British journalists' union calls off boycott

The UK's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has put forward a motion effectively overturning the decision to call for a boycott of Israeli goods, taken at its annual delegates meeting in April. The union's National Executive Council has forwarded a motion, tabled by union general-secretary Jeremy Dear and seconded by its president Michelle Stainstreet, that calls to put the row over the Israel-boycott call and for members to unite behind the union's key workplace priorities. The executive council has committed to continuing to work with Israeli journalist unions and has stated it will take no action on the boycott motion. The motion "strongly reaffirmed" the sovereign role of the union's annual conference in setting National Union of Journalists policy and rejected any allegations that the union was anti-Semitic or racist, reaffirming the union's commitment to fighting racism in all its forms. The Stop the Boycott Campaign, a coalition of academics and Jewish and non-Jewish groups across the UK, welcomed the decision to drop the boycott call. "This is an honorable decision and a victory for common sense," said campaign co-director Jeremy Newmark. "It shows that the NUJ leadership are attuned to the wishes of their membership, and should serve as an example to the leaders of other trade unions. This is a shot in the arm for the anti-boycott movement in the UK and the beginning of a backlash against the extreme positions of the pro-boycott camp." "This is a vindication of the members of the NUJ who do not want their union to boycott Israel," Lorna Fitzsimons, chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre said. "This vote is instructive to all the trade unions whose conferences are voting to boycott Israel - the rank and file do not want it." The boycott call had been widely condemned across the British media. National Union of Journalists grassroots members led a campaign against the boycott. Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones led the anti-boycott campaign at the BBC. National Union of Journalists chapels at ITN, Reuters and the Guardian newspaper, and many others, issued statements opposing a boycott of Israel. a