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LETTERS—Trade union leaders should stand up for the Palestinians

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Issue 2618
Anger during the 2014 assault on Gaza
Anger during the 2014 assault on Gaza (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Some Trade union leaders have said that Jeremy Corbyn should accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism with all of its examples (Socialist Worker, 15 August).

It’s because they are overly concerned with what the Parliamentary Labour Party and the media are saying.

The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes an example which says calling Israel a “racist endeavour” is antisemitic.

But Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu pretty much admitted it last week when talking about Jews and Arabs protesting against the new Nation State law.

He said, “Many of the demonstrators want to turn Israel into an Israeli-Palestinian state or a state of all its citizens.

“It is for precisely this we passed the nation-state law.”

Accepting all of the IHRA examples is dangerous.

It would certainly undermine Corbyn’s position and I’m worried that unions could start to backtrack over Palestine.

It would also make it harder to discuss Palestine.

And it would definitely be a threat to debate and activism on campuses.

It has already been difficult for people to have stalls, fundraise and hold other activities in solidarity with Palestine.

It’s been particularly difficult for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Anybody who sees what’s happening in Palestine—including union members—is going to be sympathetic.

Trade unions should show support for Corbyn’s position on Palestine.

A UCU union member

South Wales

When Jeremy Corbyn stands up for the rights of Palestinians, we welcome it.

Among the people who marched against the bombing were members of my union, Usdaw. And I know many Usdaw members disagree with accepting the whole IHRA definition of antisemitism, because it silences solidarity with Palestine. Criticism of Israel is vital.

Among the union leaders who called on Corbyn to sign up to it was my union’s general secretary Paddy Lillis.

The idea of a left wing government frightens the right wing union leadership.

Corbyn supports Palestinian rights—and that’s in contradiction to what the right in the Labour Party stands for.

There’s a lot of support for Corbyn among our members and the left inside Usdaw is growing.

What he says about Palestine chimes with a lot of people.

Laila Hasan

Greater Manchester

Rowan’s rubbish

Comedian Rowan Atkinson approves of Boris Johnson ridiculing Muslim women who choose to wear the burqa.

Atkinson has come a long way since he was part of an alternative comedy movement. It rejected the ubiquitous racism and sexism of the established circuit in the 1970s.

Johnson’s jibes could have come straight out of the repertoire of the odious racist comedian Bernard Manning of that period.

Sasha Simic

East London

We will not be silenced

The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and the left serve three main purposes.

They put Corbyn and the left on the defensive, and attempt to silence critics of Israel. And they distract the public from the shambles of the Tories.

Fear of being labelled antisemitic must not silence us from speaking out about the atrocities in Israel.

Criticising Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is not antisemitic. It is humanitarian and many Jewish people are also critical of Israel’s actions.

Pauline Wheat-Bowen

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Huddersfield

Don’t fall into traps

Those of us who are standing up to the right’s antisemitism smears need to think carefully about how we respond.

Sometimes people can fall into traps that weaken our argument.

After the right attacked Corbyn for appearing to defend an antisemitic mural, some foolishly defended the mural. Not giving an inch to the right’s smears doesn’t mean having to defend it.

Saying an “Israeli lobby” influences British foreign policy isn’t helpful either.

The far right use terms like “Jewish lobby” as racist code. And the West backs Israel because it’s part of its foreign policy goal of dominating the region.

Julia Ryder


Fascism isn’t a disability

Yet again the left displays an appalling lack of awareness around mental health disability.

I read on social media comments made about the far right attack on socialist bookshop Bookmarks in London (Socialist Worker, 8 August).

Some people made comments about the mental health of the fascists.

Stop this bloody infuriating crap!

You can be a fascist who has a mental health disability, but you are not a fascist because you have a mental health disability.

John Curtis


Back election reformers

I urge Labour members to vote for those who are in favour of electoral reform in the forthcoming elections to the party’s national executive committee.

Labour has spent two thirds of the past 100 years in opposition—electoral reform will remedy that.

Peter Gregson


Cladding still unchecked

Many tower blocks around the country—and there are lots of them—still haven’t even been properly checked after the Grenfell Tower fire.

This flammable cladding is also on many hospitals and other public places.

Unfortunately the government and councils don’t care. It’s about cutting corners to save pennies, all to the detriment of the people.

This is Britain now—profit before people.

Melanie Powell

On Twitter

Fracking fears of the Tories

The Tories have temporarily stopped asking the public if they are for or against fracking.

Polls since 2015 have shown that more people oppose it than support it.

The Tories are nervous as the first fracking operation in seven years is due to start.

Jacqueline West


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