 2010
report, which because of our successes, largely focused on PSC:
“A central objective is to change
this situation by forcing them to ‘play defense’. This means systematically exposing
information about delegitimizers, their activities, and the organizations that
they operate out of. The goal is to eventually frame them, depending on their
agendas, as anti-peace, anti-Semitic, dishonest purveyors of double
Ben accepted that ‘the upsurge in
attempts to link support for the rights of the Palestinian people with
anti-Semitism requires a new a concerted response’ referring me to a recent
branch forum in Birmingham in March and promising to ‘significantly increase the priority and resources devoted to this
area’ in practice nothing at all has
reason is clear. PSC Executive’s idea of
a response was to inform me that ‘we will
shortly be launching an initiative proudly declaring not only the legitimacy of
campaigning for Palestinian freedom, but our urgent duty to speak out against
the onslaught faced by those living with occupation, siege and exile. This will
include national press advertising, online publicity and other political
initiatives. Prominent within this will
be an assertion of the right to boycott. We will be explicitly refuting the
absurd allegation that refusing to buy, or declining to invest in goods, arms
or services from entities due to their complicity in breaches of international
law is in any way racist.’ Ben
further informed me that ‘We have already
begun discussions with partner organisation how we can better co-ordinate our
work challenging the attempts to smear our movement. We will be seeking to
bring together a co-ordinating group of organisations working in this area in
the very near future.’
concluded by adding that ‘I make no
apology for the fact that we do not engage in every debate some would wish to
involve us in. As the Reut Institute set out, there is a plan to force us to
‘play defence’ on the terrain chosen by those wishing to preserve the status
quo in Palestine. We must not fall into the trap of allowing our opponents to
set our agenda, which is precisely why PSC chooses to make the intervention we
feel are most helpful to the situation, rather than seeking to make every
intervention which might be possible.’
There are a number of glaring problems with this. In the first place, just because your
opponents threaten to put you on the defensive, it is no reason to therefore ignore
them. If someone attacks you then sometimes you have
to respond. How you respond is a different question. The fact is that the
Zionists have mounted a very concerted and successful campaign in the past few
months. The Vice Chair of the Jewish
Labour Movement Mike Katz got a standing ovation at Labour Party
Conference. The reason for this is
because the Zionists have launched their attacks in conjunction with the Labour
Right, backed up by the Tory Party and the organs of the state.
Whereas previously the Zionist organisations in the
Labour Party and in particular Poalei Zion/JLM were largely defunct, they have
recently been revived. To ignore the
Zionists in this situation is to do nothing about their attacks. It is in essence to adopt a position of pacifism. Not responding is tantamount to retreating.
The second problem with this is that it ignores the
central thrust of the Zionist attack.
Simply declaring the ‘legitimacy
of campaigning for Palestinian freedom’ is not
enough. It is effectively to ignore the
thrust of the Zionist campaign. The
Zionists aren’t saying that you can’t campaign for Palestine. On the contrary they say they support 2
states and an end to the Occupation (which of course is a lie but that is what
they say). What they are doing however
is to use ‘anti-Semitism’ as a specific weapon to attack the anti-Zionist Left. They have therefore taken out people like
Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Charley Allan and myself. They have made a particular target of Jewish
anti-Zionists. In such a situation to
simply say nothing other than to repeat that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism is
politically negligent if not worse.
for holding discussion with partner organizations and ‘seeking to bring together a co-ordinating group of organisations
working in this area in the very near future’ this is and was mere
words. Nothing whatsoever has been
done. The main group which has fought
the ‘anti-Semitism’ attack has been Free
Speech on Israel. It has not been
contacted by PSC. Whereas FSOI has been
consistently hamstrung by lack of funds and resources, PSC has these in
consists mainly, though not entirely, of Jewish anti-Zionists who have played a
prominent part in rebutting the claim that opposition to Zionism is
anti-Semitic. On October 2nd I posted a short message on
the Boycott Israel Network:
‘ Corbyn has
backtracked on BDS and PSC has said absolutely nothing the whole past year on
the anti-Semitism attack by the Zionists. PSC’s behaviour is outrageous
as they have made no attempt to keep Corbyn in line’. I referred
people to an article
I’d written on how Corbyn had effectively abandoned 30 years of support for the
Palestinians. Someone by the name of Salim
replied taking issue with my statement:
‘Tony, You say ‘PSC has said absolutely
nothing the whole past year on the anti-Semitism attack by the Zionists’
. In fact the
following was issued by PSC on 3 May 2016 and publicised.’
It is true that PSC issued
a statement. The problem is that this
was all that they did.
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead,
who is an activist with both FSOI and also Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
‘I am a PSC member, and I have seen nothing in their
postings that isn’t just a routine and uninspired recital of assurances that
PSC, and the solidarity movement is anti-racist and certainly not anti-Semitic.
Meanwhile a firestorm has been raging, alleging
rampant antisemitism in the Labour Party in an attempt to unset Jeremy Corbyn.
PSC has nothing to say about this?! Corbyn has been an excellent and committed
friend of Palestine over decades. The attack on him is at least partly (ie the
Zionist part) precisely because of this.
None of the many pro-Israel Jewish Community
organisations is holding back – from attacking him. They have funding, offices,
staffing, media contacts. PSC is the only Palestine support organisation that
has these assets, but does nothing with them. It leaves the defence against
hyped and invented claims of antisemitism to be contested by voluntary
organisations – BIN, Free Speech on Israel, Jewish Socialist Group – which have
nothing but their enthusiasm and energy to throw into the breach.
And in these 3
paragraphs Jonathan Rosenhead set out eloquently the case against the passivity
and inertia, indeed paralysis of PSC Executive.
Another activist in FSOI and J-Big, Les Levidow, also
responded and again I quote what he wrote in
After Salim’s message there was little response on
this list. Why? Perhaps because most of us have given up on PSC doing anything
more than ritual repetition, so why bother complaining? Anyway this
problem should be made more explicit. Let us review the recent history.
With the Oxford Union Labour Club conflict, the
‘antisemitism’ smear campaign began in February and soon escalated.
Spearheaded by the Jewish Labour Movement, all the pro-Israel forces were
throwing their resources into intervening in the Labour Party. Regardless of
whether we are members, we all recognised the necessity of a coherent
counter-strategy, especially against the JLM and its allies. We set up
FSOI to do so.
Some of us also asked PSC to deploy its significant
resources for such a counter-campaign. After several weeks delay, PSC
issued the 3rd May statement below. This does not even name the smear
campaign. It could have been the start of a counter-campaign, but instead
it was a perfunctory gesture: end of story.
When Bernard Regan was a speaker at a Haringey public
event (probably in May), I distributed the FSOI flyer and spoke from the floor,
asking everyone to help counter the smear campaign. His reply was basically,
“They want us to stop talking about
Palestine, so we will continue raising the issue.” Some PSC
people said to me that we need not (or even should not) involve ourselves ‘in internal disputes within the Labour
Party’. This response mis-recognised the enemy attack in several
respects, thus justifying no change in PSC’s activities and targets.
With our scant resources, FSOI has tried to oppose the
JLM agenda in many ways. We have regularly sent letters to the press, but only
a few get published. We have tried to contact, defend and link LP members
who were suspended for supposedly antisemitic comments. We organised
interventions against the smear campaign at the Liverpool LP conference. Given
PSC’s much greater resources and paid staff, what has been its contribution?
As a symptom of a deeper problem, we have just seen a Zionist
press report on pro-Palestine fringe meetings during the LP conference.
The pro-Palestinian fringe meetings were
downbeat, focused only on settlements, not on any broader agenda. The MPs who
spoke from the platform at these events took a moderate and considered line. In
fact, most of them are people who spent the summer trying to unseat Corbyn as
Judging from this and other reports, such events gave
anti-Corbyn, LFI-affiliated MPs a convenient cover, e.g. by merely criticising
settlements, supporting official recognition of Palestine, advocating a 2-state
solution, etc. Apparently little or nothing was said about BDS, much less
the colonial-settler character of Israel (except by Manuel Hassassian).
So MPs can be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine at the same time! The Zionist lobby
had little to fear from such events.
Those events symptomise a general political approach
which weakens the solidarity movement. A minimalist agenda helps our
enemies to distinguish between ‘legitimate criticism of Israel’ (e.g. settlements)
and ‘antisemitism’, e.g. opposition to Zionism. What was PSC’s role in
influencing those fringe events? How it will try to correct the above
Despite talk of ‘partner organisations’ PSC Executive is highly sectarian. It works with virtually nobody. It hasn’t even bothered to contact FSOI about how it might help. It opposed last year working with ‘Together Against Prevent’. This has to change.
Can Be Done?
The key figures on PSC Executive belong to a secretive
political group, Socialist
Action or associated splinters from the old International Marxist
Group. They are uncritical of bourgeois
nationalism and reject direct action or much political activism. Hence PSC has been completely uncritical of
Mahmoud Abbas’s quisling Palestinian Authority, even though it is a
sub-contractor for the Israeli Defence Forces.
This is in contrast say to Electronic Intifada which hasn’t hesitated to
criticise what it terms the Vichy administration in Ramallah. See for example The
Palestinian Authority stands in the way of the Palestinian struggle
PSC has become an organisation which simply engages in
routinism – an annual lobby of Parliament, a week around the Nakba or the
Hewlett Packard boycott, worthy in
themselves but they are incapable of adapting to what is a changed political
climate. In a situation where the Zionist
movement is on the attack, simply confining oneself to routine activities
represents an abandonment of politics.
At the forthcoming PSC AGM it is essential that a number
of people from the branches stand for election to the Executive. There urgently needs to be some new blood and
new ideas on the Executive. I am myself
prepared to stand for election although I had hoped that having served in the
formative period of PSC in the 1980’s that I wouldn’t have to stand again.
In addition there is a need for a serious review of
the way PSC operates. It has a number of
paid staff but they don’t seem to be used in a particularly productive
way. PSC rests on the activity of its
branches but the organisation as a whole is less than the sum of its parts. Although the constitution (which is no longer
available on-line) makes provision for
regional representatives on PSC Executive, the Executive has in the past
consciously sought not to implement this clause.
There is an urgent need for a dedicated Branch
Development Officer to encourage the growth of new branches and to consolidate
and help existing branches and indeed to try to co-ordinate things like
It is clear with the attacks on the new President of
NUS that there is an urgent need for some co-ordination and support for
existing Palestine societies, given the amount of support and funding that goes
to the Union of Jewish Students, which is a wholly Zionist outfit.
I want to suggest a Review of PSC is immediately set
up from this Conference consisting of 6 people, including the National
Secretary and one other Executive member, which can make proposals for the
future operation of PSC. It is long
overdue when there was a systematic investigation into how PSC is working, its
faults, failures but also successes and how things can be improved.
Such a review would look at existing fundraising and
improving it, the deployment of staff and any other matter that can lead to an
improved and functional PSC.
It is also crucial that the Executive consist
primarily of activists and not those whose days of activity have long since
gone. It is crucial that within the next
year, a regional structure of PSC is implemented and that regional
representatives, elected by the branches, take their position on PSC
Executive. The days when PSC Executive is
seen as the monopoly of one or other political grouping must end. This is crippling PSC’s effectiveness. This doesn’t mean a witch hunt of any
political group but a recognition that
PSC belongs to its members.
The most crucial problem with PSC is not
organisational but political. I suggest
a number of things:
It is long overdue that PSC junked its 2 state
position and came out clearly in favour of a democratic and secular unitary
state. Israel today is a single state,
there is no green line, but it is a state where half the population – the Palestinians
of the West Bank and Gaza – have no civil or political rights.
No doubt this will need fighting for in the
trade union and labour movement but we cannot avoid this fight. Yes people are comfortable with the idea of 2
states. It sounds as if it will satisfy everybody
but in practice it satisfies only one side – the Zionists.
A 2 state solution omits the question of Zionism. Zionism, the movement which established the Israeli
state does not and never has recognised a shared sovereignty over what it terms
the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). No
member of the Israeli government supports a 2 state solution but Netanyahu is
happy to pay lip service to the idea, despite rejecting it at the 2015 Israeli general
election because he knows and the Americans know, that verbal acknowledgment of
2 states allows settlement building to proceed apace. Further it allows Israel to maintain a
situation of apartheid whereby for another 50 years, Palestinians will live
under a separate system of laws and military rule.
Tzipi Hotoveli – Israel’s religious nutcase of a Deputy Foreign Minister
When Tzipi Hotoveli, Israel’s
Deputy Foreign Secretary said
‘This land is ours.All of it is ours. We expect as a matter of
principle of the international community to recognize Israel’s right to build
homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.”We should believe her. Even if a 2 state solution were desirable,
which I don’t accept, it is no longer feasible.
That is why all Britain’s Zionist organizations, from the Jewish Labour
Movement to the Board of Deputies support it!
PSC at present is utterly stupid for not being able to recognize reality.
We should also explicitly reject the idea of a Jewish
state. A Jewish state in the context of
a settler colonial state can only mean that the state is inherently
racist. Being Jewish means possessing
apartheid-style privileges. PSC should
be an explicitly anti-Zionist organisation.
If we are sincere in saying that Israel is an apartheid state we have to
oppose the ideology of that state, Zionism.
PSC needs to recognize that the outcome
of the Oslo Accords in 1993, when the PLO and Israel reached an agreement, is
that Israel has been able to subcontract out, a considerable part of the
repressive activities of the Israeli state to the Palestinian Authority. The PA quite consciously acts as the arms of
the Israeli Defence Forces. For this it
receives aid money. We should be quite
clear about the nature of the PA.
These are just a
few proposals as to resolutions to PSC Conference.