UNISON delegates expressed their concern this morning at attempts to silence those who campaign for Palestinian rights, in an emotional debate including contributions from members who have visited the region.
Jackie Lewis for the national LGBT committee warned against ‘pinkwashing’ – the attempt to portray Israel as a bastion of LGBT rights in order to nullify criticism.
“There can be no pride in Israeli apartheid,” she told the union’s national delegate conference in Brighton.
One delegate told how she met a young Israeli Jew, who was so traumatised by what he was forced to do during his national military service that he and others bravely formed a group called Breaking the Silence, to let people know what was being done to the Palestinian people.
Another speaker said that attempts by the UK government to stop boycott Israel campaigns was indicative of how powerful such campaigns are.
And for the executive, Paul Glover stressed that the union’s work on Palestine has always been based on international law.
Of the campaign for a boycott and disvestment, he said: “It’s making a huge difference. Public pressure is forcing companies to withdraw from the occupied territories,” something that is problematic for the Israeli government.
The executive was urged to:
- campaign for the repeal of restrictive laws that seek to silence those campaigning for Palestinian rights;
- continue campaigning for an end to the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the blockade of Gaza;
- continue positive campaigning on the boycott and divestment.