Tony Greenstein | 06 August 2015 | Post Views:

Tom Watson MP – Candidate for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party; Supporter of Israeli Apartheid

Tom Watson – right-wing candidate for Labour Deputy leader

Many people will heard of Tom Watson MP, one of the
candidates for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, from his work campaigning
against child abuse, Murdoch etc.  However
there is a darker side to Tom Watson. 
Contrary to popular belief he is firmly on the far-right of the Labour
Party.  He was Political Advisor to the
last General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of EngineeringWorkers, Sir Ken
Jackson.  Those with long memories will
remember that Sir Ken stood for General Secretary in 2002 and was defeated by a
Broad Left candidate, Derek Simpson.  Jackson
did everything he could to avoid accepting the verdict of the AUEW electorate
for what was the first election for a new union, Amicus.  As his Wiki entry says:

David Ben-Gurion – Histadrut’s First Secretary-General – As Israel’s Prime Minister he was a devoted supporter of the Expulsion of the Arabs of Palestine

‘Throughout his career, Ken Jackson was on the
far-right of the union movement. He was a vice-president of the Trade
Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding
(TUCETU) – an
organisation with close links to NATO and the CIA. He became a close associate of Tony Blair
– in fact, he is often described as “Tony Blair’s favourite trade
unionist” – and received a knighthood in 1999, an unusual honour for a
trade union leader…. He found himself at odds with his counterparts in the
movement due to his support of issues such as private-public partnerships and
US aggression.’  

Buy Local Goods – i.e.  Boycott Arab Goods (this was a time when Zionists were fully in support of Boycotts)
Watson could not have been his political advisor if
they hadn’t shared the same politics and agenda.  He later became a supporter of
Gordon Brown and he is thoroughly New Labour. 
He is also Vice President of the Trade Union Friends of Israel.  In 2012 he wrote the article below in support
of ‘the new Histadrut’.  The ‘new
Histadrut’ is in fact very much like the old Histadrut except that it has been
shorn of its vast conglomerate of industries and enterprises.  Yes that’s right, the old Histadrut was the
second largest employer in Israel after the State itself and as such was no
union.  It was a corporatist body.
Histadrut picture – In the style of Stalinist art
That is why its Secretary General, the former Defence Minister Pinhas Lavon could say of it in 1960 that Histadrut was ‘“a general organization to its core. It is not a
trade union.’ 
Histadrut poster in the 1930’s – urging boycott of Arab melons
However in the late 1980’s its enterprises began to
go bankrupt and in 1985 the Stabilisation Pact in Israel forced it to sell off
its companies, relinquish its health care system (Kupat Holim) and basically
confine itself to representing its members.
Even so Histadrut was a unique institution.  You join the federation first and then you
are allocated to a department or union. 
It’s like joining the TUC and then being placed in UNISON. 
TUFI – an Organisation of pro-imperialist trade unionists
But Histadrut was, from its very beginning in 1920,
a racist body.  It campaigned for Jewish
Labour (Avodat
) and Jewish produce (Totzeret
), i.e. a Boycott of Arab Labour and Produce.  It sought to divide Arab from Jewish workers
and set up a tame Arab section, the Palestine Labour League.  David HaCohen, former
managing director of Histadrut’s building company, Solel Boneh, described what
this meant:
Histadrut logo – Zionist to the core

“I had to fight my friends on the issue of Jewish socialism to defend the
fact that I would not accept Arabs in my trade union, the Histadrut; to defend
preaching to housewives that they should not buy at Arab stores; to defend the
fact that we stood guard at orchards to prevent Arab workers from getting jobs
there … to pour kerosene on Arab tomatoes; to attack Jewish housewives in the
markets and smash Arab eggs they had bought … to buy dozens of dunums
[of land] from an Arab is permitted but to sell God forbid one Jewish dunum
to an Arab is prohibited; to take Rothschild the incarnation of capitalism as a
socialist and to name him the ‘benefactor’ — to do all that was not easy.”

The New Histadrut – much like the old one but a bit leaner
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister was
also became the first Secretary General of Histadrut in 1921.  He followed a rigorous policy of Jewish
labour mounting pickets of employers who continued to employ Arabs.  Arabs were being driven out of the labour
market as a prelude to being drive out of their land.  As Ben-Gurion noted of employers who
continued to employ Arabs:  it is for this petty profit, not a twentieth of net income, that he
would foist on the colonies the evil of
mixed labour
, which can only provoke trouble on national and social fronts
(my emphasis) [Rebirth & Destiny pp. 73-4]

The article below is a typical propaganda
piece.  Histadrut has refused membership
to Palestinian workers in the West Bank whilst taking, courtesy of the military
occupation which has never opposed, 1% of their wages even though it offered
nothing back in return.  After extreme
pressure, what Watson calls ‘a
groundbreaking agreement in 2008’
it returned a small fraction of what it
had stolen.

Unsurprisingly the main concern of Watson’s ‘review’
of Alan Johnson’s propaganda  pamphlet
was opposition to the Boycott of Israel. 
Like propagandists for South African apartheid, Watson argues that it
set back the cause of peace’ whereas what has set back the cause of peace is
the theft of Palestinian land, settlements, settler violence etc.
Tom Watson MP – candidate for Deputy Leader

The New Histadrut: Peace, Social Justice and the
Israeli Trade Unions

At a time when those opposed to a two-state
solution are calling to break the relationship between British and Israeli
trade unions, BICOM Senior Research Fellow Professor Alan Johnson has written
an important new pamphlet,
published by the Trade Union Friends of Israel, which provides a unique insight
into the history and activities of the Histadrut. The pamphlet details
the Histadrut’s progressive aims and values and its cooperation with the
Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). Professor Johnson lays
out the origins of the Jewish labour organisation, their role in the foundation
of the State of Israel, the subsequent creation of an Arab workers section, and
the groundbreaking agreement in 2008 between the Histadrut and the PGFTU. The
pamphlet highlights the Histadrut’s inclusivity as a powerful champion of
vulnerable workers, its positive working relationship with its Palestinian counterparts,
and why this relationship should be strengthened, not undermined, by UK trade
unions. The pamphlet also details why boycotts damage Palestinian workers, set
back the cause of peace, and risk isolating British trade unions from the wider
international trade union movement, which has chosen engagement, practical solidarity
and critical dialogue.
As Vice President of TUFI I’m pleased to endorse
the pamphlet, The New Histadrut: Peace, Social Justice and the Israeli Trade
Unions. Its contents and recommendations are a powerful source of information
for all those wanting to engage with the Israeli and Palestinian trade unions.
 If we want peace in the region then surely we should be nurturing and
supporting trade union dialogue. A pathway to the goal of two states needs the
support of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians. Who better than trade unions
to facilitate this to build confidence and understanding.”
Rt Hon.Tom
Watson M
P 20.6.12.
As someone who had not yet decided which
candidate to back in the Deputy Leadership ballot, I was interested in whether
or not it is true that you are a supporter and indeed Vice President of Trade
Union Friends of Israel and therefore the Israeli union Histadrut?
If this is true then I am surprised because
Histadrut is an Apartheid union which began life campaigning for Hebrew Labour
(i.e. a boycott of Arab labour) and anyone acquainted with the subject will
know that they effectively campaign for a colour bar in the civil service when
Britain was the Mandatory power. 
Something Ernest Bevin vehemently rejected incidentally.
Until 1959 Histadrut didn’t accept Arab
members and even then it separated them into a separate Arab section.  It has also never opposed building
settlements in the West Bank, which is not surprising since the building firm
they owned, Solel Boneh, built  most of
Tony Greenstein

read more see Histadrut: Israel’s racist “trade union”, Tony Greenstein Electronic
Intifada 3.3.09.

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