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Friday, 21 October 2016

Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s silence over the Zionist ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is as deafening as it’s embarrassing

Like 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
There 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 Network In support of the Zionist Federation Vice Chairman and other activists

In 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
The ‘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.

In 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:

Thank 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 states.

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 “Israel”.’

Corbyn 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 PSC Executive

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 resignation.

On 23 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. 

I am 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 standards."

Although 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 happened. 

The 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.’
Ben 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.

As 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 abundance.

FSOI 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 responded thus:

‘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.

Jonathan

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 toto:

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 leader.

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 problem?

Les

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.

What 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 speakers’ tours.

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:

i.               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. 

ii.             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 saidThis 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. 

iii.           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.

iv.           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.

Tony Greenstein



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