Journalist Union Calls For a Boycott of All Israeli Goods

A 40,000 strong union that supports journalists in Britain and Ireland has called for a boycott of all Israeli goods as punishment for "Israeli aggression in Palestinian territories". The story was covered last Friday by the UK based Online Press Gazette.

The National Union of Journalists has voted to boycott all Israeli goods for “aggression” in Palestinian territories. After almost an hour of debate at today’s Annual Delegate’s Meeting in Birmingham, the conference voted 66 to 54 in favour of the ban.

The controversial clause was part of a motion proposed by Mick Gosling, of the Press and PR branch, and called for the union to “condemn the savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon” last summer and the “slaughter of civilians in Gaza” over the last few years.

Paragraph four read: “That [this] ADM 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 to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government.”

The Jerusalem Post reported that the union also condemned the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay and gave support to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez in separate motions.

This is what journalism has been reduced to in both the United States and overseas. Antisemitism and left wing bias has become increasingly acceptable to the point where journalists that should be wary of such biases barely flinch an eye when actions such as this occur. The story was essentially a non-event with sparse coverage in the mainstream media; perhaps out of embarrassment but more likely because it blows the lid off the specter of objectivity.

Union member Toby Harnden of the Daily Telegraph captured my sentiments to a T.

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."

Exactly, the union represents journalists who are supposed to be objective in their reporting yet this democratically deliberated motion doesn't even have the pretense of objectivity; this is why you may not have heard of the story unless you went searching for it.

In a twist of irony the motion displays the union representatives own blatant racism by labeling Israel with the loosely flung equivalence of apartheid, a term meant to imply institutional racism by the Israel against its neighbors. Yet I can't shake my belief that the racism is actually the other way around. Various press agencies have repeatedly been caught peddling propaganda against Israel. If we simply confine ourselves to looking at the military action in Lebanon that is referenced in the motion we have numerous examples of such bias. Cases such as the Reuters photo fraud that prompted the news outlet to remove all pictures taken by a Lebanese photographer. In fact the press repeatedly reported false and misleading information surrounding events in Qana right up to erroneous report that Israeli Defense Forces attacked a funeral procession. In all cases the press unwillingly had to admit their errors.

From a geographical standpoint nearly all of Israel's neighbors are calling for her destruction in one way or another. A fact that most mainstream news sources cover sparingly or along side the ever present and unqualified "but" of Israel as the aggressor in occupied territories.

The Union's General Secretary Jeremy Dear released a statement yesterday in word doc format defending the motion by using the argument that the boycott is related to the kidnapping of British journalist Alan Johnston in the Gaza strip.

The call for the boycott in part related it to the kidnap of Alan Johnston. The Palestinian journalists union has given huge support to the campaign for his release - holding demonstrations and strikes against the Palestinian authority to demand more action from them. We work closely with the Palestinian union through the International Federation of Journalists and the boycott call was a gesture of support for the Palestinian people - notably those suffering in the siege of Gaza, the community Alan Johnston has been so keen to help through his reporting.

Let me get this straight. Alan Johnston was kidnapped in the Gaza strip by a Palestinian group related to Al-Qaeda and somehow the general secretary of the union believes a boycott of Israel is the solution?

Tim Gopsill, the union's public relations director explains.

The motion was stoutly defended by the NUJ's public relations director, Tim Gopsill. He told the Post: "Who can condemn the NUJ's boycott when the EU and USA are boycotting the Palestinians and leading to worse economic situations for those in the [PA] territories? Members' sympathies lie with the people in Palestinian areas."

Gopsill blamed the Palestinian economic situation for Johnston's kidnapping. "Taking Alan Johnston [captive]," he said, "demonstrates the Palestinians' desperate way of drawing attention to their problems."

That really does explain it all. Last I checked neither the EU nor the United States were press organizations. Further Gospill's statements ignore the fact that the year long boycott is not only nearing its end but that it was targeted toward the terrorist lead Hamas faction of the Palestinian government. Gospill actually attempts to legitimize the terrorist lead kidnapping as an act of desperation by the Palestinian people when it really is just another tool that terrorists use to threaten their enemies. Unfortunately the only thing that Gospill legitimatizes is my belief that these people are so filled with hate toward Israel that it has affected their credibility as objective members of the media.

Thankfully not all journalists are going along with this idiocy.

  • Tom Gross, a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph, said British trade unions had taken a fashionably left-turn in their views over the past few years, echoing the positions taken by the "international Left" in targeting Israel. "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," he said. "If British journalists really want to boycott Israeli goods, they better give up their desktop and notebook computers and their mobile phones, all of which have components developed and manufactured in Israel."
  • Donald Macintyre of The Independent, said he did not know anything about the union's actions until he read it in the Israeli media. "The job of the NUJ is to protect journalists and not adopt political postures, Right or Left," Macintyre told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. "It certainly won't affect my job or my professional outlook."

The secretary general of the union says it is not about reporting but I disagree. It has everything to do with reporting and will continue to be so until agenda driven activists are driven out of the front lines of the journalism industry.

Terry Trippany is the editor at Webloggin