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British and Australian trade unionists visit Israel and Palestine

Cross-posted from Eric Lee at TULIP

While some groups like the “Palestine Solidarity Campaign” organise trips to the region, only Trade Union Friends of Israel (TUFI) takes participants in its trips to visit both countries — Israel and Palestine.

TUFI missions allow trade unionists to meet with leaders and activists from the Histadrut, Israel’s national trade union centre, and the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU).

According a report in the Jewish Chronicle last week, the most recent TUFI trip involved 17 trade union leaders from the UK and Australia. Among the British unions sending participants were the Prison Officers Association, Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union, GMB and USDAW.

Among others, they met Histadrut leader Ofer Eini. According to the Chronicle report, “Mr Eini praised Tufi for leading the delegation at a time of violence between Israel and Hamas. Two members of the group had pulled out of the tour citing security fears. While in Rishon Le Zion the trade unionists were forced to take cover by the side of the road after an air raid siren went off.”

The Chronicle further reports:

Oliver Stockley von Statzer, a special projects officer for the Community Union — which represents steel workers, textiles workers and shop staff — said the trip had given him new insight into life for Israelis and Palestinians. He said: ‘My perceptions were changed entirely. Because I had not been to Israel before I only knew details from what the media portrays. It was interesting to meet Israelis and Palestinians and experience their views on the conflict and the possibility of a two-state solution.’ He said the experience had given him a greater understanding of the realities of life for Israelis living with the threat of Hamas rocket attacks. ‘It’s important that more people get involved in this sort of delegation to get more of an idea of what really happens,’ he added.

On the TUFI website, there’s a delegation blog with full details of what the participants saw and experienced in Israel and Palestine.