Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is an activist organisation in England and Wales that promotes solidarity with the Palestinian people. It was founded in 1982 during the build-up to the first war between Israel and Lebanon, and was incorporated in the UK in 2004 as Palestine Solidarity Campaign Ltd.
The PSC says it campaigns for peace and justice for Palestinians, in support of international law and human rights. PSC states that it is "opposed to all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice and Islamophobia". It has stated that it opposes both "Israel’s occupation and its aggression against neighbouring states" Whilst recognising differences between apartheid-era South Africa and Israel, PSC promotes the boycotting of Israeli goods as a method that it believes was previously successful in achieving political change. The PSC's stated goals include the right of return for Palestinians and Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. The PSC has criticised Israel's practices when arresting children.
PSC chapters have run workshops on such questions as "How to deal with Zionists' arguments; what to say to those who call us anti-Semitic" and "What are settlements? What will boycotting Israeli goods achieve?"
Founders and leaders
The PSC has an executive committee consisting of 20 members (plus two members representing the PSC’s Trade Union Advisory Committee), who are elected at the Annual General Meeting by PSC members. Its headquarters are in London. There are four staff members. The organisation relies on volunteers to perform many tasks, such as running campaigns and managing branch offices.
One of the PSC's founders, Tony Greenstein, is also a founder of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods.
Most of PSC's directors have not been of Palestinian or Middle Eastern descent. Its current Chair is Hugh Lanning and its current Director is Ben Jamal.
The PSC has about 40 branches in England, Scotland and Wales, a list of which is kept on its website. The organisation's activity in Scotland is co-ordinated by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a separate organisation that was set up in late 2001 by a group of established Irish human rights and community activists.
The PSC website lists many patrons of the organisation, including the following individuals:
Following remarks at a pro-Palestinian lobby when it was reported that she said of Palestinian suicide bombers: "If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself", PSC patron Baroness Jenny Tonge was criticised for rationalising suicide bombings. In a subsequent BBC interview, she stated "I was just trying to say how, having seen the violence and the humiliation and the provocation that the Palestinian people live under every day and have done since their land was occupied by Israel, I could understand and was trying to understand where suicide bombers were coming from." Adverse comment was aroused and on 23 January 2004 Charles Kennedy, then leader of the Liberal Democrats, asked her to resign from his party's frontbench.
PSC patron Caryl Churchill's play Seven Jewish Children, was written in response to 2009's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and first performed in London’s Royal Court Theatre in February 2009. It received a mixed critical reception. The full text of the play and links to a number of comments about it are available online.
Trade union affiliates
- Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen – ASLEF
- Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union – BECTU
- Fire Brigades Union – FBU
- GMB (trade union) – GMB
- National Union of Teachers – NUT
- Public and Commercial Services Union – PCS
- National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers – RMT
- Transport Salaried Staffs' Association – TSSA
- Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians – UCATT
- University and College Union – UCU
Boycott Israeli goods campaign
PSC has officially supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement since 2001. A study published in The Jewish Chronicle has been reported as recognising the PSC as one of the main proponents of the BDS movement in Britain.
The PSC organised disruptions of a performance by the Israel Philharmonic at the Royal Albert Hall in February 2011. BBC Radio 3, which was broadcasting the concert live, was forced to suspend the broadcast several times, over the protesters' shouting and heckling.
On 28 May 2012, when Israel's Habima theatre company performed at the London Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the PSC and other BDS groups organised a protest outside the building. On 29 May 2012, BBC Radio 4 reported that Habima was "being criticised for performing to Jewish audiences in the Occupied Territories." A PSC press release corrected the report, saying that it was criticising Habima "for performing in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank." After six months of pressure by PSC, the BBC Trust upheld the PSC's complaint.
The PSC waged a two-year campaign to block an EU trade agreement, the ACAA, that recognised Israeli pharmaceutical standards as equal to those in Europe. The agreement was ultimately passed in October 2012.
The PSC protested against an Israeli LGBT event in London, calling it "yet another attempt by Israel to co-opt the LGBT community into its pinkwashing campaign, which aims to re-brand Israel as a haven for queers while drawing attention away from its numerous crimes against the Palestinian people".
PSC has supported the BDS campaign against the French company Veolia. The campaign has cost Veolia several lucrative contracts in Europe, including a £485 million waste management contract in West London. Veolia has been criticised by the BDS movement because of its activities in Palestine and Israel. The allegations made included providing infrastructure and services to illegal settlements and racist recruitment policies.
The PSC led a campaign to block the Israeli government's tourism bureau from advertising in British newspapers, its argument being that Israel was misrepresenting Palestinian territories as its own.
The PSC promoted the play I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You, which was staged on 17 January 2013.
Related groups and individuals
Red Card Israeli Racism is an offshoot UK-based group openly committed to BDS. Its membership is drawn from the ranks of other BDS groups, among them PSC.
PSC cohosted the 2011 event "Complicity in Oppression: Do the Media Aid Israel?" with Amnesty International UK and the Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO).
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