My day outside the PCS Annual Conference

My day outside the PCS Annual Conference

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On 25 May, I spent my lunchtime with Trade Unions Friends of Israel (TUFI) and Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) outside the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union annual conference in Brighton.

We stood outside the Conference arena handing out leaflets about TUFI and the Histadrut (the Israeli Trade Union) with the aim of expanding TUFI’s network.

Why were we standing outside rather than exhibiting within the arena? Unfortunately TUFI are not affiliated with PCS so could not secure exhibition space. TUFI has never been present inside a PCS Conference arena.

It is a shame TUFI could not exhibit inside. Their policies should not be seen as controversial. TUFI believe and advocate for a two-state solution and work closely with the Histadrut who have a strong record of protecting Palestinian rights.

 

The Histadrut not only helps Palestinian Arabs living in Israel but also Palestinians living in the West Bank. The HIstadrut has organised Arab workers with full membership since 1959. In 2008, the Histadrut signed a landmark agreement with the PGFTU (Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions) which was hailed by the International Labour Organisation for offering ‘hope on the way to peace.’ The Histadrut also give 50% of Palestinian membership fees to the PGFTU as an expression of solidarity.

 

We handed out leaflets politely outside and were shortly joined by a Socialist Workers Party stall. They had literature against the Conservative Party and against racism and Islamophobia. Once they noticed we were handing out literature supportive of Israel (and the Palestinians), they quickly wrote the following message on the back of a poster and stuck it up ‘Palestine will be free!’

pcs swp STALL

TUFI also want a state of Palestine; it said as much in the leaflet we were handing out. TUFI believes in two states for two peoples.

The SWP’S idea of a Palestinian state seems to differ from TUFI’s. The SWP want a one-state solution for the Palestinian people in replacement of the state of Israel. If this as not the case, the SWP should have been happy with our presence and maybe even offer our literature at their stall.

It is ironic really how a ‘No to racism’ poster has a ‘Free Palestine’ poster next to it in retaliation for ‘friends of Israel’ leaflets – Israel – a Jewish state. Is it not racist to advocate for one people’s self-determination but not another?

You can be friends of both – SWP and others need to realise that.

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