April 14, 2007

Journalists deliver good news on Israel boycott

Late news on the Guardian website yesterday. The UK's National Union of Journalists voted for a boycott of Israeli goods. See this opening paragraph:
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.
This is very strange. Israel's existence isn't predicated on "last year's war in Lebanon." Has the Guardian got it wrong here? There are two reasons for boycotting Israel. One is a protest against something specific that Israel is doing, eg, the occupation, the wall, etc. The other is a campaign against the zionist structure of the State. What's the point of a boycott for something a state did unless it's aimed at war reparations which it doesn't seem to be. I'm not simply nitpicking here. Activists should be explaining zionism to people. We can't simply say that Israel is a state that does bad things. All states do that bad things though perhaps we could contrast Israel's response to the capture of its soldiers with the UK's response to the capture of its sailors. We have to say that Israel is a bad state. We have to describe its structure, its origins and how it maintains itself with a certain "demographic balance" and on territory of a certain (or uncertain) size.

Anyway, that's the bad news bit out of the way. The good news is that Israel has been condemned by a major influential union in the UK.
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 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.
Hmm, well it seems to be getting clearer now. It looks to me that Lebanon may have been the catalyst that got some condemnation of Israel going. The splitting away of the Lebanon/Israeli aggression stuff from the boycott stuff ensured that Lebanon would not be used as a pretext to slip through a boycott resolution based on anger rather than reason. Having split the condemnatory resolution from the boycott resolution delegates could express their anger at Israel even if they didn't want a boycott. Had the resolutions remained as one, those wishing to condemn Israel may not have been able to do so. Also, having the boycott resolution stand alone, delegates could make it clear that they are boycotting Israeli goods because of an on-going situation involving Israel. They may not be condemning the zionist ideology and project itself but they are not simply looking back in anger on something Israel did. They could condemn what Israel does which may well be a short step from condemning what Israel is: a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing, racist laws and relentless aggression towards the natives and neighbours of Palestine.

In the end delegates did vote to boycott Israeli goods on account of what Israel does by a margin of 66 to 54. Too close, it's true, so this will be revisited as is the case in other unions. But as long as the debates are had the true nature of the zionist project will become clearer to more and more people. And that is also good news.


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