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Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Lies & Distortions of the Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish Chronicle takes pride in its position as one of the oldest Jewish newspapers in the world. It also describes itself as the voice of British Jewry, though a more accurate description would be the voice of the Jewish Establishment in Britain, which today is overwhelmingly pro-Zionist.

Following the lead of papers like the Guardian and Independent, the Jewish Chronicle now asks, on its letters pages, for people to let them know of any inaccuracies, as they would like to correct them as soon as possible.

Well Dr Sue Blackwell, one of the leading supporters of the academic boycott, from Birmingham University and myself, as a delegate to the last 2 UNISON National Conferences, wrote in separately to correct an article by their correspondent Anshel Pfeffer of 10th September 2008.

Pfeffer had written, in respect of the Trade Union Friends of Israel fringe meeting at TUC Conference, and the decision of the PGFTU to accept a bribe from the monies of Palestinian workers, that Histadrut, the Zionist ‘trade union’ had long ago stolen, that ‘Last month, the RMT transport workers union rejected a boycott motion and to date, the only union actively supporting a boycott is the UCU.’

In fact UCU doesn’t support a boycott (although this is probably more a case of believing their own propaganda) whereas both UNISON and the TGWU section of UNITE do. What was the reaction of the JC? It refused to print Sue’s letter because she stipulated, from previous experiences of how they cut the letters of anti-Zionists, that she should agree any cuts to her letter. This they refused to accept. I sent in a letter without such a stipulation. Surprise, surprise, the letter was also not published!

Conclusion? That the JC would prefer that its errors remain uncorrected rather than seeing the Zionist cause undermined. That of course is the hallmark of a propaganda rag rather than a serious newspaper which the JC occasionally purports to be. It is, of course, a deliberate deception of its own readers, despite the fact that most of them prefer to remain in the dark.

From The Jewish Chronicle, Anshel Pfeffer, September 10, 2008

The Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) does not support a general boycott on trade and investment with Israel. This position emerged at the annual TUC Congress in Brighton this week, where a heated debate took place over the question of whether Palestinian workers are in favour of the boycott. At a fringe event on Tuesday, organised by the Trade Union Friends of Israel (Tufi), attended by Ambassador Ron Prosor and Avital Shapira-Shvirow, head of international relations at the Histadrut, it was claimed the Palestinian trade unions "are against the boycott of Israel as it harms first of all Palestinian workers." Boycott supporters who attended the event claimed the opposite. Sue Blackwell of Birmingham University, a key supporter of the boycott at the University and College Union, insisted: "It is our Palestinian colleagues who have called for the boycott, and the PGFTU have signed the petitions." No representative of the PGFTU was present at the event, but Fathi Nasser, legal adviser of the PGFTU and the main speaker at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign fringe meeting, later told the JC that organisation was not in favour of a general boycott: "We think there should be boycotts only of companies directly involved in building settlements and the apartheid wall."

Members of TUFI said the reception they had received this year from delegates was, overall, positive. "Three years ago they stripped our stand of all leaflets," said volunteer Ian Sternberg. "This year the stand is opposite that of the PSC and things are quite friendly."Tufi chairman Roger Lyons said: "The agreement the Histadrut and PGFTU have just signed seems to have cut the legs off most attacks and calls for boycott."The agreement means that 50 per cent of the union membership fees of Palestinians working for Israeli firms will be transferred to the PGFTU.Last month, the RMT transport workers union rejected a boycott motion and to date, the only union actively supporting a boycott is the UCU.

Letter from Tony Greenstein to Jewish Chronicle, 16.9.08.

Letters Editor, The Jewish Chronicle 25 Furnival Street London EC4A 1JT
Dear Sir or Madam:
The article by Anshel Pfeffer (JC 11.9.08.) on the question of support in the trade union movement for a boycott is not correct.

I spoke at both the 2007 and 2008 UNISON annual conferences in favour of a boycott of Israeli goods and produce and in opposition to the enforced boycott of Gaza and the Palestinian territories by Israel. I can assure you that the policy on Boycott has not been changed or overturned. Likewise the TGWU section of UNITE also has similar policy, as Tony Woodley made clear at the PSC fringe meeting.

Roger Lyons of TUFI is engaging in wishful thinking if he believes that an agreement between Histadrut and PGFTU, returning monies belonging to Palestinian workers which was taken from their pay packets without their agreement, has thereby undermined the campaign of Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions.
If Histadrut wants to end the Boycott campaign then the simplest way of doing so is it to join us in opposing the Apartheid Wall, the siege of Gaza and the occupation and land confiscation in the West Bank. That should be the role of a trade union, not supporting the continued repression of Palestinian workers.
Yours faithfully,

Tony Greenstein Delegate to 2007 and 2008 National Conferences – Brighton & Hove Unison

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