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Union scraps boycott call

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-07-10



The National Union of Journalists has decided to drop plans to ballot its members on whether the union should boycott Israeli goods.

The decision by its National Executive Council (NEC) follows outrage over the proposal which saw more than 30 journalists resign from their union as well as many more threatening to join them if a boycott call was held.

In April the boycott motion was proposed in protest against Israel's war in Lebanon last year and saw 64 votes for the boycott to 55 against.

At the time, one NUJ member told SomethingJewish: "This is disgusting. I don't see the NUJ boycotting products from Zimbabwe or calling for a boycott of products that are made in China as China has bad human rights. I and others are seriously considering our membership."

Following the motion, a number of journalists united under Stop The NUJ Boycott to fight any planned boycott of Israel.

Among those leading the campaign against the boycott was BBC reporter Rory Cellan-Jones who has revealed he is pleased to see the boycott no longer a focus for his union.

"I think it is cause for celebration," he wrote on the Stop the NUJ Boycott blog. "The boycott is a dead duck. This has only happened because more than 400 NUJ members at branches and chapels across Britain and Ireland made their voices heard – through branch and chapel meetings and petitions. I think we can be proud of what we have achieved."

Other high-profile BBC names opposed to a boycott included political reporter Reeta Chakrabarti and media correspondent Nick Higham.

While Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow added that he was "outraged" that his Union should stage such a boycott.

Members of the Jewish community have also welcomed the move. "This is an honorable decision and a victory for common sense," said Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council. "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."

Instead of a boycott of Israeli goods, the NUJ is now asking its members to unite on "key workplace priorities".