The Sydney Morning Herald today published the following response to attacks on the MUA by writer Paul Sheehan, widely reported as accepting free trips to Israel paid for by the Jewish Board of Deputies and Israeli foreign ministry.
Paul Sheehan's attack on me is of no concern, but his commentary on the Maritime Union is (''Beware the words of a wolf dressed in sheikh's clothing'', June 7). The waterfront strike he describes was a lockout. It was industrial mercenaries and goons who wore balaclavas and stormed the wharves with rottweilers, and it was the company and others against which the courts found a prima facie case of unlawful conspiracy.
Yet this does not compare to the Israeli attack on a peaceful aid flotilla carrying desperately needed cargo for Gaza.
At the rally I blamed the Israeli state - not the Jewish or Israeli people - for this crime against humanity in which at least nine innocent people were shot dead.
The moral authority on which the MUA stands is for the public to decide. Our position on Aboriginal rights, the Vietnam War, apartheid and innumerable other social justice issues has been absolved by history. Sheehan's attack on the union's members is shameful. Our union suffered the loss of one in eight seafarers on merchant vessels during World War II defending this country and the world against fascism.
Paul McAleer Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney branch secretary