This is a guest post by Jak Codd.
On March 31st UNISON, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, announced their support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s effort to end the sale of Israeli settlement produce in Britain. On the face of it this is hardly a controversial position – the settlements established from 1967 onwards are widely considered illegal and a barrier to the peace process.
However, a closer look at the ideology and discourse of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign show that all is not as it seems. The PSC have an interesting article on their website entitled 62 Years of Nakba in which they state the following:
The United Nations had proposed a partition plan giving 55% of ancient Palestine for a Jewish state but the Zionists – who had targeted the whole of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish State long before the Nazi atrocities – took 78% of the land by terrorist tactics and military force.
The clear implication here is that it is not the land taken in the 1967 war by Israel that is occupied, but rather much of the land that Israel controlled after the 1948 War of Independence. Under this thinking, the cities such as Ashdod, Beersheva and Jaffa are considered occupied Palestinian land. Does the PSC consider produce from these areas as ‘settlement goods’ that should be boycotted?
The PSC’s ‘Settlements – The Fact’ briefing sheet again reiterates this position :
In 1947, the UN partitioned Palestine (whose population was 70% Palestinian Arab) and decreed that 55% of the land would be used to create Israel. In 1948, Zionist forces seized more land, razing about 500 Palestinian villages to the ground and driving 750,000 Palestinians abroad as refugees. More than 13,000 Palestinians were killed.
The PSC is deliberately blurring the line between the lands occupied in 1967, and the State of Israel as established in 1948. The TUC, UNISON, and other trade unions that sign up to the PSC campaign to boycott settlement goods should clearly distance themselves from any attempt to conflate the two. Failure to do so could result in a full scale boycott of Israeli goods, which would be a barrier to peace and significantly damage Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and workers on the ground. Opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be accompanied by solidarity with grassroots activists in the Histadrut and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions. It is the workers on the ground that want to see a just and long lasting peace for Israel and Palestinian – and it is groups like the PSC that seek to undermine them at every turn.