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British journalists vote to boycott Israel

UK reporters union to boycott Israel

Britain's National Union of Journalists denounced Israel on Friday for its "military adventures" in Gaza and Lebanon, called on the government to impose sanctions and urged a boycott of Israeli goods.

By a vote of 66 to 54, the annual delegate's meeting of Britain's largest trade union for journalists called for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and [for] the [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government."

Some of the union's 40,000 members decried its "trendy lefty" agenda. Other motions before the four-day meeting in Birmingham, which ends Sunday, included condemnations of the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and support for Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

The second Lebanon war: JPost.com special report
The boycott motion was the third clause of a larger anti-Israel resolution proposed by the union's South Yorkshire branch that condemned Israel's "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon" last summer and the "slaughter of civilians in Gaza" in recent years.

Motion 38 also called for supporting the NGOs Jews for Justice, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and the Council for the Advancement of British-Arab Understanding.

After an hour of debate, a motion to sever the boycott clause from the condemnation motion was adopted. The motion condemning Israel's "savage" behavior toward Palestinian civilians in the wake of "the defeat of its army" by Hizbullah passed by a wide margin.

Following two abortive hand counts, the boycott motion passed by 66 to 54.

The Daily Telegraph's Washington correspondent, Toby Harnden, characterized the vote as "inane, ineffectual, counterproductive and insulting to the intelligence."

"Why should my dues be spent on anti-Israel posturing of which I and many other members want no part?" Harnden wrote on his Telegraph blog, condemning the motion as "tendentious and politically-loaded propaganda that would be rightly edited out of any news story written in a newspaper that had any pretensions of fairness."

Craig McGinty, a freelance journalist and member of the Union of Journalists asked on his blog, "How boycotting any nation's goods, whether it's Israel, China or Umpah Lumpah Land will help improve the lot of both staff and freelance journalists."

Former Guardian reporter and Yahoo Europe news director Lloyd Shepherd quipped that he now looked "forward to similar boycotts of Saudi oil (abuse of women and human rights), Turkish desserts (limits to freedom of speech) and, of course, the immediate replacement of all stationery in the NUJ's offices which has been made or assembled in China."

On the same day the National Union of Journalists condemned Israel, the organization's international affiliate, the International Federation of Journalists, called on the Palestinian Authority to secure the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped five weeks ago by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza.

IFJ general-secretary Aidan White urged the "Palestinian government to do everything in its power to make sure [Johnston] is released immediately."

The kidnapping had done "great harm not just to journalism but to the development of the region in general by making it impossible for journalists to work safely and report on developments there," he said.

Johnston's kidnapping was not on the NUJ's agenda.


Jerusalem Post, "UK reporters union to boycott Israel", 15 April 2007.


BBC News, "[British] Academics back Israeli boycotts", 22 April 2005.
    Academics have voted to boycott two Israeli universities over their alleged involvement in "illegal activity" in the occupied territories.
    Members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) decided to suspend all links with Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities.
    They were complicit in a system of "apartheid" towards Palestinians, delegates at the AUT's council heard.

Haaretz, "Irish lecturers call on EU to boycott Israeli universities", 24 September 2006.
Irish lecturers call on EU to boycott Israeli universities
    Irish academics have called on the European Union in an open letter to impose a moratorium financial support to Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation in the Palestinian territories.
    The call for the boycott, published last week in the Irish Times daily, came since according to its organizers "The Israeli government appears impervious to moral appeals from world leaders and to longstanding United Nations resolutions."

The Independent, "Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier", 10 February 2006.
    A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the separation barrier in the Occupied Territories.
    Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes, met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60 attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem.
    The group said that architects, planners and engineers working on Israeli projects in the occupied territories were "complicit in social, political and economic oppression", and "in violation of their professional code of ethics".
    It said that: "Planning, architecture and other construction disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of environmental control."
    The meeting discussed a boycott of Israel - targeting Israeli-made construction materials and Israeli architects and construction companies - as well as possibly calling for the expulsion of Israeli architects from the International Union of Architects.
    A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy said: "Whoever supports a just solution should refrain from any manner of boycott. It just puts more obstacles in the way of reconciliation in our region.
    "If these people care about the Palestinian cause they should help to build bridges not destroy."

Jerusalem Post, "Dubai ports firm enforces Israel boycott", 28 February 2006.
    The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
    The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 16 April 2007.

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