TUC votes for 'targeted boycott' of Israeli goods
Is not the TUC supposed to be a union of unions to co-ordinate the efforts of skilled workers to gain recognition from employers and to ensure rights to workers?
What does this have to do with condemning sovereign nations? Why should they have a Middle East policy at all? Do they have an Africa policy? An Asia policy? A North American policy? An Antarctica policy?
They have no concern for the crimes and inhumanities of China, Iran, Sudan, North Korea or Zimbabwe, all of which have appalling records in ‘human rights’.
Only plucky little Israel.
The resolution of the Fire Brigades Union was actually passed, but the TUC have issued a statement which supersedes it. The official policy of the TUC is now, ‘as a result of the Gaza offensive’ to call on the British Government to:
(a) condemn the Israeli military aggression and the continuing blockade of Gaza;
(b) end arms sales to Israel which reached a value of £18.8 million in 2008, up from £7.7 million in 2007;
(c) seek EU agreement to impose a ban on the importing of goods produced in the illegal settlements;
(d) support moves to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement which provides preferential trade facilities to Israel.
It is news to Cranmer that Israeli exports come with a convenient label which says 'these goods are produced on an illegal settlement'.
And since they do not, this 'targeted boycott' is nothing of the sort: it is effectively a call to boycott all Israeli exports.
But this policy is deemed by the TUC to be a moderate and proportionate response to Israel’s 'campaign of terror' in Gaza, for they insist it falls short of the total boycott demanded by Andy Gilchrist, which would have been ‘divisive and counterproductive’ They assert that this policy constitutes ‘meaningful help to the people in Israel and Palestine’ – ‘the sensible voices of the TUC have prevailed’.
But the ‘sensible voices’ have succeeded in pushing through a policy in which the TUC says it ‘will support a boycott (where trade union members should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with such products) of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements — through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign working closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign — and campaign for disinvestment by companies associated with the occupation as well as engaged in building the separation wall’.
The statement also says it will encourage unions ‘to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and to raise greater awareness of the issues’.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, has issued the following statement:
The TUC’s leaders should hang their heads in shame at this reckless call for a boycott. They have betrayed their own constituency by allowing the TUC to be hijacked as a political tool for extremists. This one sided approach subjects the State of Israel to a despicable double standard not experienced by any other nation, including dictatorships such as Libya, which recently celebrated the return of a convicted mass murderer.
The boycott statement fails to acknowledge Israel’s obligation to protect its citizens from terror and issues no calls on Gaza’s ulers or the Arab world to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The statement’s condemnation of rocket attacks is nothing but flimsy lip-service, and does not in any way sufficiently address the suffering of Israel’s citizens, in the face of years of terror from thousands of Hamas missiles.
Any boycott will inflict harm and hardship on workers throughout Israel, both Jew and Arab alike. Boycotts would not promote progress or understanding, but would be a slap in the face to all those who sincerely campaign for peace.
Both Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Secretary Miliband have condemned boycotts of the State of Israel. We will continue to strive to prevent such motions, in cooperation with Israel ’s friends within the TUC, who recognise the absurdity of this motion.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews have said:
We are genuinely saddened that, in passing the FBU motion and adopting elements of the General Council statement, the TUC have damaged their ability to act as an honest broker building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. The TUC has a noble record as a positive and unifying element in British life and in international relations. This new policy will only create discord and divisiveness, masking a pro-boycott agenda behind the smokescreen of opposition to settlements.
The TUC has committed to a supporting a two-state solution. They have asked unions to fund joint Histadrut/PGFTU projects. These constructive positions are totally incompatible with the decision to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an organisation whose own logo wipes Israel off the map.
The Jewish community has many friends in the heart of the Trade Union movement, some of whom fought for a more balanced position. We are grateful to them. However, we made it clear to TUC leaders before their conference that a ‘deal’ which retained the language of boycotts would not address our concerns.
The fact that within moments of this statement was released conference delegates voted for a another extreme hardline pro-boycott motion proposed by the FBU is evidence that our concerns are well placed, and that TUC leaders must act against the harmful influence of the PSC within their unions. We insist that TUC leaders immediately clarify that this motion does not stand as TUC policy.
Israel's strong, independent trade union movement works closely with the Palestinian trade unions to protect the rights of all workers. It is particularly ironic that implementation of the TUC’s policy will harm the employment of many of those Palestinians.
Our communal leaders will respond robustly to this policy, which risks driving a wedge between British Jews and the Trade Union movement. Our response will be threefold:
Firstly, we will be asking the TUC leadership to act swiftly and decisively to reassert their opposition to a boycott of Israel, and advise their member unions accordingly. We expect the General Council's statement to be used as a licence to boycott by anti-Israel activists.
Secondly, we will actively expose the discriminatory politics of the PSC, in order to frustrate their hijacking of Trade Unions to promote their anti-Israel and anti-peace agenda.
Thirdly, we will be encouraging members of our own community to fight back, by getting involved in Trade Unions and speaking out.
Why is the TUC not concerned with the suffering of Israelis? Where is their policy for the protection of Israelis from Palestinian terrorists? If the TUC insists that Israel has a right to self-defence, how can an arms embargo be justified?
Must be Socialist logic.
It is worth reminding the TUC that successive Israeli governments have shown that they are prepared to return land taken in the defensive War of 1967 but only in exchange for recognition of Israel and a commitment to peace. Even though neither Hamas nor Fatah has agreed to this, Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and Sinai before that.
But Cranmer simply wants to know how a 'targeted boycott' of Israeli goods in order to increase pressure on the Israeli government to end the ‘illegal occupation’ of ‘Palestinian territories’ improves the working rights of British Firemen.
And he will now make a point of squeezing a few Jaffas.