Why We Need a Genuine Palestine Solidarity Movement

Why We Need a Genuine Palestine Solidarity Movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why We Need a Genuine Palestine Solidarity Movement

The Failure of PSC to Oppose Zionism and the Jewish Supremacist Nature of the Israeli State Renders it Politically Incoherent

Palestinian thugs attack demonstration

In 1982 I was among a group of people who founded PSC in a meeting at the University of London Union. It was shortly before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. It gives me no pleasure to say that the organisation we formed is today incapable of building a mass solidarity organisation in the same way as the Anti-Apartheid Movement [AAM] did a generation ago.

As Bob Dylan said The Times They Are A Changing. The old lies about Israel being ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ or the Israeli army being ‘the most moral army in the world’ don’t have quite the same ring to it when you see police firing stun grenades inside a mosque or children being battered.

Today there is a real possibility of building a mass movement in support of the Palestinians and engaging with the thousands of young people who demonstrated last summer for Black Lives Matter. The narrative around Israel is changing however many times robots like Keir Starmer claim that they are ‘Zionists without qualification.’ The production of two reports this year, by B’Tselem and then Human Rights Watch, describing Israel as an apartheid state, is a game changer. Coupled with Israel’s ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem and its mass murder spree in Gaza, it is no longer possible to hide the reality of Israel no matter how many times false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are made. There is no longer any stopping the process of Israel’s ‘delegitimisation’.

There is no Palestine

But as long as PSC is controlled by two tiny, quasi Stalinist groups, Socialist Action and the Communist League, Israel will have little to fear. Both SA and CL fear, quite correctly, that if a mass movement developed they would lose control. In short they have a vested interest in not building a mass movement around Palestine.

You only have to ask what steps did PSC’s leadership take to link up with Black Lives Matter or Extinction Rebellion? Or what steps did PSC take to support the demonstrations against the Police & Crime Bill. PSC is not interested in linking up with other movements.

Nick Georges climbs crane

What is the political basis of PSC’s failures?

Quite simply it is that PSC is not anti-Zionist. To be pro-Palestinian and not anti-Zionist is like opposing the oppression of Black people in South Africa without being anti-Apartheid. Zionism is the cause of all the Palestinian ills. It cannot be ignored because it is tactically convenient to do so.

PSC refuses to allow anything to get in the way of subordinating its politics to the trade union bureaucracy. In practice that means supporting the two state solution which is the antithesis of anti-Zionism. By definition supporting 2 states means accepting a Zionist State of Israel.

If you have a look at PSC’s 2020 Annual Report or the previous one you will search in vain for the words ‘Zionism’ or ‘Zionist’. It must be a complete mystery to much of PSC’s membership why Israel behaves as it does. Perhaps the Israelis are particularly malevolent. PSC calls Israel an apartheid state but it never explains why Israel is an apartheid state or how it became one.

Still less does PSC talk about Israel as a Jewish Supremacist state ,a conclusion that even B’Tselem came to, because of its fears of being called anti-Semitic.

In practice, PSC has always supported a two state solution. In 1993 it supported the Oslo Accords (which didn’t even promise a Palestinian state). As has become clear to most people, the two state solution was never other than a smokescreen under cover of which Israel’s settlements expanded. It was always an illusion because the Zionist movement always claimed the entire Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).

It was Oslo which created the monstrosity that is the Palestinian Authority. In October 1993. In a debate with Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialists Group I wrote:

The agreement provides for a Palestinian police force up to 30,000 strong. Their first duty will be to suppress Palestinian dissent and any resistance to the Accord. Little wonder that this provision evokes such Israeli enthusiasm….This is an agreement built on shifting sands. It represents a massive victory for imperialism.

Virtually everything that I predicted has come true. It did not need a crystal ball to predict that Oslo would be a disaster. All you needed to understand was the nature of the Zionist settler colonial movement.

PSC has never abandoned Oslo. Instead it accepted the ‘Peace Process’ and the legitimacy of the PA. With the recent murder of Nizar Banat by the thugs of the PA PSC has been forced to criticise the actions of the PA for the first time. But it has never questioned its legitimacy.

Even now their statement merely demands that ‘the PA should be severing all security cooperation with the occupying state.’  It says that  ‘PSC has raised these issues in the past with the PA and is doing so again in relation to the death of Nizar.’ It is as if the French Resistance had written a letter to Marshall Petain asking Vichy France to join the ranks of the Resistance!

Nowhere in its statement does PSC demand that the PA disbands itself or even that its armed thugs be disarmed. Instead it treats the PA as a legitimate institution rather than the bastard fruit of Oslo.

Contrast this with Joseph Massad’s Why the PA’s days are numbered which describes the PA as ‘a collaborating body’ with the Israeli apartheid regime under US sponsorship.’ Massad describes how

‘The PA police arrangement in fact replicated, and was perhaps inspired by, the South African apartheid state’s use of the Black police to suppress Black resistance before 1994, an arrangement that reduced the danger to the lives of white policemen.

If you compare Massad’s incisive analysis to PSC’s statement it is clear that PSC has no analysis. PSC is not only politically but intellectually bankrupt. It treats what is happening in Palestine as a human rights not a political question. PSC fails to understand that the PA is an adjunct to Israel’s occupation. It is its military subcontractor.

In 2014 I proposed a motion which said:

PSC should sever all relations with the Palestinian Authority, which is a quisling government, whose role is to police the Palestinians on behalf of Israel.

Betty Hunter, the General Secretary and now President of PSC, blew a gasket at my describing the PA as a ‘quisling’ organisation. In her view and PSC’s, the PA was a legitimate representative body of the Palestinians.

Compare this with what Ali Abunimah, the editor of Electronic Intifada,wrote in the wake of Abbas’s withdrawal of support from the Goldstone Report following Operation Cast Lead:

Naming collaboration — even treason — for what it is has always been a painful taboo among Palestinians, as for all occupied peoples. It took the French decades after World War II to begin to speak openly about the extent of collaboration that took place with the Nazi-backed Vichy government.

Tommy Robinson is welcomed onto the pro-Israel demonstration

PSC – An Ideas Free Zone –

The internal publications of PSC are an ideas free zone. They do nothing to educate or raise people’s consciousness. Palestine solidarity for PSC is a human rights issue not a political issue. It campaigns on human rights abuses but never connects them. There is no explanatory narrative.

The word ‘Zionism’ never crosses the lips of the PSC leadership and its Director Ben Jamal or Chair Kamal Hawwash. The obvious conclusion is that Israel is a legitimate state which can be reformed.

This has major implications for the solidarity movement. Israel can withstand criticism of its human rights record (using ‘security’ as its excuse) but it reacts wildly to those who question its legitimacy.

In 2010 in response to BDS, the Reut Institute produced a Report Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy. In the section London as a Case Study it explained that:

‘The assault is increasingly perceived to be a strategic concern for Israel, with potentially existential implications. This understanding underlies the recent mobilization by the Government of Israel (GOI) to offer a systemic response to this challenge.

What the Zionist movement and the Israeli state fear most of all is the questioning of the very concept of a Jewish state. To them this is an ‘existential’ problem. PSC simply ignored this document. And because there is no forum within PSC to debate or discuss such issues, the organisation continued to blunder along blindly.

The Zionist response to questioning ‘Israel’s right to exist’ as a racist state was to launch the campaign to paint Israel’s opponents as ‘anti-Semitic’. It didn’t begin with Jeremy Corbyn but his accession to the leadership of the Labour Party lent a new urgency to the Zionists campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn himself is an example of the poverty of PSC’s politics. He was extremely close to PSC’s leadership. He attended every AGM for a decade or so. He was PSC’s human rights ambassador but he simply mouthed 2 state platitudes. PSC never provided him with any explanation of Zionism.

I knew Jeremy well in the early 1980s when I was Chair of the Labour Movement Campaign on Palestine. He was a sponsor. Our motion to the Labour Party conference in 1982 supporting a Democratic Secular State in Palestine passed. Jeremy chaired the Labour Movement Conference on Palestine which called for the disaffiliation of Poale Zion (JLM).

Emily Thornberry attacking anti-Zionists at Zionist beanfeast

When the right-wing in Labour under Kinnock and Blair took over the LMCP disappeared. PSC took Corbyn under its wing and he began spouting 2 States nonsense. Jeremy too treated Palestine as simply a human rights question. Hence when he took part in the JLM leadership debate with Owen Smith he praised the independence of Israel’s judiciary! The very judges that have legalised the theft of Palestinian land since 1948. PSC depoliticised a young and enthusiastic MP because it had no anti-Zionist politics.

Thornberry at LFI

PSC engages in routinism. It is happy for people to stand on street corners handing out leaflets and lobbying MPs. All very worthwhile as we have to win public support but it is not enough.

We have to transform support on the streets into political support and on this PSC has hopelessly failed. In fact PSC hasn’t even tried.

PSC has a ‘strategy’ of mainstreaming Palestine which has led it to putting Emily Thornberry, a patron of Labour Friends of Israel, on its platforms. Thornberry is a vitriolic Zionist who declared that those who deny Israel’s right to exist as a racist state should be expelled. In a groveling address at Labour Friends of Israel annual dinner’ in November 2017, Thornberry declared that

‘even today… modern Israel stands out as a beacon of freedom, equality and democracy, particularly in respect of women and LGBT communities.’

That must seem like a sick joke to those who are being evicted in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrar today as part of the Master Plan to increase Jerusalem’s Jewish majority. Or those who are confronting pogromists in Bat Yam. Thornberry is an open racist. Yet PSC put both her and Lisa Nandy, a self-declared Zionist on its platforms.

Trade unions and Two States

PSC says that it doesn’t support any solution – 2 States or 1 State. Its excuse being that it’s up to Palestinians to decide what they want. This is a problem because when people ask what we want to see in Palestine PSC has nothing to say. PSC has no vision to offer whereas the AAM had no hesitation in declaring that it wanted a unitary South Africa.

It is also disingenuous since Palestinians today have no representative organisations. The PA, which PSC supports, believes in 2 states. Indeed it believes it has already achieved a Palestinian state!

Yet all surveys of Palestinians show that today a very clear majority – 66% in the West Bank and 56% in Gaza support a unitary state compared to 14% in the West Bank and 31% in the West Bank supporting a 2 state solution. But even if Palestinians still supported a two state solution a solidarity movement should reject it. The reason why some Palestinians support 2 states still is because they are desperate for anything that relieves their plight.

A two state solution is an apartheid solution which leaves Israel in place as a Jewish Supremacist state. We speak to British supporters of the Palestinians not the Palestinians. Our job is to persuade people here that Israel is illegitimate. Our end goal must be a state where all people live together not a continuation of apartheid by other means.

But PSC leadership are dishonest. They are not concerned about Palestinian opinion. Some 53% of Palestinians now support Hamas compared to 14% for Abbas and Fateh. The real reason why PSC clings to a 2 state solution is that the affiliation of trade unions to PSC has been obtained at a political price. That price is not adopting a position which opposes Israel’s right to exist as a ‘Jewish’ ie racist state. The trade unions support 2 states. So does LFI and the JLM because they know it won’t happen!

The trade union leaders support 2 states because they want to support both sides of the ‘conflict’. It’s as if, 30 years ago, they had supported the White Nationalists and the Black liberation movements. In situations of colonisation you can’t support both sides and supporting 2 states is exactly that.

PSC or rather Socialist Action, is happy to cuddle up to trade union leaders and accept their money in return for silence. It is a faustian bargain, a deal without principle or any semblance of morality.

An article in Oxford Student in response to the attempt to ban Ken Loach from speaking at St Peter’s college

The IHRA

The IHRA was drawn up at the initiative of Dina Porat of the Stephen Roth Institute at Tel Aviv University in 2004. Kenneth Stern, its principal drafter, described at a conference in 2010 in Paris ‘The Working Definition of Anti-Semitism [WDA] and Six Years After’ its genesis in an article ‘The Working Definition – a Reappraisal’. As Stern makes clear the intention all along was to redefine hostility to Zionism as anti-Semitism. What Stern didn’t support was using it to brand individuals as anti-Semites, especially on campus and chill free speech. Whether Stern was naive or duped is an open question.

The IHRA has been the main instrument by which anti-Semitism has been weaponised. It has been the sword of defamation and has been responsible for numerous anti-racists and anti-Zionists being traduced as racists. It is an example of racists accusing anti-racists of racism in an Orwellian world where words have lost all meaning.

PSC has dropped any campaign against the IHRA. It is difficult to understand what exactly PSC has done apart from funding a legal opinon from Hugh Tomlinson QC and writing a round robin letter to local authorities. Perhaps the one initiative they did take up was when the Big Ride was banned from meeting in a park in Tower Hamlets by their Blairite Mayor. That was a brief respite from doing nothing.

However PSC has not taken up the IHRA on campus. At the end of last year Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, threatened that Universities who refused to adopt the IHRA would have their funding cut. PSC has been completely inactive over this. It isn’t a priority.

The IHRA has been used to attack anti-Zionist academics at a host of universities including Bristol, Sussex, Leeds, Warwick. There are more. At Warwick at least 4 staff have been targeted by the  Union of Jewish Students as ‘anti-Semites’. The University adopted the IHRA in October of last year. The attack on the staff prompted the Warwick Assembly, which over 200 staff attended, to reject the IHRA by over 93%. As a result the adoption of the IHRA has been suspended.

The most egregious case of a witchhunt is at Bristol University. Four years ago the misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism targeted a Jewish lecturer, Rachel Gould over an article she had written. They called for her dismissal. Tory Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles called her a holocaust denier. The attack on her was described by Kenneth Stern in testimony to Congress as ‘egregious’ chilling and McCarthy-like.’

On 13 February David Miller, a Professor at Bristol University, called for an end to Zionism and described how Zionist organisations were using Jewish students as pawns. Immediately the the Zionists demanded that Miller be dismissed. Two weeks later 100 MPs and Lords, including Caroline Lucas MP, wrote an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of Bristol University demanding that Miller be removed.

Caroline Lucas’s Tory friends on the Education Select Committee then demanded that Miller be sacked. These McCarthyists called Bristol University a “hotbed of antisemitism” and fostering a climate similar to “1930s Nazi Germany”. If anyone else made comparisons with Nazi Germany they would be called anti-Semites! Jonathan Gullis MP went further attacking Goldie Osuri at Warwick University. ‘“We need to start sacking people’ Gullis said.

I wrote to Ben Jamal demanding that they issue a statement supporting David Miller. Well they issued a statement Protecting Palestinian Rights and Academic Freedom but they offered not a word of support or solidarity. Instead PSC accused David Miller of failing

‘to apply depth, context, and clarity, and to avoid narratives that oversimplify the interlinks between groups which oppose actions in support of Palestinian rights, and Israeli state actors…. it can risk drawing on anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish power.’

They didn’t even have the courage to make these criticisms directly. Instead the following weasel words appeared:

Whilst some have criticised Professor Miller for lacking such depth and clarity in the way he has couched his remarks…’

The push by the Tories for the adoption of the IHRA has gone hand in hand with a campaign by various Zionist organisations – the Board of Deputies, UJS and the CST to target anti-Zionist academics.

Compare PSC’s response to the forthright statement of BRICUP:

BRICUP is not qualified to comment on Professor’s Miller’s scholarly work but affirms the responsibility of all academics, irrespective of discipline or political view, to defend his right to teach and research without the threat of external intervention.

PSC has forgotten what the word solidarity means.

Trade unions

In 2010 PSC refused to support a resolution to boycott Histadrut, Israel’s Apartheid Union. From its inception in 1920 Histadrut supported a policy of Jewish Labour i.e. a boycott of Arab labour. It took 39 years to admit its first Arab member. Even then Arabs were put into a separate section. Histadrut was, with the JNF, one of the main organisations of Zionist colonisation.

Whilst UNISON voted to boycott Histadrut, PSC and its trade union officer Bernard Regan opposed boycotting it.

PSC, far from encouraging unions to take the boycott of Israel seriously is happy to confine boycott to settlement goods only, which is a nonsense since they are marketed as the produce of Israel.

PSC has refused to raise the IHRA in the unions. When I leafleted delegates at PSC’s trade union conference, I was told to leave by Ben Jamal. PSC refused to include the IHRA on the agenda. If PSC had campaigned for the unions to oppose the IHRA then Labour would not have adopted it. The witchhunt of Palestinian supporters in Labour would have been halted in its tracks.

I wrote on behalf of my union branch to Len McLuskey asking that Unite’s Executive stop supporting the IHRA. On 16 May 2021 McLuskey wrote back indignantly stating that:

‘In the meantime Unite will continue to support PSC and I dismiss out offhand your suggestion that we are betraying PSC.’

The strange thing is that I had not mentioned PSC. What had triggered this response? Clearly McLuskey believed that PSC supported the IHRA. This is understandable because PSC had refused to campaign in the unions against the IHRA.

The Labour Party, PSC and the False Anti-Semitism Campaign

Throughout his leadership Corbyn and the Labour left was accused of anti-Semitism. The purpose of the campaign was to brand anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians as anti-Semitic.

Yet as activists were being picked off PSC kept silent. It never defended Corbyn from allegations of anti-Semitism. It issued no leaflets explaining why anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. I wrote to Secretary Ben Soffa on 11 April 2016 asking why the silence. Ben responded on 20 April in what was a master class in complacency. He wrote that ‘I make no apology for the fact that we do not engage in every debate some would wish to involve us in.’

As activists were being picked off for any mention of Israeli Apartheid many others were intimidated into silence. The campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party spread into virtually every area of society. PSC still seems unable to come out and say that the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign had nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

PSC has nothing to say about Zionism since it is afraid of being accused of anti-Semitism. It has never mentioned the links between the Zionist movement and the far Right, people like Viktor Orban, the anti-Semitic Hungarian Prime Minister and friend of Israel or the support of Germany’s neo-Nazi party AfD or even Tommy Robinson’s recent appearance on a pro-Israel demonstration. PSC is unable to go on the offensive against the Zionist lobby. It resembles David Low’s depiction of the TUC as a slow-witted carthorse.

PSC is an ideas free zone – a political vacuum

The campaign against Israel is different in one crucial respect from that against Apartheid in South Africa. Whereas the latter had no domestic support base apart from the capitalists, right-wing Tories and fascists, the Israeli state has a lobby that is strong and powerful.

Israel has support in the Jewish community. The last survey by Yachad of British Jews in 2015 found that 59% identify as Zionists. However 31% said that they weren’t Zionists. This was down 13% on a similar survey 5 years previously.

Despite the attempt to label BDS as anti-Semitic 24% of British Jews support some form of sanctions on Israel. Among secular Jews this rises to 40% and among the under 30s it is 41%. Compare this with the Board of Deputies which purports to speak for British Jews, which never criticises Israel. Zionist organisations have hijacked the  voice of British Jews. British Jews are in the words of Barnaby Raine the Establishment’s ‘favourite pets: heroic colonists in the Middle East and successful citizens in the West.’

British Jews are, as David Miller asserted, treated as pawns by Zionist organisations. They fulfil the same role in support of Israel as Algerian Jews did under French colonialism. What is surprising is not that there is anti-Semitism as a result of the identification of British Jews with Israel but that there is so little anti-Semitism.

PSC could, if it had any internal democracy or discussion forums, take advantage of these divisions amongst British Jews to challenge British Zionist organisations. But since there is no discussion of strategy in PSC there was no discussion about how to combat the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign except maybe inside Socialist Action or the Communist League.

There is a great deal of debate about Palestine in Britain yet within PSC there is no attempt to debate strategic issues such as how how to advance BDS. There is no internal discussion bulletin or forum to debate how to combat the pro-Apartheid lobby.

Discussion about strategy or tactics is left either to individual branches or ad hoc groups like Palestine Action. There was a strategic review some years ago by Ben Jamal but it was top down. When it comes to internal debate PSC is an arid desert.

Palestine Action and direct action

In 2020 a staff member of PSC and former student activist, Huda Ammori, was forced to resign. She alleged bullying by the Director Ben Jamal that forced her to go sick with depression. When she submitted a grievance letter she was pressurised by PSC Chair Kamel Hawwash into withdrawing her complaint.

In the wake of Huda being forced out 4 members of PSC Executive resigned. Quite amazingly at its 2021 Conference there was no mention of the resignations in the Annual Report, presumably on the basis that if it didn’t get mentioned it didn’t happen!

Huda and others then formed Apartheid on Campus which PSC did its best to destroy despite doing nothing on campus itself. The failure of PSC to make any impact amongst students is itself a disgrace.

PSC and Palestine Action

Palestine Action was formed late last year with a focus to campaign against companies complicit in Israel’s colonisation of Palestine, Elbit Systems in particular. Elbit has some 10 factories in Britain. You will have seen news of many of its actions. The state has spent enormous resources trying to criminalise its activists.

Having done little itself you might imagine that PSC would welcome a group campaigning against Elbit. Wrong. In February PSC circulated a bogus piece of legal advice to branches warning against supporting PA. It warned that those who supported it financially could be prosecuted. This was nothing more than scare mongering. The real reason for PSC’s hostility was its opposition to direct action and confronting the British state. In addition to its fear of competitors.

PSC contacted the Boycott National Committee and got them to warn PA not to use the term BDS!! Despite PA receiving massive support PSC has not let up in its hostility. When Brighton and Hove PSC wanted to move an emergency motion at PSC AGM supporting PA Socialist Action’s Louise Regan ruled the motion out of order. Regan, PSC’s Vice-Chair, told the AGM that people had a choice – they could support PSC or Palestine Action. They could not do both.

PSC should have welcomed Palestine Action. They weren’t obliged to fund them but there was absolutely no reason to try and destroy them. PSC objected to the minor criminal damage that PA caused to Elbit’s factories like breaking windows or painting its buildings red!

wrote to Omar Barghouti of the BNC in March this year suggesting that Palestinians in Gaza were unlikely to protest at PA damaging Elbit Factories given the reign of terror they face from its drones.

If PSC prioritised Palestine solidarity rather than empire building they would have offered legal help to PA. They could have publicised PA actions and begun a campaign themselves against Elbit, which boasts that it is the backbone of Israel’s military. They could have supported the pickets of courts where defendants, myself included, have been arraigned to face trial. Instead it has done nothing.

During the recent attack on Gaza PA activists occupied the roof of the Elbit factory in Leicester. The occupation received massive publicity both nationally and internationally from the BBCThe IndependentAl JazeeraJewish NewsNovara Media and Electronic Intifada to name but a few. When the Police arrested those involved hundreds of local people surrounded the police vans to prevent them being taken away. The Fire Brigades Union refused to aid the police attempts to bring down the occupiers. When have PSC ever gained the support of workers on the ground for an activity?

The occupation of Elbit, like the refusal of dockers in Italy, South Africa and California, to unload ships belonging to Zim, was a concrete act of support for the people of Gaza. What was PSC’s reaction? Nothing except embarrassed silence. Not one word emanated from PSC nationally. The only emails I got during the Gaza attacks from PSC were appeals for money.  The attack on Gaza was its opportunity. Solidarity there was none.

Why then the hostility to PA? There was similar hostility to InMinds. PSC wants to preserve Palestine as its monopoly. It therefore resents other groups trespassing on what it considers its territory. This is a product of the political sectarianism of those who control PSC.

Mainstreaming Palestine

But it’s more than this. PSC’s whole strategy is what it calls ‘mainstreaming’ Palestine. In other words winning over the British Establishment. PSC doesn’t understand why the British government supports Zionism and Israel. The reasons, as anyone who has any awareness of the linkup between British and Israeli political and military echelons knows is because of shared interests between British imperialism and Israel. Israel is the West’s strategic watchdog in the Middle East. It conducts joint exercises with NATO. That is what lies behind the support of the most reactionary sections of the Tory Party, Eric Pickles et al – for Israel. It certainly isn’t love of Jews.

Direct action that involves spraying blood red paint on a factory goes against PSC’s ‘strategy’ of winning over the Establishment. PSC have difficulty understanding that British imperialism has no principled objection to Israel’s human rights abuses. The British Army hardly had a spotless record in Iraq, Afghanistan or Ireland. Human rights abuses and imperialism go together.

PSC’s mainstreaming ‘strategy’ has been a disaster. Apart from Corbyn it has no MPs as sponsors. It got rid of Baroness Tonge sometime ago. It has not  even tried to persuade MPs to form a BDS lobby. It lacks support from the Establishment yet it attacks direct action.

Since May there have been two huge demonstrations in support of the Palestinians, the last one 200,000 strong. They were called by 6 organisations including CND, Al Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain. MAB in particular mobilised huge numbers. It is doubtful, given its previous record, that PSC would have mobilised even a tenth of these numbers by itself.

What it does prove is that the cause of Palestine has massive potential. If PSC were a genuine solidarity organisation then membership would be 20,000 not around 5-6,000. It would be a movement at the forefront of direct action, linking up with groups like BLM, Xtinction Rebellion and the recent Campaign Against the Police Bill.

What PSC does have is a number of active branches nationally. It would have even more if there was an effective branch development policy. The list of branches on its website is hopelessly out of date.

Branches receive little support from the national office. When Brighton and Hove PSC waged a 2 year long campaign against Sodastream in Brighton, which successfully closed the shop down, we received no support from PSC nationally. The same was true of the successful campaign against Ahava in Covent Garden. PSC nationally mobilised nobody. Direct action simply does not fit into PSC’s plans.

The question is whether sufficient branches will be the kernel of a new and healthier Palestine solidarity movement which can build on the enormous support for the Palestinians today. A group which isn’t controlled by tiny sects, leftovers of the International Marxist Group, who believe that China is a socialist utopia. The question for activists is how to go about building such a movement.

Tony Greenstein

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Steve O’Neal

    As Secretary of the Wilts PSC, l was nonplussed when I was advised at a branch meeting that we weren’t allowed to mention the word Zionism. I thought that it was like not mentioning “fascism” during World War II.

    Reply
    • Tony Greenstein

      I’d be interested to know who told you this. It is utter cowardice. PSC should be in the forefront of explaining the differences between Zionism and anti-Semitism not retreating on the ideological front.

      Bennett and Netanyahu did everything in the name of Zionism. The evictions and demolitions in Jerusalem are in its name. This is utter cowardice

      Reply

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