If any further proof was needed of the British media’s inability to deal with Israel in an objective and fair manner, it arrived on 13 April as the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year’s Lebanon war.
By a vote of 66 to 54, the delegates called for “a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and [for] the [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government.”
Tom Gross points out:
“Just to show what disregard British (and indeed most European) journalists have for the truth about Israel “The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza.” In case they haven’t noticed, Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, and indeed is maintaining a ceasefire even while Palestinian rockets continue to be fired from Gaza on an almost daily basis into Israel, aimed at civilians.”
The Daily Telegraph’s Washington correspondent Toby Harnden called the vote “inane, ineffectual, counter-productive and insulting to the intelligence”, commenting:
“The “slaughter of civilians” by Israel is condemned (no mention of suicide bombings or human rights abuses by Palestinian militias, needless to say), as is the “savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel” and “continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah”.
What kind of language is this? It is 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. Israel “defeated” by Hezbollah? That is at best debatable – it’s the kind of wording smacks of a juvenile combination of unedifying gloating and wishful thinking.
Israel’s “savage, pre-planned attack” on Lebanon? Er, am I missing something or wasn’t last summer’s conflict sparked by Hezbollah firing rockets and mortars at Israeli border villages and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers (who still have not been released) and killing three other troops?”
NUJ member Craig McGinty simply wonders “how boycotting any nation’s goods, whether it’s Israel, China or Umpah Lumpah Land will help improve the lot of both staff and freelance journalists.”
While we condemn this ridiculous and self-defeating display of anti-Israel bias by the NUJ, we also recognize that this boycott was voted on by a very small number of people and potentially against the wishes of many ordinary NUJ members. The most effective way of overturning this motion and boycott is from within the NUJ itself. We therefore urge those members of the union who possess a conscience to take action and register their protests to the NUJ.
If this boycott is allowed to stand, it will be impossible to treat any British journalism from Israel or the Palestinian territories seriously.
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