Israel’s bloody attack on Gaza in December and January left over 1,000 Palestinians dead, including hundreds of children.
We can not support Hamas, the Islamist party elected to govern Gaza, which has suppressed strikes, discriminates against women, condemns homosexuality and whose Charter advocates killing Jews. But opposing Hamas does not justify Israel’s military action. Israel must end its occupation and siege of Palestinian territories.
The way forward for peace is working-class unity, and the recognition of the Palestinians’ right to an independent state alongside Israel. As trade unionists, we need to make solidarity with Israeli and Palestinian workers and campaigners pursuing this goal.
Active solidarity is a far better way forward than the boycott of all things Israeli that some advocate. A boycott would be counter-productive and could even become a vehicle for anti-semitism, despite the good intentions of most people who advocate it. RMT agreed with this solidarity-not-boycott stance at its 2008 AGM, but has not organised enough solidarity. The AGM called for a financial appeal for a trade-union-based project, but we are still waiting for it to materialise.
On 8 January trains in Norway stood still for two minutes in protest against Israel’s invasion. The union explained:
Because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Locomotive Drivers Union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people. This will be organised by adding two more minutes of stoppage at the station. The same action applies to all passenger trains in Norway simultaneously. We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding.
MEANWHILE IN ISRAEL ...
From ‘Solidarity’ 12/2/09
Israeli rail workers are having to contend with both hostile public opinion and intense opposition from the bureaucracy of their own union following wildcat strike action.
Passengers have filed a class action law suit to the tune of NIS 12million, and leaders of the workers’ union (the Israeli Railway Workers’ Union) and the Histadrut (the Israeli equivalent of the TUC) both came out strongly against the strikes, calling them “unruly and illegal” and ordering them to return to work.
The strike was coordinated by a rank-and-file committee (the union’s official leading committee has ceased functioning following a police probe into alleged corruption) in opposition to a wave of summary dismissals of workers and their replacements with individuals considered loyal to management.