of international conventions. This is not a straightforward case of
interstate conflict, but is instead a case of occupier against occupied.
However, as evidenced by the voting patterns in the UN, and the protests which have erupted in cities and towns globally, the majority of the world has its eyes wide open with regards to this. The governments of some the poorest countries on earth, such as Bolivia, have spoken out against Israel’s offensive. They join their Latin American neighbours Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, El Salvador and Chile in breaking off normal diplomatic ties due to what they deem to be “crimes against humanity”.
On the 26th of July in London I joined with tens of thousands of people in a march from Downing Street to the Israeli Embassy in protest against the siege of Gaza. The crowd was diverse, with people from many different backgrounds and many different organizations. I was especially proud to see grassroots trade unionists carrying their branch banners, and trade unionist leaders up on the platforms speaking. British trade unions now have well established links with organizations such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. (Dozens, including my trade union Unite, hold official affiliation). These links between trade unions and social movements are vital in terms of political strategy, and recognize that we need to organize both within civil society and as producers at the place of work. Beyond pressuring our government to change its policy, trade unions such as Unison and the FBU are actively campaigning in support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign which is putting economic pressure upon the Israeli state and companies which are complicit in the occupation.
Trade unions from all over the world have answered the call from Palestinian trade unions for solidarity. From New Zealand to South Africa, they are reaching beyond immediate bread and butter issues in order to condemn these atrocities. As most big social democratic parties have lost their role as educators, and the media has become even more concentrated into the hands of the elite, the role of trade unions as political educators rather than just tools for collective bargaining is important.
Obviously though this commendation for the actions of trade unionists should not be seen as triumphalism. Press releases condemning the occupation, marches and rallies should all be applauded, but we have been here before and their strategic effectiveness is questionable. I can’t offer the definitive answers assuming that there even are any, but there have been some great summaries out there recently in terms of practical action which you can take today both as an individual and as a trade unionist: