Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Boycott stuff: UNISON now

UNISON boycott

I've just read that UNISON, Britain's largest union I believe, has passed a boycott motion. Jon, blogging live from conference, writes:
As I write we are in the international debates. The debate on Cuba was enlivened by one contribution from a delegate who described Cuba as a “dictatorship” and opposed a motion in solidarity with Cuba. The motion went on to be passed all but unanimously.

The debate on Palestine is considerably more controversial with strong views on both sides around the question of a boycott of Israel. Tony Greenstein from Brighton and Hove branch has just won thunderous applause for an impassioned speech in support of the motion from Wolverhampton which the National Executive Council are (rightly in my view) supporting. This is a wide ranging motion about solidarity with the Palestinians – however the focus of the debate is around the question of a boycott of Israel. The motion calls for an immediate arms embargo and expresses principled support for an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott.

Leftwing opponents of the boycott proposals appear to me to cling to a very abstract view of class politics, leading them to believe that there could be some unity, in current circumstances, between Israeli and Palestinian workers. Helen Jenner, speaking on behalf of the NEC has explained that UNISON policy is absolutely in favour of dialogue, but that we have to respond to the appalling way in which the Palestinian people are being treated. UNISON is not opposed to the Israeli state or the Israeli people but to the policies of the Israeli government. Boycotts are a tactic to be considered and employed as appropriate...

The Conference has just overwhelmingly supported Motion 53 including the tactic of a boycott.
Motion 53, according to JPost,
says that a "just" solution to the conflict must be based on international law and that Israel should withdraw to 1967 borders and allow the refugees of 1948 to return home. The motion calls for Israel to "remove all settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Occupied Syrian Al-Joulan; take down the Apartheid Wall; respect the Palestinian people's right to national self-determination and establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Jerusalem."

The motion galvanizes the union to support a full boycott to pressure Israel to end the occupation and condemns the sanctions placed on Hamas following the 2006 elections "which make worse the appalling economic circumstances of the occupation. It is a unique example of economic sanctions imposed, not upon an occupier, upon a population struggling against illegal military occupation." [via]
Key parts of the motion, that include the boycott call are: "Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott." And:
Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

a) continue to campaign with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and others as appropriate;

b) continue to develop capacity building projects with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU);

c) call upon the United Kingdom government to end the arms trade with Israel;

d) produce UNISON's own material on Palestine to build knowledge among members;

e) consider inviting a PGFTU delegation to tour regions;

f) seek ways to work with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and other trade unions on the basis of the TUC 2006 Congress resolution;

g) raise the issue of Palestine with UNION's overseas partners and with international trade union federations with the aims of:

i) suspending the European Union/Israel Association Agreement; and

ii) a mandatory United Nations Arms Embargo on Israel of the kind the Security Council imposed on South Africa in 1977; and

h) encourage branches and regions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), help build PSC branches and consider twinning with PGFTU organised public sector workers in Palestine.
That is, it supports a boycott as part of the strategy, but doesn't explicitly resolve to help implement one. (See conference decisions here.)

Background: JPost
Unison's "anti-Zionist witchhunt" against LabourStart: JC, AWL

Links

NUJ Boycott
UCU Boycott
General
Previous boycott link round-up here. The other academic freedom issue here.

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I am seriously considering applying for Israeli Nationality.