Daily Mail

Union barons and the activist who spoke of ‘genocide’

- By Mary O’Connor and Connor Stringer

LEADING trade unionists shared a platform with a Palestinia­n activist who compared the situation in the West Bank to a ‘concentrat­ion camp’.

Speaking from the territory, veteran Palestinia­n activist Mahmoud Zwahre told an online meeting last Thursday evening that the West Bank was ‘ closed’, with villages locked down by Israeli security forces and armed settlers attacking Palestinia­ns, forcing them out of their homes.

Addressing nearly 300 trade unionists at the meeting organised by the Stop the War coalition, he went on to claim that ‘if Gaza is under genocide, then the West Bank is a concentrat­ion camp’.

Mr Zwahre, who co-founded the Popular Struggle Co- ordination Committee, a resistance network in the West Bank, also took aim at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for travelling to Israel and backing its military action in Gaza, saying the situation in the enclave had become ‘a genocide issue’.

He praised as ‘amazing’ the pro-Palestine rush-hour sit-in at London’s Liverpool Street station last Tuesday, and encouraged listeners to continue to disturb people’s daily lives and to boycott companies that support Israel.

Dave Rich, director of policy at the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which protects British Jews from anti-Semitism and other threats, told the Mail: ‘At a time when anti-Semitism is through the roof in this country and tensions between communitie­s are quite strained, public figures should avoid such divisive and inflammato­ry language that risks making things worse.’

The Internatio­nal Holocaust Remembranc­e Alliance (IHRA) provides a working definition of anti- Semitism which has been adopted by the UK Government, the Labour Party, and other organisati­ons. On its website, the IHRA says that ‘drawing comparison­s of contempora­ry Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ is a working example of anti-Semitism.

Among those listening to Mr Zwahre’s speech were senior trade unionists including Louise Regan, internatio­nal committee chairman of the National Education Union (NEU); Alex Gordon, president of the militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT); and Sean Vernell, a member of the University and College Union’s (UCU) national executive committee.

Ms Regan is a hard-Left supporter of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a man who once referred to the Hamas terror group as ‘friends’.

She was suspended as chairman of her constituen­cy Labour Party after allowing a motion in support of Mr Corbyn to be debated. She has previously pledged to ‘win justice for the Palestine people’ and is among those to have visited the territory on behalf of the union.

Wearing a traditiona­l keffiyeh scarf, the NEU firebrand attacked political leaders for their ‘silence’ on the humanitari­an crisis unfolding in Gaza. Urging listeners to demand their unions pressure politician­s for an immediate ceasefire, she added that this was not just about the October 7 Hamas attacks but a ‘long-standing situation’.

She also called on union members to attend demonstrat­ions in solidarity with the Palestinia­n people and said that on November 11 organisers want one million people to take to the streets of London.

The Mail has previously revealed how the NEU spends tens of thousands of pounds on part-funding ‘solidarity’ junkets to the West Bank, with the NEU’s own supporters even questionin­g the visits and calling for them to stop.

Speaking at Thurday’s meeting, RMT president Mr Gordon, who has attended recent pro-Palestinia­n marches in London, condemned the situation in Gaza as an ‘appalling genocide’.

He added that ‘however disastrous and malevolent the Tories are’ they are not ‘immune’ from political pressure and the unions had an ‘important’ role to play in shaping public policy.

Referring to Mr Zwahre’s account from the West Bank, Mr Vernell of the UCU described the situation as a ‘genocide’ and an ‘attempt to wipe off the face of the earth the Palestinia­n people’.

The RMT, National Education Union and Stop the War Coalition were approached for comment but did not respond. The University College Union (UCU) declined to comment.

Lost in the crowd: These three Poppy Appeal collectors found themselves surrounded by pro-Palestine demonstrat­ors at Charing Cross station on Saturday
CHARING CROSS, LONDON Lost in the crowd: These three Poppy Appeal collectors found themselves surrounded by pro-Palestine demonstrat­ors at Charing Cross station on Saturday

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