British trade union highlights Israeli apartheid

Middle East Monitor  /  June 30, 2021

One of Britain’s leading trade unions, ASLEF, has published an article in its monthly journal highlighting Israeli apartheid. This is another sign of the growing awareness of systemic racism that Palestinians suffer under Israel’s brutal military occupation.

Under the headline “No peace without justice” the piece was written by Hussein Ezzedine, the secretary of the Edinburgh branch of the 22,000-member train drivers’ union. He denounced Zionism as a racist ideology and called on readers to join the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS seeks to end the structural racism in occupied Palestine, just as international sanctions played a leading role in dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa.

“It is actually very simple,” wrote Ezzedine as he pointed out that Zionism is a racist ideology. “There is an occupier and an occupied. There are ethnic cleansers and the ethnically cleansed. There is discrimination and the victims of discrimination.”

He urged readers to think about their view of Israel. “We need to change the narrative. You don’t get to drop an entire colony on top of an inhabited land, grind the inhabitants into the dirt for decades and then claim self-defence every time they retaliate!”

There can be no equality, the ASLEF official argued. “By its very nature [Israel] places one people above another.”

His remarks echo the conclusion of Human Rights Watch, which declared Israel to be an apartheid state. Prominent Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also branded Israel as an “apartheid” state that “promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”

After highlighting “the brutal realities of this [Israeli] colonial project and what has become the world’s longest military occupation of modern times,” the article offered a number of suggestions on how people can give practical support to the Palestinians, including support for BDS. “We must uphold the simple principal that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”

Predictably, the article has been condemned by one of Britain’s leading anti-Palestinian groups. “ASLEF’s Jewish members will be very concerned to see the union publishing such a one-sided and offensive tirade against Zionism,” said the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl in the Jewish Chronicle. She also denounced the article as “a disgracefully biased perspective of the Israel-Hamas conflict.”

This comment appeared to be an attempt by the Board of Deputies to divert attention from the real issue, which is Israel’s 73-year-old occupation and colonization of Palestine, not a “conflict” with Hamas.