Israel and The British Left: The Great Betrayal Revisited

An article from earlier this year continues to provoke discussion, but it should not poison other de

It is difficult to know what to do about people visiting this site who hide behind their anonymity to make obsessive and personal comments. We do not have a policy on these so-called "trolls". Perhaps we should. Much of this comment would never have seen the light of day in the pre-internet age because there is only a certain amount of space on the letters page. Magazines and newspapers do their readers the courtesy of making a selection of the best letters to save them from the green-ink merchants.

I have long believed that we insult our readers by allowing a free-for-all on the web. But it is extremely time-consuming to constantly moderate the trolls.

However, the New Statesman Investigates section is too important for this. I have decided it does decent readers of the website no favours for us to get involved in discussions about articles published several weeks ago.

I have therefore taken the unusual step of removing comments by "redharry" about The Great Betrayal article I wrote from Israel, which was published on 15 May 2008. The 168 comments the original article received discussed the issue in great detail. The article is still available for anyone to read.

There is no real obligation to engage with people who refuse to write under their real identity, but I do not want to stifle debate.

So here, once more, is "redharry" on his favourite subject:

Bright's trip to Israel was bankrolled by BICOM founder and backer Poju Zabludowicz.

'Poju Zabludowicz, whom the Sunday Times reveals has donated £70,000 to the Conservative party over the past three years, is also one of the financial supporters of the Conservative Friends of Israel, which has also given money to the party. He is chairman of the Britain-Israel Communications and Research group, BICOM, which works directly with the Israeli embassy.'

[See New Statesman article Kosher Conspiracy.]

Today, the family fortune is managed by Shlomo's son Poju, who has kept a finger in the arms pie through the munitions manufacturer Pocal.

Poju Zabludowicz got his money from the family firm Soltam

Soltam is an Israeli company which operates both on the military market and the civilian market. Its military expertise is artillery systems, cannons and ammunition. It is a subsidiary of the Israeli defense firm Elbit.

Military products:

* Tank guns

o Merkava smoothbore 120 mm main gun

* Artillery - towed gun and self-propelled gunshowitzers

o M-68 towed 155 mm howitzer.

o M-71 towed 155 mm howitzer.

o Rascal self-propelled 155 mm howitzer

o Slammer (Sholef) - Merkava-based self-propelled 155 mm howitzer.

* Mortars

o Merkava 60 mm internal mortar.

o Cardom 120 mm self-propelled mortar.

o Dragon EFSS (Cardom, version for the USMC).

o M-65 120 mm mortar.

o M-66 160 mm mortar.

* Ammunition

o Mortar shells (60 mm, 81 mm, 120 mm, 160 mm)

o Artillery shells (155 mm , 175 mm)

Civilian products:

* Cooking pots

I suppose Bright will claim that his trip was paid for with the proceeds of the sale of cooking pots.

Please feel free to carry on the discussion here, but please keep to the point when discussing the New Statesman investigations.

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.