Monday 29 November 2021

Solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters on UN International Day of Solidarity

Today - 29th November - is the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.  ATUC welcomes the Palestinian flag being flown from the Townhouse today to mark this important date, and sends solidarity to all our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Messages from Palestine at ATUC anti-racism/ anti-fascism event

On Saturday 27th November we came together for our annual St Andrew’s Day ‘Anti-racism/ Anti-fascism’ event, this year held online again due to Covid precautions. Unfortunately, our two speakers invited to speak on Palestine were unable to join due to technical problems so we are posting the information they planned to share with us here. 

Jamal Juma: Plant a Tree in Palestine

Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall), and coordinator of the Land Defense Coalition had planned to join us to speak about the ongoing grassroots Plant a Tree in Palestine campaign.  Today, Palestinians are resisting an escalation of Israel’s land theft, settler violence and relentless destruction of Palestinian agriculture and way of life. The Plant a Tree in Palestine, a joint project of Stop the JNF and Stop the Wall, is a powerful tool of Palestinian resistance and serves three key functions:

  • Building Solidarity: Planting trees within affected communities conveys a strong sense of international solidarity, of people not being alone and forgotten, building Palestinian sumud.
  • Reclaiming the Land: Farmers being supported to plant trees counters the Israeli drive to detach people from their land.
  • Benefiting the Environment: The trees planted are natural to the region, unlike many JNF trees, alien to the land. The trees planted as part of the project benefit the environment and have deep cultural and historic significance.

ATUC are actively supporting the Plant a Tree campaign and are supporting SPSC Aberdeen in awareness-raising and building support for the campaign in the North East. If you would like to find out more, or your branch would like to get involved please email

Kate Ramsden: SPSC Aberdeen

Kate Ramsden had intended to speak on Saturday on behalf of SPSC Aberdeen , but was one of the thousands across the country left without power following Storm Arwen! Her speech is printed below.

"Kate Ramsden, proud to speak on behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and bringing international solidarity to all oppressed people across the world.

Because Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland has a proud history of international solidarity.

Back at the height of apartheid in South Africa, Aberdeen was one of nine cities in the UK to give the freedom of the city to Nelson Mandela, then a prisoner on Robben Island.

That decision was not taken with the weight of popular opinion behind it. Far from it. It is only with hindsight that we see the fundamental historic importance of that decision in contributing to the downfall of South African apartheid.

No, that decision was taken because it was the right thing to do. The right thing to oppose the terrible oppression of people half way across the world. The right thing to stand up for justice and equality for all citizens of South Africa.

Now we welcome the City of Aberdeen flying the Palestinian flag on Monday which is the UN Day of Solidarity with the people of Palestine. A people subjected to oppression and apartheid by the Israeli state.

Men, women and children living in a state of terror at the hands of Israel – an occupying state – denying the people of Palestine their human rights – including their right to life and freedom.

An injustice every bit as heinous as the oppression of Black citizens in South Africa.

As the great Nelson Mandela said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

We have seen over the past year the terrible assaults on Gaza. During the Israeli bombardment in May, the latest in many assaults on Gaza, 256 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children and 40 women, and almost 2,000 others were injured.

Let me repeat that. 66 children. No threat to the state of Israel. Their numbers adding to the toll of over 500 children killed in the bombardment of Gaza in 2014.

Then there are the home demolitions in the West Bank. Thousands of people living under the threat by the Israeli government of their houses being demolished.

Waiting for the soldiers to arrive and force them out then charge them for the cost of demolishing their own homes or forcing them to demolish them themselves.

Can you imagine? Being forced with your family and your children to leave your home and watch it being demolished or having to do it yourselves? Terrorising and dehumanising.

Israel has been using home demolitions as a method of warfare since the Nakba, which built its existence on the destruction of at least 531 Palestinian towns and villages, the killing of some 15,000 Palestinians, and the forcible displacement of almost 900,000 refugees and internally displaced people

Over all these years since then, home demolitions have continued, justified by Israel as a ‘military necessity’ - especially in the Gaza Strip, and on administrative grounds. But this is collective punishment – a war crime.

This has gained momentum over the past few years, particularly in Jerusalem, as a subtle method to pursue the ongoing transfer of Palestinians out of Jerusalem

This amounts to gross violations of international law.

Our St Andrew’s Day rally condemns the oppression of all peoples on the basis of their ethnicity. The treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel is both racist and apartheid.

We call on our Scottish and UK government to condemn it unequivocally and to take steps to end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people by ending our political support for Israel and ending our arms trade with Israel.

Our UK government need to find the moral fibre and the courage to stand up to the oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel in the same way as Aberdeen City once stood up to the oppression of Black South Africans by their white oppressors.

We salute the flying of the Palestinian flag on Monday but we call for more to be done to stand against the oppression of the Palestinian people, the murder and imprisonment of Palestinian people including so many children and the everyday terrorism that they experience though poverty and intimidation by Israeli soldiers and Israeli laws over which they have no control.

We see an awakening by communities, by trade unionists and by citizens everywhere and a recognition that they need to stand up and be counted against the oppression and daily injustices faced by the Palestinian people – just as we did for the Black citizens of South Africa when we gave Nelson Mandela the freedom of the city of Aberdeen.

Just as we boycotted South African produce, just as we used this to highlight the need for radical change in South Africa, so we must embrace BDS – Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel – in support of the people of Palestine.

Just as we must stand up against the injustice that we see all across the world – from the Kurds in Turkey, to Afghanistan to Syria to the Yemen, to the refugee crisis on our own borders – we must stand up for the people of Palestine. We must reject any fears that criticising Israel’s racist oppression of the Palestinians is in any way antisemitic. Palestine solidarity movements here and across the world number many Jewish comrades amongst their numbers and many brave Israeli citizens. They stand with us to raise our voices in condemnation of the oppression and occupation by the state of Israel and to demand freedom and justice for the people of Palestine."