Somewhere in the middle of England lies a city of around 350,000 residents called Leicester. They have a Premier League football team and host the largest annual Carribbean parade in the UK outside of London (apparently). For fans of documentaries and British films it is the birthplace of Sir David & Lord Richard Attenborough as well as the Elephant Man Joseph Merrick.
It is also the city that has just voted to boycott Israeli goods emanating from the settlements.
The overwhelmingly Labour council has voted to do so despite the fact that the head of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has said that he is against a boycott of Israel.
The council have gone ahead and done it anyway. This is a Labour council of 55 seats, 51 of which are held by Labour councillors. Clearly in Leicester the views of the party leader are of little concern.
Surely it is no coincidence that this move comes just as Miliband is due to give a speech at the annual dinner of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.
Councillor Mohammed Dawood proposed the motion saying;
“I know the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) will not be trembling in its shoes and neither will the Israeli state be worried by what we are saying…It will show Leicester City Council stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine like we stood against the apartheid system in South Africa because these people are going through the same thing.”
Of course this is a move that is without teeth. I’m not sure what on earth it is that a council buys anyway.
This decision comes as thousands of Gazans are wondering how they are going to make it through the Winter. Their homes having been destroyed thanks to Hamas’ insistence on fighting a war over the Summer. Not to mention the trauma caused to Israelis from having rockets fired at them and terrorists popping out of tunnels by their homes.
But what passed through my mind on hearing this news is that it is a classic example of just how much easier it is for people to attack Israel rather than help Palestinians. Not a single Palestinian will benefit from this decision and Israel hasn’t been hurt at all, but a bunch of councillors from Leicester will be patting themselves on the back as if they’ve done something valuable.
I suggest that if they wish to genuinely do something useful for Palestinians they try raising money for them and then donate it to a charity that won’t be using that cash to buy guns. If they can find one.
If supporters of Palestinians stopped pretending that being anti-Israel is the same as being pro-Palestinian and that a vote or a tweet or a demonstration is the same as providing genuine aid and help then this conflict would have been solved a long time ago.
Assuming that that’s what they want.