Support for the Palestinian cause has been growing in recent years.
Firstly, as millions of people protested against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they learned more about the damage that US and UK foreign policy has been causing the Middle East, and the central part that Israel has played as the USA's belligerent proxy in the region.
Secondly, we saw the barbaric attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, which few could defend as "proportionate" to any grievance that Israel could point to.
This week, the Israeli attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza has awoken many more people to the terrible injustices facing Palestinians. Exactly what level of violence would have been a "proportionate" a response to people bringing desperately needed humanitarian aid?
Last night a lot of the delegates to the UNITE and UCU conferences, which were taking place in Manchester, joined a huge and angry protest outside the BBC, which has become a focal point because of its biased coverage of Middle Eastern affairs. One protester managed to hoist a Palestinian flag on a flagpole high on the building:
This morning, UNITE conference agreed an Emergency Motion:
Conference condemns the hostile unprovoked attack in international waters by the Israeli forces on the humanitarian convoy which was on its way to aid and relieve the suffering of the people of Gaza.While only a few years ago raising the plight of the Palestinians was controversial, there now seems to be an overwhelming consensus that we need a mass solidarity movement on the scale of Anti-Apartheid to stop the UK and US governments propping up this racist and violent state.
We urge this Conference to do everything in its power to lobby the UK Government, Labour Party, TUC, European Parliament and all other relevant organisations to outright condemn the actions of Israel and lobby for immediate sanctions.
We ask this Conference to send a letter of support to the Palestinian trade union movement (PGFTU) to let them know that we stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side in their struggle to free themselves from oppression.
At the Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe meeting today, I heard three UNITE Executive Council members talk about their experiences having visited Palestine earlier in the year. What brings the issues home most often isn't the numbers dead or other horrific statistics, but the every-day harassment and oppression that Palestinians have to put up with. The delegates described in a very matter-of-fact way some of the examples they had seen with their own eyes. It was both moving and an unanswerable case for action.
Motions are a start, but a mass movement needs many individuals and groups to take practical steps. What can you do in your workplace or community? Can you join the national demonstration on Saturday?