A senior figure in the Scottish Trades Union Congress has sparked a row with an attack on a new group that brings together Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists.
STUC assistant general secretary Mary Senior told a meeting of the International Solidarity Movement in Paris that Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (Tulip) “appears to be the creation of the British-led organisation Trade Union Friends of Israel. We must never underestimate the Zionist lobby. And we must be prepared to stand up to their accusations of antisemitism.”
Tulip, in fact, was set up by the Community trade union — with bodies in America, Canada, Australia and Germany — to build bridges between the trade unionists in Israel and Palestine.
Ms Senior, who visited Israel and the Palestinian areas in March, also spoke about a consultation STUC had carried out with the Jewish communities in Edinburgh and Glasgow prior to supporting calls for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.
She said: “This dialogue has been difficult given their accusations of the conflation of Israel and Judaism. However, STUC has been clear in this work that our target is the Israeli state, not Judaism or Jewish people. I am clear that it is Zionists who are guilty of conflation, in their blinkered antisemitic accusations towards us.”
Steve Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel, said: “The language used is extremely offensive and brings back all the old conspiracy theories. This woman may be a senior executive of STUC but this is the most inflammatory speech I have ever seen.
“She tried to justify a boycott against Israel by trying to separate Judaism from Israel. But it’s a Jewish country.”
When contacted by the JC, STUC said that Ms Senior was away on holiday.
Ephraim Borowski, chair of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said: “This is the same Mary Senior who said that she did not know enough about the situation to engage with the facts, yet after a one-week visit concludes that there is only one side to the conflict.”