ASLEF union President should not have compared Israel to Franco's Spain

To Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF


Dear Mr Whelan,


I was distressed to read in the Jewish Chronicle ( ) that your union’s President, Tosh McDonald, gave a speech at the International Brigade Memorial Trust wreath-laying ceremony on Saturday where he made an analogy between the struggle against fascism in the Spanish Civil War and the present day conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.


On every level it is profoundly offensive and hurtful to draw a comparison between Franco’s fascists and Israel, a democracy defending itself against terrorist attacks and engaged in a peace process with the Palestinians. It is particularly upsetting given the disproportionate role played by Jewish volunteers in the International Brigade, and the role of the Nazi Condor Legion on the side of Franco.


I understand the Jewish representative at the event refused to lay his wreath in protest, so Mr McDonald’s remarks had the effect of excluding the Jewish representative from an event commemorating a struggle against fascism that many Jews participated in.


Please can you ask Mr McDonald to apologise for the distress he caused and desist from making inappropriate comparisons between the contemporary conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and the historic struggle against fascism and Nazism, in which the Jewish people and the international left and trade union movement stood shoulder to shoulder?