Brighton branch’s withering letter tells general secretary to stop failing Palestinians and disrespecting members, demands retraction of ‘appalling’ union statement and tells her to start supporting the ‘victims of racism’ against the ‘racists’
The Unite union’s Brighton branch has today sent a withering letter to general secretary Sharon Graham demanding that she stop ignoring official union policy – and start supporting oppressed Palestinians, as well as retracting a statement by the union that has appalled members and activists by its asymmetrical treatment of Israelis and Palestinians.
The letter also condemns Graham’s failure to properly speak out against Israel’s bombing attacks against civilians and her decision to ban showings on Unite premises of a film and book exposing the smears and sabotage of the Labour right and its weaponisation of antisemitism to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the left.
128 Theobalds Road,
London WC1X 8TN
Dear Ms Graham,
The Failure of Unite To Give Any Support to the Palestinians, Contrary to Union Policy, as the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are Being Slaughtered
Gail Cartmail, Unite’s Assistant General Secretary, wrote to me on your behalf on 30 August 2023, stating that:
“Unite as a union is outstanding in both our commitment to anti-racism and solidarity with the Palestinian cause, actions speak louder than words.”
This may have been true under Len McCluskey and previous general secretaries, however it is not true under your leadership.
We wish to endorse the letter to you of 17 October from Peter Kavanagh, the Regional Secretary of London & Eastern Region, asking why you did nothing to build or advertise for the national march in support of the Palestinians last week and why you have done nothing to build the march this coming today.
We also ask you to withdraw the appalling statement that Unite issued on 16 October and to ask:
i. Why was there no recognition that the Palestinians are an oppressed people and Israel is an apartheid state which came into being as a Jewish State in 1948 by expelling three-quarters of a million inhabitants.
ii. Why was there no recognition that the attack by the Palestinian resistance on nearby settlements on 7 October was provoked by a 17 year long siege of Gaza which has led to thousands of Palestinian deaths, both directly from Israeli missiles and drones and indirectly from starvation, lack of medicine and destroyed health facilities.
iii. Why was it that your statement ‘unreservedly’ condemned and expressed its ‘revulsion at the recent appalling acts of violence by Hamas’ against what you termed innocent civilians in Israel whilst only managing to ‘deplore’ the deaths of Palestinians from Israel’s merciless bombing of the Gaza Strip? Are Israeli Jewish lives more important than Palestinian lives?
iv. On 17 October, having already attacked the Al-Alhi hospital previously and having warned its Director to vacate the hospital in its entirety, Israel launched a missile attack on it killing in excess of 500 people and injuring hundreds more. I assume that you don’t buy into the fiction that the victims of the bombing, the Palestinians, were responsible for their own deaths?
v. Why was there no mention of the fact that imposing a food, water and electricity blockade of the Gaza Strip could and has led to further loss of life? This is a war crime yet nowhere in your abysmal statement is there any mention of this.
vi. Although we too deplore the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian fighters we also note that they attacked and defeated Israeli military installations surrounding Gaza. We also note the attempts of Israel’s propagandists to suggest that the resistance fighters had severed the heads of babies.
vii. We further note the testimony of Yasmin Porat who was captured by Palestinian fighters at Kibbutz Be’eri that the Palestinians treated them humanely and that many of the captured Israelis were killed in crossfire by Israeli soldiers ‘rescuing’ them.
viii. Why did the Unite statement condemn the taking of hostages by the Palestinians when thousands of Palestinians are also hostages inside Israel’s prisons? These include children as young as 12. Over a thousand Palestinians are Administrative Detainees, i.e. detained indefinitely without trial.
ix. Clearly you are unaware that in the West Bank Palestinians are subject to military law and military courts, where there is a 99.7% conviction rate whereas Jewish settlers are subject to civil law.
x. We also note that you were responsible for the ban by Unite on the showing of the film Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie and the book Weaponising Anti-Semitism by Asa Winstanley which exposed how Corbyn had been systematically undermined by an ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign by supporters of Israel.
xi. Despite Gail Cartmail denying that your ban on the Corbyn film was based on advice from the far-right racist Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, I note that there has been no denial of the CAA’s allegation that it entered into correspondence with you about banning the film. Perhaps, in the name of transparency you could release that correspondence so all union members can see it?
We understand that Unite, in conjunction with the TUC is planning a demonstration for peace in the Middle East. This is unacceptable. The lack of peace has root causes, namely Israeli settler colonialism and the apartheid society that the Zionist movement created.
Any demonstration should be called around support for the Palestinians against their oppressors and not equate the victims of racism with the racists.
I look forward to an early reply and your agreement to abide by Unite policy on Palestine
Tony Greenstein, Secretary
Michael Noble, Assistant Secretary
Anne Mitchell, Minutes Secretary,
Gemma Noble Equalities Officer
Sheila Hall, former Campaigns Officer
Michael Foulkes Member
Georgina Bassett Member
Oscar Belmonte Member
Rob Borland Member
Ben Armstrong Unite SE/6406 Hospitality branch and former Secretary Unite SE 6246
Sharon Graham has a poor record on racism and Palestine within Unite, using proxies to order the cancellation of showings of the film ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn/The Big Lie’, which exposes the political abuse of antisemitism accusations against left-wingers in the Labour party and discussion of Asa Winstanley’s forensic book Weaponising Antisemitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn. Proxies were similarly despatched to try, unsuccessfully, to cancel a Unite ‘fringe’ event at Labour’s conference earlier this month in support of Palestinians.
The union has banned showings of the film in any of its buildings, despite widespread interest from members. The weaponisation of antisemitism against the left for factional purposes was confirmed even by the Starmer-commissioned Forde inquiry, but its inconvenient findings have been ignored by the party regime.
Her ally Tony Seaman was also allowed to stand in the union’s executive elections despite Unite having agreed with complainants that he had made racist remarks. Another ally had posted racist images about refugees, but was allowed to stand before stepping down when Skwawkbox highlighted the union’s action. Another ally stood despite having paid £7,000 to settle a case over sexual harassment of his wife’s carer.
Her tenure as Unite boss has been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including alleged destruction of evidence against her husband in misogyny and bullying complaints. She is currently being sued, along with an ally and the union, by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for defamation.
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