From The Daily Telegraph, July 18, 2018, by Frank Chung:
A SENIOR union official has broken ranks with his colleagues to speak out against an “anti-Semitic” push to condemn Israel for the “genocide” of Palestinians.
The resolution, which called on a Labor government to immediately recognise a Palestinian state, was passed overwhelmingly by the Left Caucus at the Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress in Brisbane on Monday afternoon.
The Left Caucus makes up roughly 400 of the estimated 1000 union delegates attending the three-day union meeting, which will set the scene for Labor’s upcoming National Conference in December.
“The motion itself condemned Israel for the ‘genocide’ of the Palestinian people and called on a Labor government to immediately recognise the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders,” said Jeff Lapidos, tax branch secretary of the Australian Services Union.
The left and right factions met separately on Monday to put forward motions that would then be debated on the floor of the congress. ACTU members collectively represent an estimated two million Australian workers.
A delegate from the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union put forward the anti-Israel motion, calling for it to be put direct to the ACTU executive to avoid debate on the floor, where it would be voted down by the right.
“They didn’t want a divisive debate,” Mr Lapidos said.
“He made it clear that the Right Caucus didn’t support the motion but the left had a majority at the ACTU executive, so the plan obviously is to discuss it behind closed doors and ram it through.
“I got up and spoke against it, that it was wrong and shouldn’t be supported. I spoke for a minute or two, someone else spoke in favour for 30 seconds, then it was passed by an overwhelming majority by a vote of the hands.”
In 2011, ACTU secretary Sally McManus said she vigorously supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel “to end the violation of human rights and to campaign against Israel as a means of peaceful resistance”.
Mr Lapidos stressed he was speaking in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the ASU, which unlike more militant left-wing unions does not take positions on international affairs.
He said the motion was effectively a “vote of no confidence” in the Labor Party’s current policy on Israel “which is to be even-handed”, and was the only motion that had to be “debated behind closed doors”.
“For reasons I don’t fully understand, the left in Australia has developed a very anti-Israel, anti-Semitic passion,” he said. “Instead of backing the only democracy in the Middle East, they prefer to back a regime of murderous thugs. That’s what Hamas is, that’s what the Palestinian Authority is.”
Mr Lapidos said it was a “big distraction for the ACTU”. “Most ordinary working people aren’t interested in the socialist revolution,” he said. “They want a better outcome for them and their families.”
An AMWU spokesman said, “It would be inappropriate for us to distribute any motions before they have been debated and voted on at the ACTU executive or congress. We don’t intend to make any further comments about this matter.”
Peter Wertheim co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said accusing Israel of genocide was an “outrageous lie, in fact an inversion of the truth”.
“It is Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas, which has a charter pledging that it will ‘obliterate’ Israel, who adopt the cowardly practice of hiding behind Palestinian civilians in Gaza while targeting Israeli civilian population centres with thousands of rockets and mortars, and burning hundreds of hectares of crops and nature reserves in Israel with incendiary devices,” he said.
“The Palestinian population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza has increased fivefold since Israel was established, but if the Palestinian leadership had their way, the Jewish population of the country would be evicted or exterminated.
“This is why Israel defends its people so determinedly. Israel has offered the Palestinians statehood on at least three occasions, but the Palestinian leadership gives far higher priority to destroying the Jewish State than establishing a Palestinian State.
“If the ALP Left really champions human rights, as it claims, it should come to grips with these realities instead of indulging in outdated polemics.”
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong distanced the party from the motion. “This is a motion before the ACTU Conference — it is a matter for them and has no relationship to the position of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party,” a spokesman said.
“Labor has long supported, and continues to support, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We support Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognised boundaries and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
“A just two-state resolution will require recognising the right of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live in peace and security.
“Labor, whether in government or opposition, will continue to work with the parties to the conflict, with our allies, and with the wider international community to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
The ACTU declined to comment.