GMB suspends, may expel member because branch proposed severing ties with JLM

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

Motion calling for disaffiliation with right-wing, pro-Israel group leads to suspension by union – but GMB has not explained supposed inaccuracies or why democratic motion in line with union policy is problematic

The GMB union has suspended a former employee and current union member – because his London branch passed a motion for GMB’s 2023 Congress calling for disaffiliation from right-wing, pro-Israel group JLM (Jewish Labour Movement).

The motion, which was passed unanimously by Walthamstow branch, reads:

Congress accepts that the decision to work with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) runs contrary to GMB’s support for Palestine, has brought the union into disrepute and should never have been countenanced.

Congress notes that the JLM is effectively the UK wing of the Israeli Labour Party, a racist organisation that governed Israel from 1948 to 1977 and was directly responsible for the massacre or the expulsion of three quarters of a million Palestinians. Today, some of their Knesset members support the most right-wing Israeli regime in history.

JLM conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism and by dint of its support, GMB is leaving itself open to accusations that it is supporting the racist treatment of Palestinian people. Therefore, Congress instructs the General Secretary and the CEC to sever all ties with JLM forthwith.

GMB, like the other major unions, has an official – and democratically reached – policy supporting the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement, which JLM opposes and in both 2011 and 2013 passed resolutions not to allow its members to travel to Israel on delegations organised by ‘Trade Union Friends of Israel’ (TUFI).

But despite the apparently obvious alignment between the Walthamstow branch’s motion and the union’s official position, the GMB’s regional secretary has written to branch member Bert Schouwenburg, ‘in comradeship’, informing him that he has been suspended for the ‘antisemitic’ resolution:

Skwawkbox called and wrote to the GMB press office, asking:

As just discussed, please find attached the union’s letter to Bert Schouwenburg, suspending him because Walthamstow branch submitted a motion for disaffiliation with the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) on the grounds that affiliation risks GMB being seen as complicit in Israel’s racist treatment of Palestinians.


  1. JLM is an openly pro-Israel organisation, which – particularly given the current regime’s extremist right-wing politics and open intention to further expand illegal settlements, would appear to make affiliation at odds with the union’s longstanding, congress-approved position not to affiliate with Trade Union Friends of Israel or allow travel to Israel, because of the Israeli government’s racist policies and illegal settlements. Why is a branch motion being used to suspend a member?
  2. the motion was submitted by the Walthamstow branch, which voted unanimously for it (see Is GMB suspending the whole branch or just Mr Schouwenburg?
  3. Israel’s government has been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem and others as an apartheid regime and its government is openly racist, including its Finance Minister who has boasted of being a ‘fascist homophobe’. Why is the union suspending one or more members for a democratic motion to open a conference debate about the morals of a link with a strongly pro-Israel group that does not appear to have condemned even the worst excesses of the current Netanyahu regime?
  4. what are the ‘factual inaccuracies’ claimed by Warren Kenny? Is the union disputing that the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians took place in and subsequent to 1948?

No response had been received from the union by the time of writing, seven hours after the provided deadline.

Mr Schouwenburg told Skwawkbox:

By seeking to expel me from the union, GMB are trying to shut down any voices that dissent from their newly-found enthusiasm for Israel’s apartheid regime. Under Gary Smith, a union that once backed the call for Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) is now supporting the most vicious, right-wing government in Israel’s history.

I refuse to be silenced by the reactionary bureaucrats in charge of GMB and urge fellow members to join me in giving unconditional support to the Palestinian people

GMB general secretary Gary Smith was responsible for last year’s decision by the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival to uninvite pro-Palestinian musician and activist Lowkey. The union has also adopted the unfit ‘IHRA working definition’ of antisemitism, which legal experts say does not define anything and human rights groups and even its creator says is dangerous and exists to suppress criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian human rights.

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

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Armed police arrest 33 for peaceful protest vs Israeli arms-maker – including Palestine Action founders

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard were not even in Leicestershire, but were arrested elsewhere without explanation and handed over to Leicestershire Police use ‘intimidation and blanket detention’ at Elbit demo

A Palestine Action protester faces police at Elbit in Leicester

Armed police have used ‘intimidation and blanket detention’ to break up a peaceful protest at the Leicester factory of Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems. According to organisers Palestine Action (PA), Leicestershire police used indiscriminate arrest – detaining even bystanders – despite the protest passing peacefully since it began on Monday.

And PA’s co-founders were arrested despite not being at the demo – or even in Leicestershire. A PA statement explains further:

An unprecedented 33 arrests were made yesterday at the site of the Palestine Action siege, as Leicestershire Police took disproportionate measures using unjustifiable force against individuals who had turned out in opposition to Israel’s arms trade. The siege continues into its third day, a mass mobilisation against the UAV Tactical Systems drone factory in Leicester – owned by Israel’s largest weapons company, Elbit Systems.

Leicestershire Police, having witnessed the speeches, workshops, dance, and community mobilisation that have characterised The Siege thus far, stepped in with all of the force at their disposal to intimidate and detain those standing against Elbit. Throughout yesterday, arrests were made indiscriminately, without evidence and with the clear motivation to repress the growing mobilisation. Police, who arrived with armed units yesterday, have deployed tactics including kettling, property seizure, breaking and entering cars, the raiding of homes and the dismantling of encampments. Of the 33 arrested, the majority were taken to Euston Street station, released on bail overnight.

Police arrested a score of those who had populated a woodland camp adjacent to the site, along with four who had locked-on to each other in the road, and supporters and bystanders. As reported by Leicester Mercury, the action throughout Monday, where 250 people had assembled, had “passed peacefully”, with Police were not offering any reason for their encroachment into the camp.

The arrests included two co-founders of Palestine Action, Huda Ammori and Richard Barnard, taken into custody for reasons as of yet unclear, arrested in a different jurisdiction and transferred to Leicester early this morning. The pair’s arrest, unconnected to any events at the site of the factory, demonstrate that the police strategy is one of intimidation and blanket detention.

The activist network Palestine Action have committed to mobilising against UAV Tactical Systems, and this mass action will persist regardless of underhand, unjustified aggression that the police undertake on behalf of Elbit Systems. And the community is onside: after the police seized the tents, blankets, food and possessions of those camped at the site, the Leicester community turned up to donate blankets, sleeping bags, food and other necessities that the police had deprived protestors of. Joining the site of the siege last night for Janazah Salah (funeral prayers) in solidarity with hunger striker Khader Adnan, Leicester residents have made clear that Israel’s war machine is not welcome on their streets.

Last night’s bombing raids on Gaza, along with the death-in-unlawful-custody of Adnan, underscore the purpose of the siege: ridding Leicester of the stain of complicity in Israel’s crimes. A Palestine Action spokesperson has stated:

“The Siege of UAV Tactical Systems has so far proved successful: successful in laying bare the reality of police ‘protection’ – their aggressive tactics and arbitrary arrests being used to protect the interests and reputation of a murderous weapons company. The success also lies in the response we have seen: people stand defiant in the face of police repression, a community unifying in opposition to Israel’s arms trade. As stated, we intend to see UAV Tactical Systems shut down”.

In Leicester and across Elbit’s other 7 remaining sites in Britain, military technologies are manufactured for export directly to Israel. The UAV Tactical Systems site regularly sends drones and drone technologies to Israel, where Elbit’s drone products brutally enforce the Israeli occupation of Palestine. UAV Tactical Systems’ flagship drone, the Watchkeeper, has been used by the British military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the English Channel – but is itself modelled on the notorious and deadly Hermes drone, after the latter was ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinians. Elbit, Israel’s largest weapons company, supplies 85% of Israel’s drones, and 85% of its land based military equipment. Its products, including the Hermes, have been linked to documented attrocities by the Israeli state

Original article republished from the Skwawkbox for non-commercial use.

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Israeli violence at al-Aqsa mosque shows ‘sheer brutality’ of apartheid, says Amnesty International UK

ISRAEL has been condemned for mounting a second brutal attack on worshippers at one of Islam’s holiest sites — the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), who were filmed on Tuesday using clubs and stun grenades to attack Palestinian worshippers, returned to the mosque on Wednesday for a repeat of the operation.

Human rights group Amnesty International UK said the second attack on al-Aqsa “illustrates the sheer brutality of Israel’s system of apartheid against Palestinians.”

Heba Morayef of Amnesty said: “Once again, the Israeli security forces have shown the world what apartheid looks like.

“These orchestrated attacks demonstrate just how far the Israeli authorities will go to maintain their cruel system of apartheid.

“Israeli security forces have now subjected Palestinian worshippers to two consecutive nights of horror and turned one of the holiest sites in Islam into a crime scene.

Continue ReadingIsraeli violence at al-Aqsa mosque shows ‘sheer brutality’ of apartheid, says Amnesty International UK

50 wounded and 350 arrested as Israeli police storm al-Aqsa mosque

ISRAELI police stormed the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem today, firing stun grenades at Palestinians inside who responded by throwing stones and firecrackers.

Outside the mosque’s gate, police dispersed crowds of young men with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

People arrested and later released from the compound said police had burst in and attacked worshippers, using truncheons, rifles and even chairs to strike men, women and children, with video footage appearing to confirm their accounts.

Continue Reading50 wounded and 350 arrested as Israeli police storm al-Aqsa mosque

Breaking: new Labour Files episode sees Forde respond to Labour racism

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The Al Jazeera ‘Labour Files’ documentary series exposed afresh the rampant racism and war on democracy of the Labour right, both to sabotage the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and to purge the left from the party under Keir Starmer.

Now a new episode sees Martin Forde – the barrister Starmer reluctantly commissioned to investigate the report’s allegations and whose findings have been ignored by the Labour right and their media allies ever since – respond to the programme’s evidence and conclusions:

Watch and share widely.

The Labour Files – The Forde Response I Al Jazeera Investigations

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