Archive for September, 2009

Large french industrial Trade Union, Solidaires Industrie, joins the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign.

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 23, 2009 by Marcy Newman

As it has been published today, Solidaries Industrie, a large french industrial trade union, has joined the BDS campaign. It happens a few days after the British trade union confederation also is calling for Boycott.

http://www.solidaires-industrie.org/Boycott-Israel

L’Union syndicale Solidaires Industrie rejoint la campagne nationale et internationale de Boycott, Désinvestissement, Sanction (campagne BDS) contre Israël lancée par les organisations palestiniennes en 2005.

Israël impose un régime d’Apartheid aux palestiniens. Le monde a refusé l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud, il le refuse aussi en Palestine. La société civile palestinienne a lancé un appel à une campagne non-violente de boycott, désinvestissement et sanctions (BDS) en 2005 tant qu’Israël ne respectera pas le droit international. Quasiment aucune des résolutions de l’ONU n’ont été respectées depuis 1948 par cet état colonial qui discrimine la population palestinienne et qui étend sans limite le territoire de ses colonies. La fiction de deux Etats initiée aux accords d’Oslo en 1993 est largement mise à mal aujourd’hui et les ouvriers et paysans palestiniens vivent sous un régime d’occupation militaire.

Nous exigeons avec la société civile palestinienne qu’Israël respecte les préceptes du droit international en :
1. Mettant fin à son occupation et à sa colonisation de toutes les terres Arabes et en démantelant le Mur,
2. Reconnaissant les droits fondamentaux des citoyens Arabo-Palestiniens d’Israël à une égalité absolue
3. Respectant, protégeant et favorisant les droits des réfugiés palestiniens à revenir dans leurs maisons et propriétés, comme stipulé dans la résolution 194 de l’ONU.

Déjà, plus de 200 organisations et syndicats par le monde ont signé cet appel. Dans un cadre syndical les TUC britanniques viennent de s’y associer ainsi que l’Union syndicale Solidaires en France. Nous les rejoignons après nos camarades de Sud Education, Sud Santé Sociaux, Sud Etudiant et Sud Recherche.

Au dela du boycott économique, universitaire, culturel et institutionnel nous insistons sur notre rôle d’organisation syndicale. Les droits des travailleurs palestiniens dans les frontières de 1948 ou dans celles de 1967 n’ont pas de rapport avec ceux des autres citoyens israéliens. La discrimination est patente, 50.000 ouvriers agricoles palestiniens travaillent dans les colonies et la vallée du Jourdain sans droits, avec des salaires inférieurs de moitié au salaire minimal israéliens.

Les ouvriers de l’industrie connaissent des conditions de travail très dangereuses dans des usines chimiques ou métallurgiques sans protection légale, avec de très nombreux accidents du travail et d’intoxication par les composants chimiques qu’ils manipulent, sans la possibilité de se faire soigner en Israël à cause du Mur.

De nombreuses sociétés françaises travaillent pour Israël. Dans les années 1980 la campagne de Boycott pour l’Afrique du sud avait entraîné des réactions syndicales dans les usines françaises Alstom qui construisaient les centrales nucléaires pour ce pays raciste.

Aujourd’hui toujours chez Alstom des réactions ont lieu contre la construction du tramway de Jérusalem qui va augmenter la discrimination à l’égard des palestiniens. En Languedoc Roussillon nos camarade de Solidaires 34 luttent contre la société israélienne Agrexco qui ne respecte pas les droits des palestiniens. Une action syndicale est possible.

Nous appelons tous les syndicats de Solidaires Industrie à participer à la campagne de Boycott d’Israël.

Solidaires Industrie est aux côtés et soutien dans leurs luttes les travailleurs palestiniens. 22/09/2009

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Ahava Occupied for a Second Time in Support with Palestine: global action in Washington, London and Amsterdam

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 23, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Washington, London and Amsterdam

Washington, D.C.
CODEPINK Women for Peace September 19 protest action against Ahava

VIDEO FROM September 19 AHAVA action in D.C.

London, England
Ahava Occupied for a Second Time in Support with Palestine
http://jfjfp.com/?p=5546

Excerpt: At 11 a.m. on the 19th September two members of the International Solidarity Movement entered Ahava in Covent Garden, London and closed the shop by locking themselves inside. Under the banner of “Stolen Beauty from Stolen Land”, the action was in support of the International Day of Action Against Ahava which had been called for by a number of international groups inclusive of Code Pink, Adalah NY, International Solidarity Movement, Palestine Solidarity Camapaign and the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign.

Ahava’s cosmetic products are manufactured in the illegal settlement of Mizpe Shalem. Based inside Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Israeli Settlement has stolen land and natural resources away from Palestinians. Furthermore, the sale of these products acts to finance and support war crimes committed by the Israeli state.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention and further ruled by the International Criminal Court Act 2001, Israeli settlements are illegal. They have drawn significant condemnation internationally and are seen as a key obstacle to realising any peace agreement.

The day of action -19th September 2009 – supports the Palestinian non-violent efforts at resisting the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine through the movement for international boycotts, divestments and sanctions.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

September 19: International Boycott Ahava Day in the Netherlands

http://mooiniet.wordpress.com/

Fifteen women and men in white bathrobes and pink towels, carrying signs saying: ‘ Ahava, Stolen beauty’ walked around Amsterdam on the international Bocyot Ahava day. This Bathrobe Brigade informed the consumers about the ugly truth of Ahava Beauty products. They whispered to the audience about the hidden secrets of Ahava, that produces its beauty products in illegal settlements in the occupied Westbank.

Two representatives of the Bathrobe Brigade spoke to the girls who work in the shop. The shop owner wasnt present. The Bathrobe Brigade handed them information about Ahava and spoke about moral responsibility: ‘ We do not buy products that are tested on animals, we try to buy fair trade and we do not want to support a company that profits from the illegal occupation of the Palestine.’

The Bathrobe Brigade will contact the shop owner for an appointment to explain further about Ahavas dirty business.

The initiative is supported by Another Jewish Voice in the Netherlands.

Tomorrow we will give an interview for the Dutch national radio station.

Soon more photos and video will be uploaded on our blog: http://mooiniet.wordpress.com

Hollywood fights back against anti-Israeli sentiment

Posted in Cultural Boycott on September 21, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Ad denounces boycott demands made at Toronto International Film Festival.

By TINA DAUNT

September 19, 2009

Left, right or center, there’s two things nearly everybody in Hollywood agrees on: There’s no disease that can’t be cured by raising enough money and the state of Israel deserves unabashed support.

These days, sympathy for Israel puts the American entertainment industry at odds with much of the European film and academic communities. In those circles, vehement criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians and boycotts of Israeli scholars and artists have become almost fashionable. (In cinematic London, Hamas militants are the new baby seals.) Hollywood has mostly shrugged all this off, until this week, when it decided that an outbreak of anti-Israeli agitation in Toronto was bringing things a little too close to home.

Canadian documentary filmmaker John Greyson pulled his latest movie from this week’s Toronto International Film Festival because he said the event’s sister-city relationship with Tel Aviv was an implicit endorsement of “the smiling face of Israeli apartheid.”

A variety of entertainers — including David Byrne, Julie Christie, Ken Loach, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortensen and Wallace Shawn — published a letter alleging that Toronto had become an agent of the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

Some people in Hollywood took these initiatives not as a disagreement with Israeli government policies but as an attempt to isolate and ostracize the Jewish state’s vibrant, diverse and independent film community. (If there really is a dirty word in Hollywood, it’s “blacklist.”)

So former CAA agent Dan Adler, acting under the sponsorship of Los Angeles’ Jewish Federation and United Jewish Appeal of Toronto, put together a counter ad that denounced the boycott demands in Thursday’s trades.

“We all spent a lot of time talking about the original protest letter, in the sense that it seemed to be going after the wrong target by attacking Israel and its film artists,” Adler told The Times’ Patrick Goldstein on Wednesday night. “When I sat down at my computer and started asking for people to sign on, all I got was passion and enthusiasm. Everyone said, ‘I’m in,’ and then, even better, added, ‘Can I get you someone else?’ ”

The signatories do read like a who’s who of Hollywood’s elite with a cast that runs from the executive suites to the sound stages and cuts across generations. Among those who signed on are Jerry Seinfeld, Seth Rogen, Robert Duvall, Halle Berry, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Zwick, Jason Alexander, Chazz Palminteri and David Cronenberg, as well as A-list producers and executives Ron Meyer, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sherry Lansing, Neal Moritz, Jonathan Glickman, Nina Jacobson, Darren Star, Nathan Kahane and Gail Berman.

(There’s even a precedent-setting credit for writer-director Michael Tolkin, who “polished” the ad’s text. Now, there’s something the Writers Guild would like to see catch on.)

In a phone interview, former Paramount head Lansing said she and her husband, director William Friedkin, were upset that the Israeli filmmakers had been singled out for retribution, especially as the community starts the Jewish new year and High Holy Days.

“These are independent filmmakers who are not working as the propaganda machine of the state of Israel,” Lansing said. “It’s dangerous to — in any way — turn the film festival into a political event. We do not want to return to the days of blacklisting.”

Media mogul Haim Saban was blunt in his assessment. “The world always had anti-Semites,” he said in an e-mail exchange. “It has now and always will, but the people of Israel always have, and always will live and prosper. Sorry Jew haters. You lose.”

The criticisms of Israel, especially among European entertainers, has intensified since the Gaza war. However, they argue that they are not against the Jews, as Saban suggests, but merely concerned about the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

In January, singer Annie Lennox and comedian Alexei Sayle called for an end to the “slaughter and systematic murder” of Arabs in Gaza.

The pair was joined by a panel of public figures, which included Ken Livingstone, Bianca Jagger and George Galloway, in a news conference demanding that Israel stop its “siege.”

In posts on her blog and in the Huffington Post, Fonda — who said she initially signed the Toronto letter because she too was concerned about the loss of innocent lives — sought to clarify her position. She admitted that she had not read the full text of the complaint before putting her name on it.

“It was the outcry that ensued that caused me to study it more carefully,” she said. “It was then that I saw that there were parts of it that I did not agree with. . . .”

She went on: “Some of the words in the protest letter did not come from my heart, words that are unnecessarily inflammatory: The simplistic depiction of Tel Aviv as a city ‘built on destroyed Palestinian villages,’ for instance, and the omission of any mention of Hamas’ 8-month-long rocket and mortar attacks on the town of Sderot and the western Negev to which Israel was responding when it launched its war on Gaza.” Fonda added: “By neglecting to do this the letter allowed good people to close their ears and their hearts.”

It’s hard to believe that even Fonda’s well-practiced backpedaling is going to temper the outrage in activist Hollywood, where attacks on Israel in almost any form are a non-starter.

US Campaign’s longstanding endorsement of the boycott call

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 21, 2009 by Marcy Newman

David Wildman and Amie Fishman, The Electronic Intifada, 21 September 2009

Thanks to Nada Elia for her article “A Turning Point in the US Solidarity Movement” (16 September 2009) and for her important role in cogently laying out the rationale for engaging in cultural and academic boycotts of Israeli institutions during the 8th Annual National Organizers’ Conference of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Indeed, as Elia states, we broke new ground at this conference by voting to expand the scope of our boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) work to encompass both cultural and academic boycotts of Israeli institutions and campaigns against Israeli corporations profiting from occupation and apartheid. Up until this conference, the US Campaign focused its BDS efforts on confronting US corporations that profit from Israeli occupation and apartheid. While this expanded commitment is new, the US Campaign’s commitments to BDS and organizing within an anti-apartheid framework are longstanding.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation actually began an early BDS campaign in 2002, with the creation of our Divestment Task Force during the US Campaign’s first year of existence. We endorsed the Palestinian civil society call for BDS campaigns shortly after it was issued in 2005, and within one month had chosen Caterpillar as the first BDS priority for the coalition. And in 2007, we voted to add to our work a new BDS campaign against Motorola during our 6th Annual National Organizers’ Conference.

In 2006 we adopted the anti-apartheid framework to shape all of our work challenging Israeli policy towards Palestinians. This has resulted in the US Campaign producing numerous educational materials about Israeli apartheid and a major national anti-apartheid speaking tour in 2008 featuring Diana Buttu, former Palestine Liberation Organization legal advisor, and Eddie Makue, Secretary General of the South African Council of Churches.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has been and will continue to be committed to the Palestinian civil society call for BDS and to opposing Israeli apartheid policies toward Palestinians. For additional information about our BDS and anti-apartheid work, please visit our website at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org.

Sincerely,

David Wildman and Amie Fishman
Co-Chairs, Steering Committee
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Spain excludes settlement university from academic competition

Posted in International BDS Actions on September 21, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Jerusalem/Barcelona – The”University Center of Ariel in Samaria” has been excluded from a prestigious university competition about sustainable architecture in Spain.With this move, Spain joins the growing number of European governments to boycott institutions and corporations involved with Israeli settlements and the Wall. . .

“Ariel University Centre of Samaria” was one out of 21 teams selected last April to compete for the Solar Decathlon-Madrid 2010, the most prestigious competition for sustainable architecture in the world, initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy and nowadays organized by the Spanish Ministry of Housing together with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid [M1] .[1]

Selected teams, formed by architects and engineering students are asked to design and build a real house entirely driven by solar energy. Every house should be built in one of the 20 sites waiting for them in the “Solar Villa” planned in Madrid to host them. To facilitate participation of the various teams, the Spanish Ministry of Housing allocated a sum of 100.000 Euros for every project.

Last Wednesday,September 16th, Sergio Vega, General Director of Solar Decathlon Europeaddressed all participant teams to communicate the exclusion of AUCS: “The decision has been taken by the Government of Spain based upon the fact that the University is located in the West Bank. The Government of Spain is obliged to respect the international agreements under the framework of the European Union and the United Nations regarding this geographical area”. It represents the first case of sanctions against an Israeli academic institution in Spain.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in Palestine has taken up the campaign against official Spanish support of the illegal Israeli university in occupied Palestinian territory following an initiative of the UK based professional association Architects and Planners for Justice and Peace (APFJP). The support of many individuals and organizations in Spain for the cancellation of AUCS’ participation in the Solar Decathlon had culminated in a parliamentary question in the Spanish Parliament [2] and the eventual exclusion of the settlement from the competition.

This move of the Spanish state follows the decision of the UK government not to rent offices from Israeli settlement builder Lev Leviev and the divestment of the Norwegian Pension Fund from Elbit, an Israeli company providing surveillance equipment to the Wall.

The BNC congratulates the Spanish university teachers, parliamentarians and organizations for this principled stand with the Palestinian people and international law and calls for sustained support of the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with ending the occupation, facilitating the right of Palestinian refugees to return and ensuring equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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For more information please see the Palestinian BDS call:

http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52

Boycott movement derails Jerusalem’s transit system

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions on September 19, 2009 by Marcy Newman

Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 18 September 2009

An ill-fated light railway under construction in Jerusalem was originally heralded by Israeli officials as a way to cement the city’s “unification” four decades after the city’s Palestinian half was illegally annexed to Israel.

But the only unity generated among Jewish and Palestinian residents after four years of disruptions to the city’s traffic and businesses is general agreement that the project is rapidly becoming a white elephant.

After engineering problems, rows between the contractors and the municipality and delays caused by archaeological discoveries along the route, completion of the first 14 kilometers section of track is not expected until the end of next year at the earliest — more than 18 months behind schedule. The budget overspend is estimated at more than $500 million.

This week, in an indication of the deepening crisis, Israel’s Dan bus company was forced to step in to buy the five percent stake of Veolia, a French company that is supposed to operate the line for the next 30 years. Dan, which is waiting for the Israeli government to approve its bid, has no prior experience of running a rail system.

Shmuel Elgrably, a spokesman for the transit system, told the Haaretz newspaper last week that the loss of Veolia had “screwed” the project.

Veolia’s unexpected withdrawal from City Pass, a French-Israeli private consortium backed in part by public finances, is being claimed as a victory by Palestinian officials and activists whose boycott and lobbying efforts appear to have forced the company to quit the project.

They have accused Veolia and another French firm, Alstom, which is laying the tracks and providing the rail cars, of violating international law by working on a project designed to benefit Jewish settlements in the occupied part of Jerusalem.

Since East Jerusalem’s annexation, Israel has moved some 200,000 Jews into illegal colonies surrounding more than a quarter of a million Palestinian residents.

Despite pressure from Washington for a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared this week: “Jerusalem is not a settlement and construction [of homes] will go on as planned.”

Officials announced this month that 500 new apartments are to be built in Pisgat Zeev — a settlement of more than 40,000 Jews that will be connected to West Jerusalem in the first phase of the rail system’s construction.

The line, which is supposed to serve 150,000 passengers a day and ease congestion on Jerusalem’s roads, will also pass by the famous Damascus and Jaffa Gates of the Old City.

Future sections of track are supposed to link up other Jewish settlements, including Neve Yaacov, Atarot and Gilo.

When the transit system contract was signed in 2005, Ariel Sharon, the prime minister at the time, said it would “sustain Jerusalem for eternity as the capital of the Jewish people.”

Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which has been targeting Veolia and Alstom over their involvement, wrote this month in the Jerusalem Quarterly magazine that the railway was part of “a comprehensive, long-term strategy … to cement the integration of those [settlement] blocs into an ever sprawling ‘Greater Jerusalem.'”

Barghouti claimed that the transit system is part of a secret Israeli plan, the outlines of which were revealed by the Haaretz newspaper in May, to create large infrastructure projects to prevent the future division of Jerusalem and thereby thwart any hope of a peace agreement.

The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

The project’s supporters, however, point out that five of the 23 stations along the first line will be located in Palestinian neighborhoods, including the deprived Shuafat refugee camp.

To be profitable, says City Pass, the light rail must cater to the city’s large communities of ultra-Othodox and Palestinians, both of whom are heavy users of public transport but currently use different bus routes.

Yet there are few indications that either group is keen to be brought on-board the transit system.

Palestinians are likely to be wary of using a railway dominated by settlers, and there may be severe limitations to their access to the service.

Shir Hever, a Jerusalem-based economist, said many Israeli Jews would be unwilling to share trains with the city’s Palestinian inhabitants, particularly after a series of attacks last summer in East Jerusalem, mostly using bulldozers.

“The real questions,” he said, “are how many Palestinian areas in East Jerusalem will be left out of the loop of the rail system and, even where there are stops, what security requirements will be imposed on Palestinians, compared to Israeli Jews, before they can board the train?”

Some observers suspect that, after the first attack following the railway’s opening, it will be closed to Palestinian travelers.

The ultra-Orthodox appear equally distrustful. Their rabbis have condemned the transit system because it will encourage men and women to mingle and replace the community’s own segregated “modesty” buses. Last year, seven rabbis wrote to the municipality to complain that their followers would have to pass through secular neighborhoods “where a God-fearing person would not set foot.”

Planners too, it seems, are preparing for trouble. The 42 rail cars — each costing more than $3 million — are designed to withstand stones and firebombs.

But the very survival of the project is now in question after the BDS movement’s successful lobbying. A Dutch bank, ASN, pulled its investments from Veolia in 2006, and the company lost a large contract in Sweden this year.

Alstom is also under great pressure. The Swedish national pension fund, AP7, excluded the French firm from its investment portfolio this year and activists are now seeking to force its withdrawal from a consortium awarded a $1.8 billion contract in Saudi Arabia to build the Haramain Express between Mecca and Medina.

In addition, both Veolia and Alstom are battling the Palestine Liberation Organization through the French courts over their involvement in City Pass.

The consortium’s woes have only increased with the election last year as Jerusalem mayor of Nir Barkat, a right-wing businessman who is a vocal opponent of the venture. Costs have already exceeded $1.1 billion, twice the original projections, with the Israeli government sinking in $200 million itself.

Earlier this year Barkat threatened to terminate City Pass’ contract after the completion of the first line. He believes other routes can be served by a fleet of buses that would be five times cheaper to run.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

British Unions Representing 6.5 Million Workers Endorse Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel

Posted in International BDS Actions, Labor Organizing on September 19, 2009 by Marcy Newman

September 17, 2009 Toufic Haddad

British trade unions representing 6.5 million workers have overwhelmingly passed a resolution voting to commit its members to participate in and build a campaign involving boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against Israel.

The motion was passed at the 2009 annual Trades Union Congress (TUC) held in Liverpool after being submitted by the Fire Brigades’ Union. The TUC is a coalition of 60 different unions representing the vast majority of organized British workers.

The congress voted to condemn “Israeli military aggression and end the blockade on Gaza” and calls for an end on all arms trade with Israel, the imposition of a ban on the importing of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to support moves to suspend the E.U.-Israel Association Agreement.

It also calls for the TUC’s main leadership body, the General Council, to affiliate with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), to push for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel. The PSC is a major Palestinian solidarity organization in the U.K. that has worked with British trade unionists in different capacities to advance their work on Palestinian-related causes.

The motion is one of the most significant victories to date for the global movement to promote boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel – a movement whose roots stem from a 2005 call for such measures by wide swathes of Palestinian civil society organizations and actors.

I interviewed PSC’s General Secretary, Betty Hunter, to learn more about the organization’s work to get the motion passed and its significance.

The Boycott Movement’s “Big Step Forward”

Interview with Betty Hunter, General Secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)

Can you speak a little about how this vote came about?

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has been working with the trade union movement for some years. We won affiliations from the major trade unions to us. Over the years we’ve spent time working with them on bringing people over to Palestine to meet Palestinian workers and obviously Palestinian people, and to see what the reality of occupation is.

They have taken positions of course in support of Palestinian rights, but we’ve worked on convincing them that there is a need for practical action to be taken. They are very concerned obviously, and they have I think, put in money, to help projects [on the ground in Palestine]. But also we wanted them to actually get active here [in the U.K.] in helping to put pressure on, since our government simply does nothing about all the international humanitarian law that exists that should mean that Israel’s war crimes and Israel’s oppression should end.

So it’s taken some time to win them, but we have won unions over individually to a policy of boycott in some cases, mainly on consumer boycott and disinvestment, and that’s a big start. But this particular event is the Congress – the meeting of all of the union movement, and in a sense it represents the main stream of the British labor movement in Britain. So it’s a big step forward.

What about the motion’s impact? What effect would these 6.5 million workers potentially have?

It is significant. Obviously we believe that our government is complicit. It’s done nothing. It did very little, even about the massacres in Gaza, and it’s certainly done nothing as far as we can see about the increase in settlement building and so on. They keep telling us of course that they are having talks with Israel. But talks with Israel have been going on for 60 years, and have resulted in no progress, but in fact increased oppression. So our government needs to feel the fact that the British public are against what their policy is, and I think that’s the significance of today’s vote. Because the Labor government does have close links with the trade union movement.

I haven’t got direct evidence, but we believe that the British government has been putting pressure on the trade union movement to not take this decision. But that’s what makes it so significant: that despite pressure – I mean the BBC has twice this week in the morning had people speaking on the main news program on the radio, against this resolution without having anybody speaking about it who supports the resolution. That’s pressure in our opinion. So we believe there has been a lot of pressure on, and so it just shows how strong the trade union leadership now believes that they have to do something to help the Palestinians’ situation.

Does this vote mean that 6.5 million British workers will no longer handle, for example, Israeli settlement products?

No I can’t promise that. Not immediately. What it means is that we can now campaign with more authority with workers. We haven’t called on workers not to handle goods, because our laws – our anti-trade union laws – in this country, are much stronger than they were during the period of our campaign against apartheid in South Africa. So we haven’t called for that because that would have resulted in I think a stalemate. What we have asked for is to encourage the actual trade unionists as individuals to boycott Israeli goods especially the agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal settlements. We believe that is a good way to start the ball rolling so that this becomes really a mass campaign where everybody in Britain will start to boycott Israeli goods. That’s I think the significance of it. Of course this resolution calls for an end to all arms trading with Israel. And it calls for the General Council, which is this very important trade union body, to pressure the government to do that, and to pressure the government to support the suspension of the E.U.-Israel trade association agreement. So there is quite a lot involved in the resolution.

What were the vote totals?

It was almost overwhelming.

What are the next steps of the campaign?

The next steps for us at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is to make contacts with all our affiliated trade unions, go and talk with them, discuss with them how they will get this message out to their members because that’s what we really need to do. The 6.5 million workers obviously don’t all necessarily agree with this yet. Most of them will. We’ve got to get them actually convinced. So we will be talking with the trade unions individually about how they can actually take up the issues in this resolution. We will also ask for a meeting with the Trade Union Congress General Council, which is this , if you like, ’supreme body’ of the trade unions in this country, and which has definitely got significant opportunity to discuss with the government that we as a solidarity campaign do not have. We will go and talk with them about how we can take this forward too.

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