The national trade union body has been accused of “providing the infrastructure” for Israel’s enemies, after it voted to boycott Israeli goods on Wednesday.
News that delegates at the annual Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference in Liverpool had done so was greeted with disappointment from the Jewish community, which warned the umbrella group against double standards.
“[The TUC] condemns anti-Semitism while speaking positively about anti-Semitic Hamas, and it doesn’t even mention rocket attacks on Israel,” read a statement from the Fair Play campaign, a cross-communal initiative to fight boycotts.
“It supports a two-state solution, but refuses to work to make the two-state solution a reality… The TUC’s actions are instead focused on pulling Israeli and Palestinian workers further apart.”
With union activists targeting the EU Israel Trade Agreement, the Fair Play spokesperson charged that the TUC decision would lay the groundwork for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigngove in the UK.
“Today’s decision will mean that the TUC will provide the infrastructure of the anti-Israel boycott movement, funding and organising its conferences and coordinating its campaigns.”
The TUC vote to boycott Israeli goods comes after UNITE, the country’s biggest union with 1.7 million members, opted to do likewise in July this year.
In Liverpool, delegates were presented with figures from the Gaza conflict, with one slide titled “Devastation” listing the number of homes, schools, hospitals, health centres and mosques destroyed.
Kathy Dyson, of the Musicians Union, spoke in support of the General Council statement on the situation in Gaza, which said Israeli action amounted to “collective punishment of a population suffering the blockade”.
She added: “In a time of despair, we can look for grassroots efforts for peace, such as cultural and musical exchanges that I have witnessed between Israelis and Palestinians in my time in the region”.
Shortly before the vote, Tory chief whip Michael Gove MP had warned against the dangers of boycotting Israel in a high-profile speech in London.
“What began with a campaign against Jewish goods in the past ended with a campaign against Jewish lives,” he said.
“We need to spell out that this sort of prejudice starts with the Jews but never ends with the Jews.
We need to stand united against hate, now more than ever.”