UK labor federation reaffirms anti-Israel boycott support

Amendment to motion calls on all unions “to review bilateral relations with all Israeli organizations, including Histadrut."

September 20, 2011 06:04
2 minute read.
A protester calling for a boycott of Israel

Boycott Israel 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)

LONDON – The Trade Union Congress, Britain’s labor federation, voted to reaffirm its commitment to the boycott of Israel and to “review” its relationship with the Histadrut at its annual conference in London last week.

The motion called for the TUC to reaffirm a policy adopted last year “to work closely with the [radical fringe group] Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the occupation and the construction of the Wall.”

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An amendment to the motion called on all unions “to review their bilateral relations with all Israeli organizations, including Histadrut” was also approved.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Friday, a spokesman for the 6.5-million-member federation said and it had agreed to maintain a policy from last year and that a review did not mean a break off of ties.

“Delegates agreed to maintain the policy we agreed on last year on illegal settlements in the West Bank, and wholeheartedly supported UN recognition for Palestine as part of a two-state solution,” the TUC spokesman told the Post.

“They agreed that unions should review relations with Israeli organizations but that doesn’t apply to the TUC and it was made clear by several unions that ‘review’ does not mean ‘break off,’” he added.

Meanwhile, a Jewish academic has filed a law suit against the University College Union, Britain’s largest trade union for academics representing roughly 120,000 university lecturers.

Ronnie Fraser, a University of London doctoral student, accused the union of breaching equality laws, institutional anti-Semitism and harassment of its Jewish members after its decision to not recognize an internationally- accepted definition of anti-Semitism.

UCU has been synonymous with the academic boycott calls of Israel over the years.

In June, the union voted to disassociate itself from the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia’s definition of anti- Semitism, claiming that the definition stifles debate and is used to deflect criticism of Israel. It led to accusations that it is institutionally racist.

In July, Fraser threatened to take the union to court if it did not respond by August to his call for resolution.

A spokesman for Fraser said last week that the union had responded to Fraser’s lawyer, Anthony Julius, from the distinguished London law firm Mishcon de Reya, however it had failed to take the charges seriously.

“In its reply to Mr. Julius, the UCU failed to take these charges seriously and as a consequence, Mishcon has now filed a claim on behalf of Mr. Fraser to the Employment Tribunal,” a spokesman for Fraser said.

“The UCU’s hostile obsession with Israel and Zionism over the last five years, coupled with its failure to understand contemporary anti- Semitism, has resulted in the UCU being a place that is not hospitable to Jews. The UCU’s institutionally anti- Semitic behavior towards its Jewish members had left Mr. Fraser with no alternative but to take this further,” the spokesman added.

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