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Town Council Motion on Israel-Palestine Conflict

From Patricia Guilfoyle

Sunday, 10 March 2024

Please find the full motion proposed by the 2 independent councillors Cllr Nikki Harvey and Cllr Patsi Guilfoyle.

We have both left the Labour Party sadly after the appalling responses from the LOTO and shadow front bench.

We support our local colleagues who have voted unanimously for our proposed motion, hopefully the more we voice calls for peace the more likely we will be heard. We just hope it is soon.

Hebden Royd Town Council Israel-Palestine Conflict Motion 06.03.24

We are calling for Hebden Royd Town Council to approve the below Motion regarding the current situation in Israel –Palestine.

Cllr Patsi Guilfoyle and Cllr Nikki Harvey are deeply concerned about the tragic situation in Israel-Palestine. This includes the taking of Israeli hostages, violations of international law, the devastating loss of life and the widespread ongoing human rights abuses of people in Palestine. As healthcare workers, we are deeply appalled at the targeting and destruction of healthcare services.

We unequivocally condemn the loss of life in both the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7th October 2023 and the ensuing and continuing attacks from Israel on Palestinian civilians and infrastructure.

In response we propose that HRTC adopts and supports the below motion while bearing in mind that we as a Town Council promote world peace.

This Council notes and acknowledges:

  • The impact that the conflict in the Middle East is having on many residents in Hebden Royd and other communities in Calderdale.
    In Hebden Royd people have family and friends in many parts of the world. What happens in Palestine and Israel matters to many if not all of us as humanitarians.
  • That there have been peaceful demonstrations in Hebden Royd.
    That the Council has heard the concerns of communities across the borough and joins with them in asking for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.
  • That we understand there are great differences in how people view the conflict and the solutions to bring peace to the area, but despite those differences we want to see peace, safety, dignity, and security across the region.
  • That we are appalled by the extreme violence and the thousands of civilian lives lost since 7 October 2023, and horrified by the events we have seen unfolding daily on our TV screens as people, including children, are killed, displaced and suffering. According to the House of Commons Library, UK Parliament (20.02.24; Israel Hamas Conflict: UK and international response), on 07.10.23 approximately 1200 Israeli civilians were killed, and 253 taken as hostages. Since then the Israeli offensive has resulted in over 29,000 Palestinians reported killed and 1.7 million of Gaza's 2.2 million population now displaced.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as of 28 January 2024, at least 10,000 of the people killed in Gaza since 7 October 2023 were children.

We are acutely aware of the extreme pressures and life-threatening stresses which are being experienced by healthcare workers in Gaza. Up to the 13th February 2024 the World Health Organisations has said there have been more than 300 attacks on healthcare facilities and 340
healthcare workers have died, 145 of those have been UN workers and many have been killed while treating patients. Out of 36 hospitals only 11 are partially functioning. Gaza's health service has been effectively dismantled by Israeli actions. This is a form of collective punishment which is prohibited by treaty in international conflicts by the Geneva Convention, of which the UK is a signatory.

The Council therefore resolves to:

  • Join other councils calling for an immediate permanent ceasefire, in order to facilitate an intense period of diplomacy, bring humanitarian aid into Palestine, and provide an opportunity to seek the immediate release of hostages.
  • Work together with key representatives and community leaders across the borough towards a common objective of ensuring that people can continue to feel safe in Hebden Royd and live without fear of intimidation, harassment, or hatred.
  • Continue to take a stand against Islamophobia, Antisemitism, and all forms of hatred.
  • Record its unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas against civilians in Israel. Record its unequivocal condemnation of the conduct of the Israeli government against civilians in Palestine.
  • Offer a kind and compassionate welcome to those displaced by the conflict, reaffirming our commitment as a place of sanctuary.
  • Calls on the UK government to:
  • Call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law.
  • To support the upholding of international law, with appropriate investigation, accountability for breaches and prosecution for war crimes.
  • Demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release and return of all hostages, proper access to food and water, medical supplies, and access to health services; and beyond that a lasting resolution to deliver peace and a long lasting two state solution that allows both states to live in peace.
  • Immediately reinstate United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) funding, allowing the agency to continue its vital work in preventing famine and disease in Palestine.
  • Suspend the licensing of UK military equipment to all parties involved in this conflict.
  • Call on Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice's provisional measures ruling and publicly support the work of the International Criminal Court.
  • Endorse a serious and concerted reinvigoration of international efforts for a two-state solution.
  • Use the UK Resettlement Scheme to allow a route to safety for those seeking refuge from the conflict.
  • Request that the borough's two MPs actively support the above actions.

Thank you to all concerned.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 12 March 2024

I'd just like to congratulate Nikki and Patsi for putting this motion to HRTC. It's somewhat bizarre that it requires a great deal of personal courage and firm adherence to humanitarian principles to raise a voice against the genocide we are witnessing in Gaza, but it does. 

Congratulations also on leaving the Labour Party. I imagine that must have been very painful but how anyone can continue to be active in a party led by a war criminal, has been so utterly disgusting in it's stance on Gaza and has literally persecuted Jewish people in the Labour Party who support the Palestinians is beyond me.

As you might see from other contributions of mine on Gaza I do not agree with a call for a two state solution but that might be for a fraternal discussion down the line. It doesn't matter here.

In the meantime, all the best with your motion and thank you. I hope you will be able to report back here on  how it went.

From Alan Truman

Monday, 25 March 2024

It's a shame Allen Keep has a propensity for party bashing and attempting to shame individuals for "not going to a specific protest in Todmorden". Well done to the Town Council in passing this motion. I'm assuming this means it passed with support from both Labour and the Liberal Democrat's. 

It's worth saying this was after the Labour ran Calderdale Council passed (with cross party support) an almost identical motion weeks earlier. This is following statements made in support of Gaza and Israel in the days following the October attacks, flying of the peace flag and Calderdale Cabinet member Jenny Lynn (Halifax Friends of Palestine) organising rallyies, support protests, talks and more up and down the valley, including in Hebden Bridge.

Well done to local Labour for showing solidarity with the Palestinians and the plight of Gaza.

I felt correcting the record after Allen's comment was much needed.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 2 April 2024

Alan Truman. At this particular point in the Genocidal war waged by the state of Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza it is strange to see your priority is to publicly go for me with an accusation of "party bashing and shaming individuals" Am I really the problem here?

My instinct is to ignore you but you have named me in a group where I frequently post. I have much more important things to do around Gaza like, today, Saturday 30th March, attending a fantastic and inspiring march and demonstration in Halifax. Did you manage to be there? If you did, you will have heard the vocal criticism of Keir Starmer ring through the streets of the largely Muslim community in Park Ward. You will have heard a common theme at the rally, that we all have to do more to defend the Palestinians of Gaza from Genocide and we can't rely on our elected representatives to lead this struggle. The spirit and sense of togetherness was moving and vibrant including speeches outside Halifax's main mosque from members of the local community and a superb speech from a Jewish comrade from Bradford who argued that "never again" does not apply exclusively to Jewish people. So having been active today I will return to the keyboard and respond to you.

Before I do, a "common ground" question - do you believe a genocide is taking place in Gaza?

You refer to me having a "propensity for party bashing". You are correct. I have been bashing the Tory party and various right wing/fascist parties as long as I can remember (a very long time). At the moment, I spend a lot of time bashing Likud and fascist Zionist parties in Israel. Is that a problem? Of course not, because you mean bashing the Labour Party, don't you?

Is this not allowed Alan? Do we have to agree with Labour no matter what it does?

In my contribution you are responding to, I accuse Starmer of direct approval of Genocide (happy to give precise examples) and therefore I prefer to call him a war criminal. I also disagree with his purging of those who disagree with him, especially around the Issue of Israel and particularly his disproportionate attacks on Jewish people within the Labour Party who have been disciplined for anti-Semitism (which is unbelievable in itself).

Is it ok with you that as an anti-Zionist, Pro-Palestinian activist, who has also fought anti-Semitism all my life that I chose to do this?
You're a party member (I assume), do you have a response to those criticisms of Starmer? Can you defend Labour's scuppering of an SNP parliamentary motion because it referred to condemnation of the disproportionate collective punishment of Palestinians for instance? Are you comfortable with that because I think many, many, Labour Party members and activists are not but remain silent within a climate of fear, and, as far as elected representatives in particular are concerned, are correspondingly largely absent from public opposition to Israel's genocide, including locally - which I will come back to.

So, let's deal with your other assertion i.e. attempting to shame individuals for (your quotation marks next) "not going to a specific demo in Todmorden". I don't think this will make sense to readers without its context which you have not provided. Lack of context is a great weapon in spin and your assertion here, which is actually a lie, is like something Elon Levy would recognise. Anyway, the context is a previous exchange we had on a Facebook Page called This is Todmorden (if anyone really wants to check this out in detail and is a member of the page you can find it by searching "Gaza"). It is a revealing conversation.

You responded to a post of mine, detailing (as I do every week on This is Todmorden and the Hebden Bridge Facebook page) a list of actions and activities people can attend if they wish to add their voices against Israel's genocide. On this occasion (and I posted a similar thing on Hebden Bridge FB page a while back), I named all the Labour Councillors in Todmorden (the vast majority) noting that I hadn't seen any on the regular demonstration in their town and asked for their views on Gaza (there has been no motion in relation to Gaza at Tod Town Council that I am aware of). I wrote this: "I thought elected Labour representatives would find it imperative and indeed their moral duty to speak out against apartheid, ethnic cleansing, occupation and genocide. I don't recall Labour being so reticent about Ukraine for example".

Is that wrong Alan?

You took exception to that post, which is fine. You also said, which is not so fine, that I was "deranged", was "a sad little man", that I had a "non-opinion", "I should get a life" and that I was "virtue signalling" I asked you to substantiate the latter, and feel free to do so here but there has been silence from you until now with thankfully more appropriate language (perhaps you feel you need to behave a little better here?).

In any case, you argued then that I should focus on the Tories rather than Labour. Why? The Tories are doing exactly what we would expect which is not true of Labour. Why would I give Labour a free pass on supporting Genocide? You then queried why I was giving so much attention to Gaza rather than other conflicts. This is, of course, straight from the Zionist playbook, you are "singling out little Israel" with the implication that the reason for that is Anti-Semitism.

The truth however is that what is happening in Gaza is unique in the world at the moment and has the attention of the entire planet. More importantly, it is happening in our name and indeed, as I am sure you know Alan, this country is historically responsible for the creation of the Zionist state in the first place. So, sorry Alan, my fire will be concentrated on a state with oppression written into its DNA, a state that has relied on terror, apartheid and occupation to maintain its colonial supremacy over an indigenous people and like colonial settler states before it is now using mass starvation and genocide to retain its hegemony.

Anything you have difficulty with there Alan?

You also argued that perhaps people may find other ways of protesting or opposing what Israel is doing in Gaza than demonstrating outside Todmorden Town Hall. That's fair enough but somehow you fail to note on this page that I completely agreed with you about this and stated that I respected people's choice to take whatever action they could or felt appropriate to them. That's not exactly "shaming" is it?

I then said this: "However, this is no ordinary issue, we are witnessing the attempted destruction of a people. That places a moral duty on all of us to speak out and do more. Silence unfortunately is complicity. I expect our elected representatives to speak out publicly, to show where they stand, and to show their support for Palestinians and those people already taking a stand wherever they are in their community. I particularly expect that of Labour representatives and especially those who claim to be on the left"

Is there something wrong with that Alan?

Your extremely clumsy reference to me shaming individuals for "not going to a specific protest in Todmorden" will make no sense to readers here unless they have seen my post but refers, I assume, to my account on the Todmorden page of an exchange I did have with a Todmorden Councillor who would see themselves on the left of the Party and another Labour Party member who is an avid Starmer supporter. This was not on the Todmorden public page (as no councillor has responded there of course) but on the private page of a friend and comrade of mine in Todmorden.

In this conversation, I made similar points to those above i.e. Labour's and especially Starmer's complicity in Genocide and the lack of response (complicit silence) against that genocide from local labour representatives in our community. In private, a truer picture of the animosity in the Party (even amongst the left) towards those fighting for Gaza and criticizing Starmer and Labour came through strongly.

Hamas, apparently, were responsible for what is happening there, with not a word of condemnation for Israel (with the comical accusation that these "fundamentalist nutters" were my friends). I even got a dollop of the disgusting lie that the appalling deaths in Gaza are as a result of Hamas using the people as human shields. Staggering, really staggering. When I reacted by saying, amongst other things, that the human shield argument was Zionist filth, which it is, I was then accused by the Labour Councillor from Todmorden of anti-Semitism. Clearly, and incredibly, the Councillor misses the fundamental distinction between Judaism, a religion, and Zionism, a political ideology of settler colonialism and assumes that criticism of Zionism is therefore anti-Semitic.

Do you think I am an anti-Semite, Alan?

Frankly, I was shocked that this response came from a socialist. But, in a way, even more shocking was the Councillor's assertion that even if they had attended the Todmorden demonstrations "it would make no difference" (which is the reference/quote you should have used if you were being honest). Just reflect on that. It's a complete abandonment of socialist principles is it not? What is a statement like that saying to the people from the Todmorden community who have been protesting outside the town hall every Sunday since October? What would a similar statement say to the hundreds of people who attended the magnificent march today? Perhaps such statements explain why so many Labour supporters in Muslim communities feel completely betrayed and abandoned by Labour and so many Jewish activists in Labour from the great socialist Jewish tradition feel under attack.

Now for the local record you want to correct and which you claim is so laudable. The initial statement from the council was appalling. Whether you agree with that or not it certainly was not a statement in support of the Palestinians of Gaza who had already been openly threatened with genocide by statements such as this from defence minister Yoav Gallant on the 10th October while Palestinians were already pulling innocent civilians from the rubble of Northern Gaza.

"We are imposing a complete siege on [Gaza]. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel – everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly,"

As you know, Starmer was asked about the siege of Gaza a short time later and whether Israel was justified in taking these actions, to which the human rights lawyer said that Israel "did have that right".

Then you mention Jenny Lynn, Councillor for Park Ward in Halifax and Chair of Halifax Friends of Palestine. I have nothing but admiration and respect for Jenny. In my comments on the Todmorden page I carefully used the phrase (with honourable exceptions) when it comes to Labour representatives and Jenny is one such, an exception that proves the rule if you will.

I can't speak for Jenny but I suspect that she would say that the events up and down the valley have far from been led by her alone. She has certainly had nothing to do with the Todmorden demonstrations as far as I am aware and my guess is that everything, she has done is despite the party she is in and not because of it.

Aside from the grassroots actions up and down the valley led, in fact, by people who are often not in the Labour Party at all and certainly not elected representatives of it. Labour has managed to move a motion in the full council 5 months into the genocide. Are we supposed to applaud that? It took 2 Labour party members to leave the Labour Party over Gaza for a motion to be presented to Hebden Royd Town Council even later, and still nothing in Todmorden.

I don't think congratulations are in order and your attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear is really quite ridiculous.

I hear stories up and down the country, of pro-Palestinian activists being blocked and silenced by Labour in council chambers. I hear of a climate where good people are scared to speak out because of Labour's appalling, disgusting position on Gaza. I've seen numerous reports of Palestinian activists being heckled and attacked by Labour Party members, of being thrown out of Labour meetings and Labour Controlled council chambers. Indeed, here in Calderdale, a Muslim Palestinian supporter was physically ejected from the chamber for shouting criticism of Labour's stance on Gaza.

Do you defend this, Alan? Are you proud of your party's position on Gaza?
Feel free to respond Alan. Sorry to be a virtue signalling, deranged and sad little man but what can you do?

Ask yourself that question.

See also

HebWeb News: Town Council backs calls for immediate cease fire in Gaza

HebWeb Forum: Gaza (Jan 2024)

HebWeb Forum: Israel and Gaza (Oct- Nov 2023)