Opposition to Peace
The PSC’s critics charge it with failing to be pro-Palestinian, and rather solely anti-Israel. Its obsession with Israel is well-documented, but does the PSC take steps to actively endanger peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict?
The PSC’s own website notes that it “works closely with trade unions and currently has seventeen unions affiliated – representing more than 80% of trade union members of the TUC – while a growing number of trade union branches and regions are affiliating to the campaign.” PSC chair Hugh Lanning is also chair of the Public Commercial Services Union.
Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) ended its annual conference with a call on its affiliates to review any bilateral relations they might have with Israeli organisations.
According to an amendment proposed by the PCS civil service union, “Congress calls on all unions on the basis of this policy to review their bi-lateral relations with all Israeli organisations, including Histadrut.”
TULIP, a pro-peace organisation dedicated to bringing Israeli and Palestinian trade unions together noted with disappointment:
“Israel is being singled out, and the Histadrut is being isolated, because that is what the Iranian regime wants – and it using not only its proxies in Hamas and Hizbollah to do so, but its arm in the British trade union movement – the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The PSC has successfully pushed British unions to uncritically embrace the view of the rabidly anti-union dictators in Tehran regarding Israel and its trade unions.”
The PSC logo reflects a map of a greater Palestine with no room for an Israeli state at all. This, as Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has noted, implies a deliberate refusal of Israel’s right to exist. Some proponents of the PSC argue that although the speakers hosted by the group frequently call for Israel’s destruction, it does not reflect the wider aims of the organisation; however, to many observers, the refusal to adopt a logo indicative of peace suggests otherwise.
Given the evidence presented so far, some might argue that although the PSC appears to have few qualms linking themselves to both deeply illiberal and openly bigoted ideologues, at least they are working for peaceful resolution and the self-determination of the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, this appears to not be the case. By examining the PSC’s activities over the last ten years, we have concluded that the PSC subsists on reactionary thinking – its claim of probity clearly at odds with its apologism for violence and failure to demonstrate a genuine desire for peace.
The PSC does not differentiate between the land on which Israel was established in 1948 and the land gained in the defensive 1967 war. Israel proper is frequently described as “occupied territory.” This is hardly a progressive case for ending the conflict; in fact, it can be viewed as a deliberate legitimisation of violence and destruction.
Martial Kurtz, National Organiser for the PSC, has said, “It will be for the Palestinians to decide which way this is going. A one-state solution, as a bi-national democratic state, will indeed mean the end of an Israeli Jewish state, as it exists.”
The PSC website states that it is “in opposition to…[the] Zionist nature of the Israeli state”. There is a consummate hypocrisy in supporting the self-determination for one people while denying it for another. This is yet further suggestion that the PSC is not committed to peace.
The Israelis have accepted that the 950,000 Jews forced from their homes in Arab states from the 1940s onwards do not require any form of compensation, as few would wish to return. However, the return of Palestinian refugees who fled after the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948 is a key issue, and a driving force behind the emotional justification of pro-Palestinian activism.
It is understood by genuine advocates for peace on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides that a compromise will have to be found over the issue of refugees. The PSC, however, advocates for the Palestinians to have an absolute “right of return” to their homes, or their ancestors’ homes, abandoned on Israel’s creation in 1948. It is this sort of absolutism – this unwillingness to negotiate – that is overtly detrimental to the prospects of peace.
Once idealism sets in this strongly, truth itself is the usually the first to suffer. The outpourings, radicalism and obsessiveness of the PSC are an all clear example of this. For example, the PSC condemns Israel for “aggression against neighbouring states” but consistently fails to mention in its literature and events that Israel was attacked in 1948 (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), 1967 (Egypt, Jordan and Syria) and 1973 (Egypt and Syria).
This suggests a deep level of irrationalism, justified by the blinding light of absolutist idealism. The notion of truth in the PSC’s employ is clearly considered superfluous; a deficiency shrouded from question with the invocation of emotional tales of victims from bloody conflict. In our opinion, this shameless demagoguery easily explains the PSC’s casual acceptance of extremist ideas.
Most leaders within the PSC openly reject the two-state solution, including Ghada Karmi, who seeks a UN resolution “exposing the inequity and dishonesty of the two-state solution”, and Dr. Ilan Pappe, a prominent ‘one-state solution’ proponent.