This is a cross post from Adam Langleben’s thoughts on Barnet, Europe and the Jewish World by Adam Langleben.
Much has been written over the past several weeks about the co-op’s decision to boycott products produced from the West Bank and Unison’s decision to un-invite Moty Cristal from speaking at a conference in Manchester. I will not dwell too much on it or repeat it, as you can find information and comment elsewhere.
Why has this happened? And why do these (mostly irrational and ill-thought through) boycott motions continually happen, over and over again?
Answer: Because we (the Jewish community) broadly speaking do not engage with those bodies. Of course, Trades Union Friends of Israel, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, as well as others engage on a senior level, but this often lacks the necessary punch in organisations such as trades unions or co-operatives. These organisations are democratic bodies, and communication at the top will only get you so far.
What we need are teaching staff, civil servants, local government workers and others to actually join their trades unions and engage in these bodies.
Ruthlessly attacking bodies such as these after a vote has been cast simply forces them to take a defensive line, as they need to defend the decision made via the mandate that they have, regardless of turnout, as these are the rules.
I joined the Labour Party when I was 20, back then I did not realise that by being a Jewish member of this party, a party with a great tradition that I am proud of, I would be on the frontline in the fight against Delegitimisation of the State of Israel. However, this responsibility has been thrust upon myself and all other Jewish and Zionist members of the Labour Party, it is not a task we asked for, and often we may fail at influencing our peers, but we have a voice at the table because we have a great many Jewish members and make ourselves heard.
As a member of the GMB I have written to my branch secretary asking for clarification on their interpretation of the TUC stance on Israel. I am also awaiting a reply from my local Cooperative representative about the boycott on West Bank produce.
Public sector workers, especially Jewish ones are also on the front line. They have an opportunity to influence their representative trades unions to ensure that they are not hijacked and turned into vehicles which promote values opposite to that of the mainstream.
I would like to see a Trades Unions/Cooperative/local political parties (of any mainstream persuasion) membership drive within the community to ensure that we are part of the discussion, inside the tent rather than peeking through a hole on the outside shouting, kicking and screaming.
So find one and join! Never know, you might actually enjoy it!