[Boycott - Economic - Europe]
NUJ votes to boycott Israeli goods
Stephen Brook, The Guardian
13 April 2007
This ADM [annual delegate meeting] calls for a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions and the TUC [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations.
The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon.
Today's vote was carried 66 to 54 - a result that met with gasps and a small amount of applause from the union delegates present.
The vote came during a series of motions on international affairs and reads: "This ADM [annual delegate meeting] calls for a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions and the TUC [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations."
The motion was originally brought by the union's South Yorkshire branch and opposed by the Cumberland branch, which said it was too political and was not tied closely enough to journalistic matters.
After a show of hands twice failed to give a clear result, union scrutineers were called in and the doors to the conference room closed.
The vote on the motion was taken after it was split from a larger motion that condemned the "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel" last year.
This motion, known as Composite B in Order Paper 4, was carried by a large majority and also condemned the "slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF's [Israeli Defense Forces] continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah".
The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories.
The union's national executive committee has been instructed to support organisations including the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice in Palestine and the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.
Israeli boycott does not affect reporting - UK journalists
Last week's decision by the National Unionist of Journalists (NUJ) to join the international boycott of Israeli goods does not affect reporting about the Middle East, according to the union's general secretary Jeremy Dear.
"The decision made by elected representatives at our conference was a decision of NUJ members as trade unionists and as citizens to try to help put pressure on the Israeli government," Dear said.
He said the aim of the motion adopted at its annual delegate was to press Israel to reverse its refusal to pay collected taxes, its refusal to recognize Palestinian journalists carrying an international press card and the damage done by its occupation.
"The boycott call has nothing to do with reporting. The NUJ is not telling members how to report Israel - beyond its permanent injunctions to members to report independently and fairly on all matters, and not to produce racist or discriminatory copy," he said.
The bombing of Al-Manar is a clear demonstration that Israel has a policy of using violence to silence media it does not agree with
International Federation of Journalists
The general secretary said that Britain's biggest union of journalists with some 35,000 member "has not and never would adopt a line on how any issue should be reported."
"We stand for free reporting and free speech - and we criticize those, including the Palestinian and Israeli authorities, when they act against journalists' freedom to report," he said.
His comments come as the Israeli ambassador to Britain, Zvi Heifetz, was reported Thursday to have accused the NUJ of "petty, one-sided politics" by backing the boycott campaign.
But Dear insisted that it was "not, as some critics have indicated, an institutional boycott." The NUJ, he said, will "continue to seek to work with all its sister unions in the region, be they Israelis or Palestinians."
"The NUJ has sought at every opportunity to find ways of making journalists on both sides of the divide work together to advance common issues that concern journalists," he said.
The general secretary has also recently written to the Israeli Embassy in London in protest at the targeting of the media in the current escalation of violence in the Middle East.
His letter comes in support of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which condemned the Israeli bombing of the Lebanese broadcaster Al-Manar, warning that the attack follows a pattern of media targeting that threatens the lives of media staff.
"The bombing of Al-Manar is a clear demonstration that Israel has a policy of using violence to silence media it does not agree with," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White warned.
Letter to The Guardian
We welcome the courageous decision of the National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli goods (Letters, April 23). Given Israel's contempt for international law, with the complicity of the US and UK governments, pressure has to be increased by civil society if justice is to be achieved. A boycott of Israeli goods is a legitimate form of grassroots action and is particularly appropriate as Israel is destroying the Palestinian economy. Such a boycott has been called for by Israeli peace organisations.
As a result of its illegal occupation, Israel is able to flood the Palestinian market with its products, while preventing Palestinian farmers from growing and trading their own. We believe Israel's actions betray Jewish ethical traditions - the cutting down of olive and fruit trees is prohibited by Jewish law. The continuing occupation and exploitation of Palestinian land is a major obstacle to peace for Israelis and Arabs alike which has global implications for world peace.
Prof Moshe Machover,
Jews for Boycotting Israel Goods
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