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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Britain's National Union of Journalists votes to boycott Israel

With no signs of life for more than a month from fellow journalist Alan Johnston, Britain's National Union of Journalists has voted to boycott Israel. Makes sense, doesn't it? The boycott is meant to protest last summer's Hezbullah-initiated 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 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.
British journalist Tom Gross slammed the union in a piece published in IsraelInsider, but says that Israel needs to take this boycott seriously:
With Britain as the base for influential international media such as the BBC, Financial Times, Economist magazine and Reuters news agency, British media lies about Israel have ramifications far beyond Britain.

Just to show what disregard British (and indeed most European) journalists have for the truth about Israel, the NUJ motion "called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza." In case they haven't noticed, Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, and indeed is maintaining a ceasefire even while Palestinian rockets continue to be fired from Gaza on an almost daily basis into Israel, aimed at civilians.

The NUJ motion also spoke of "last year's war in Lebanon." Of course there was a war in Israel too, where hundreds of civilians were killed and injured by Hizbullah rockets, but the National Union of Journalists seems not to have noticed.

Indeed the absence of those evil Israelis in Gaza has given free reign for the journalists' beloved Palestinians to kill and intimidate and kidnap who they want. One of the latest kidnap victims is the BBC's Alan Johnston, who no longer had the Israeli army there to protect him.

If British journalists really want to boycott Israeli goods, they better give up their desktop and notebook computers and their mobile (cell) phones, all of which have components developed and manufactured in Israel.
But Gross is known to be pro-Israel. What's more interesting is that a general round-up of British journalists' blogs also shows that most of them are opposed:

Blogging journalists’ reactions have so far been critical of the decision. Lloyd Shepherd looks forward to hearing about “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.”

Freelance Craig McGinty writes:

I AM a member of the NUJ and am wondering 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.

Telegraph Washington correspondent Toby Harnden describes the boycott as “inane, ineffectual, counter-productive and insulting to the intelligence” and worries that many of the ADM motions betray a fixation with “trendy leftie” causes:

I am a member of the NUJ, though at times like this I wonder why. A union battling for better pay and conditions is one thing. But why should my dues be spent on anti-Israel posturing of which I and many other members want no part?

The wording of the motion condemning of Israel, Harnden argues, is “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”.

One commenter on Harden’s blog notes that given Israel’s booming high-tech industry, boycotting the country could prove rather difficult:

[I]f the NUJ are serious about boycotting Israel, they should throw out their laptops and cellphones: all Windows software was and is developed in Israel, and the Motorola, Nokia and most other cellphone CIM’s are all made there too. Back to Underwood manual typewriters and two tin cans with a string for the Fourth Estate!

I don't expect to see any British journalists doing that any time soon.

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