Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Gaza peace rally cannot afford to take sides

As a trade unionist, I was already making plans to attend Saturday's rally before I had even finished reading the communique from the NIC-ICTU, only to be disappointed by the closing line.

I object to Peter Bunting's wording that the rally was "support for the Palestinian people under siege in Gaza". I am fully supportive of a rally for peace in Gaza, but no right-thinking person can support a rally with such a one-sided mantra.

It is not for the ICTU to use my membership money to drive an agenda that refuses to recognise the suffering that has affected non-Palestinians as well.

A rally to support a resolution and peace, yes. A rally to support the rights of people to work and exist, yes. Stop the attacks by both sides, yes. But for the ICTU to subliminally wave the battle-flag of religious fundamentalist groups like Hamas is a betrayal of true trade union and socialist ethics.

This rally will alienate much of the trade union membership in Northern Ireland, will be a PR own goal and hijacked by republicans who will ride in the slipstream of an out-of-step ICTU. Considering our own bloody past, the associations and alignments violent Irish nationalists and Ulster nationalists/loyalists have made with Palestine and Israel threaten to open up old sectarian sores in our own country.

PAUL STEWART

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