I Have Resigned From Palestine Solidarity Campaign Because It No Longer Opposes Zionism, the Founding Ideology and Movement that created the Israeli State

I Have Resigned From Palestine Solidarity Campaign Because It No Longer Opposes Zionism, the Founding Ideology and Movement that created the Israeli State

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Have Resigned From Palestine Solidarity Campaign Because It No Longer Opposes Zionism, the Founding Ideology and Movement that created the Israeli State

In Railroading a Constitution Through Its AGM in Less Than an Hour, PSC’s Ruling Clique Demonstrated Their Contempt for the Membership 

The angry, scowling face of PSC Chair Kamal Hawwash, who was determined to brush aside all opposition


In my letter of resignation I outline the reasons why Palestine Solidarity Campaign is today an obstacle to Palestine solidarity work.

Instead of educating activists as to the nature of Zionism and the Zionist movement, PSC has abandoned all opposition to Zionism. PSC is depoliticising activists in the face of constant Zionist attacks. It also reduces the question of Palestine to a human rights issue.

Of course the oppression of the Palestinians involves grave human rights abuses but if Palestine is simply a human rights issue then it is only one of many such examples. Who can doubt that the treatment of the Rohinga in Myanamar at the hands of the Burmese army, which is engaged in actual genocide, is worse than that of the Palestinians?

Zionism has systematically exploited the Holocaust through its blanket attack on all opposition to its settler colonial project as ‘anti-Semitism’. Yet instead of pointing out that Zionism represents an acceptance of anti-Semitism’s belief that Jews are aliens in the countries where they live, PSC prefers to jettison anti-Zionism.

Just 200 people participated in the Zoom session and as the day wore on it was down to less than 150

What makes Palestine different is that Israel is the only apartheid state on the planet and the only active settler colonial state in existence. Defenders of White Supremacy in South Africa were fond of pointing to human rights abuses in neighbouring countries and contrasting those states with itself.

The response of anti-imperialists was that South Africa’s regime of racial supremacy was unique. The same is true of Israeli Apartheid. Just as the South African state supported the repressive Black states surrounding it, Israel also acts as a guarantor against revolution in its neighbours. That is what the Abraham Accords are about.

PSC avoids such ‘difficult’ questions as it panders to the lowest common denominator politically. A cursory look at PSC literature would have you believe that Israel is alone in the Middle East. There is barely a mention of Israel’s strategic role in the region.

The Zionists have deliberately conflated the terms ‘Jew’ and ‘Zionist’. Support for the Palestinians has become ‘anti-Semitism’. PSC’s response has been to abandon opposition to Zionism. A search of its Annual Plan contains no mention of the word ‘Zionism’.

Those opposed to the resolution needed to obtain 25% of the vote. In the end we obtained 24.16% – just 113 people, 1.5% of PSC’s total membership, voted for the new constitution

PSC AGM and the New Constitution

All of this came to a head at PSC’s recent AGM on March 19th where any debate about a new proposed constitution was rendered impossible. One of the drawbacks of Zoom is that it enables those who set up the meeting to tightly control the proceedings and through the use of the webinar facility to atomise those taking part.

The Chat facility, which enables participants to discuss issues with each other, was disabled. The control freaks in PSC’s ruling clique, most notably its Director Ben Jamal, were determined that members who attended the AGM were not able to have any horizontal contact or communications with each other.  This is no different to the behaviour of Starmer’s apparatchiks in the Labour Party.

The Executive proposed an entirely new Constitution. Its reason was that the existing constitution had become misaligned with the Articles of Association of PSC Ltd. No proof that this was a problem was ever produced. Since 2004 PSC has been both a limited company and a campaigning organisation, which legally was an unincorporated association.

Members were lied to.  They were told that they had to approve a new constitution, unamended, because it was a Special Resolution under the 2006 Companies Act which requires 15 days of any amendment to the Articles of Association (a company’s constitution).

However there was absolutely no reason why an Extraordinary General Meeting could not have been called in 4 or 6 weeks time and amendments submitted within that time frame. Debate however was the last thing that PSC’s ruling clique wanted.

Leadership loyalist Diane Langford speaking in the constitution debate

PSC’s New Constitution Represents A Shift of Power From the Membership to PSC’s Ruling Clique

Below are a few examples of the mindset behind the proposals.

Section 4 of the old constitution was headed ‘Membership’. The new constitution has a much enlarged and prescriptive Part III ‘Membership.’ Section 6 not only requires that you agree with PSC’s Aims and Objectives but that you ‘uphold the Values of the campaign’. There is a new section 5, ‘Values’ which is as vacuous as anything New Labour produced.  PSC’e Values are a substitute for having Principles. These values include defining ‘anti-Semitism’ as a form of racism as opposed to prejudice in the former constitution.

Clause 4.6 of the 2015 Constitution specified that someone expelled from the organisation had the right of appeal to the following AGM. No such provision now exists.  Such a person merely has the right under s.10.4 to appeal ‘in line with the Appeal Process referred to in the relevant Regulation.’ Except there are no regulations and if and when they are drawn up they do not need to be approved by the membership.

Dave Chappell of Exeter PSC speaking in the debate

Under s.9.1 members must ‘support and promote the Aims, Objectives and Values of the PSC’. Given that the values are subjective this hands absolute power to the Executive Officers. There was no such stipulation in the previous constitution and no explanation as to why this is needed now.

Members must now also (s.9.2) ‘abide by the Code of Conduct and Constitution’. The Executive drew up a Code of Conduct which was a mere 25 times as long as the previous code of conduct of 98 words. It is effectively a charter for a future witchhunt. It does not need to be approved by anyone other than the Executive. Again there was no such stipulation in the previous constitution nor has there been any explanation as to why such a provision needs to be introduced now.

Clause 5.3 of the old Constitution stipulated that ‘All branches should adopt a constitution, which must contain…’ and it listed 5 non-controversial requirements such as a requirement for officers to be members of PSC nationally and to hold an AGM.

The new s.13.6. stipulates that ‘All branches shall have a constitution, approved by the Executive Committee.’ The original idea was to go further and divide members of PSC branches into two. Those who are members of national PSC and those who weren’t. The latter would have been unable to vote in elections for local officers. It was withdrawn after an outcry but it betrays the mentality of those who drew up this constitution.

What is the reason for local constitutions to be approved by national PSC?  None was given. The new 13.7.2. says that ‘all branch members shall abide by the PSC’s Aims, Objectives, Values and Code of Conduct.’ This is entirely new and hands powers to a future Executive to conduct a political witchhunt.

It is not just the wording of the new constitution but the mentality behind it. There is a new section 7 ‘Rights of Members’ but apart from the right to attend the national AGM and Branch Forum, which already existed there are no additional rights.

The new section 9 ‘Responsibilities of members’ lays out that Members ‘must’ support and promote the Aims Objectives and Values of PSC. Note the word ‘must’.

But when it comes to the Executive then the language changes. Section 18.1 says that ‘The Executive Committee shall be accountable to the membership for various tasks.’  The word ‘must’ is replaced by ‘shall’. It is in this authoritarian spirit that the whole of this verbose constitution was drawn up.

Rob Ferguson of the SWP giving loyal support to PSC’s ruling clique as they remove opposition to Zionism from the Constitution

You might expect members of the Socialist Workers Party, who are nominally anti-Zionist, to have opposed this constitution, especially its proposal to remove opposition to Zionism.  Not a bit of it.  Tom Hickey and Rob Ferguson gave fulsome support to the Executive’s proposed Constitution on the grounds that we should not bother discussion constitutions. We should all just get on with campaigning!

According to the SWP we don’t need to think about things like the political aims and goals of PSC, still less its internal democracy. Given that there is no internal democracy in the SWP, the result of which was the rape crisis scandal in 2013, they couldn’t see the need for anyone else to take democracy seriously.

As Hickey and Ferguson were speaking, their Scottish comrades in Stand Up to Racism were busy welcoming Glasgow Friends of Israel and the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland onto their annual ‘anti-racism’ march complete with the Israeli flag. This meant that Muslim organisations were unable to participate in the march. This was of no concern to them. Fearful of being accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ the SWP allowed the Zionists to march with them. This was abject political cowardice and opportunism.

Louise Regan, Chair of the afternoon session and Iyas AlQasem, who chaired the committee that drew up the new constitution

The Quisling Palestinian Authority and Murder of Nizar Banat

PSC’s ruling clique also opposed a motion condemning the Quisling Palestine Authority which had murdered Palestinian resistance fighter Nizar Banat. His family personally contacted me to offer their support for the motion and sent a message, which I read out. PSC Executive were not prepared to condemn the PA, which is Israel’s military subcontractor in the West Bank.

When Donald Trump cut all funding to the Palestinians, including the PA, he made an exception as regards funding the Palestinian security forces at Israel’s special request.

The PA’s security forces work closely with the Israeli military and its secret police Shin Bet. They arrest and interrogate (i.e. torture) Palestinians when supplied with names by Shin Bet before handing the prisoners over to the Israelis. This however cut no ice with Ben Jamal, Kamal Hawwash or PSC Executive.

PSC Refuse to Say Anything About the Two State Solution

Today the main supporters of the two state solution are Zionist groups like Labour Friends of Israel. They support it because they know it will never happen but it’s a useful smokescreen and alibi for continued settlement. Unsurprisingly my motion opposing the two state solution was met with the Executive’s opposition.

The Palestine Action motion, which had been gutted by the Executive’s amendment, was still opposed by a hardcore of 21 members who oppose any form of direct action, with 19 unable to decide  what they think.

Palestine Action

The best thing that has happened to the Palestine solidarity movement in Britain in the past 5 years was the creation of Palestine Action.  Through the use of direct action and community campaigns in like Oldham and Leicester Elbit actually closed their factory in Oldham because they could no longer protect it.

None of this stopped Ben Jamal waging an 18 months war of attrition against PA including the dissemination of bogus legal advice to PSC branches warning them off contributing to their funds.  He also made allegations of anti-Semitism. The details are in this paper.

Robyn Dasey of Brixton PSC speaking

PSC’s repeated boasts that it is building a mass movement that will mainstream Palestine is just that. A boast. ‘Mainstreaming’ is jargon for persuading the British Establishment to cut its ties with Israel.

The main achievement of PSC to date is to build itself into another NGO whose priority is maintaining itself. Its support for its own activists is secondary. When BDS first took off in Britain PSC opposed it. PSC today is a politically timid organisation bent on appeasing the British Establishment. That is why it has put on its platforms Zionists like Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.

What is worse is that PSC is controlled politically by a secretive ex-Trotskyist organisationSocialist Action which believes that China is a socialist society. It is Socialist Action’s iron grip on PSC’s leadership which is responsible for PSC failing to develop politically.

As someone who helped found PSC in 1982 I don’t take the step of resigning lightly but as long as PSC is tightly controlled by a few individuals it will never build the mass movement that it talks about.

PSC’s lack of any anti-imperialist or anti-Zionist politics means that it is helpless when faced with a concerted Zionist campaign such as that over ‘anti-Semitism’. 

In 1993 I resigned from PSC when it supported the Oslo Accords, rejoining in 2005. As I predicted at the time, the Oslo Accords, of which the Palestinian Authority is the bastard fruit, represented the greatest setback to the Palestinian struggle since the Nakba. I will continue to be a member of my local Brighton and Hove PSC.

Tony Greenstein

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Gearóid Ó Loingsigh

    Part of a decline of the left. Very disappointing as Palestine is one of those clear cut issues and given the past history of accommodation with Zionism and where it led to with the Oslo Accords, you would expect the SWP to know this. But then they have a lets get out and do something style in everything and lets not think too deeply. The desire to recruit to themselves is always more important. Hopefully, other Palestinian solidarity organisations will continue the fight.

    Reply
  2. John Britton Wilkins

    Heartfelt and passionate.

    Reply

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