Backlash after ADM calls for boycott of Israeli goods

Journalists have reacted with anger to the ADM's controversial decision on Friday to boycott Israeli goods — but the author of the motion said he was standing firm.

The union passed a motion which condemned the "savage pre-planned attack on Lebanon" and which agreed to organise a series of boycotts of Israeli goods similar to those imposed against Apartheid-era South Africa.

The motion, proposed by Mick Gosling of the Press and PR branch, was merged with another submitted by South Yorkshire branch also calling for an Israeli boycott due to the country's "slaughter" of Palestinian civilians and the country's "aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories".

Introducing the motion, Gosling said: "How would any of you feel to be exiled from your homeland for 50 years?

How would you feel to be an Arab and have to go through a checkpoint to see your friends and family?

"If Palestinian journalists can put themselves on a picket line in support of a British journalist [Alan Johnston] then why can't we do something to support them here?"

After a lengthy debate and two recounts, the motion was carried with 66 votes in favour and 54 against.

Gosling, who works as a freelance, Call to allow asylum seekers full NUJ rights The NUJ is running at a loss and has increased its subscription charges for all members by an average of £7.40 a year to make up for a downturn in funding.

Delegates were told that the "operational shortfall" for the year ending September 2006 of £23,000 was due to a lack of planning and reserve funds to call upon.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear (pictured above) said he was reluctant to increase subscription charges but the increases were essential to "safeguard the union's future"

He said: "Do you think I want to be standing here asking you to vote for a By Sarah Lagan ADM has called for the union's National Executive Council to allow asylum seekers full union membership while urging the union charities to make it possible for asylum seekers or refugees to have access to NUJ grants.

Exiled journalist Mansoor Hassan, who has worked unpaid as a journalist in the UK since 2002, said: "As a union you have always extended solidarity to me.

"You have always given your support to all refugees seeking asylum during all ADMs and I'm sure that by passing this motion and extending your solidarity to us in the shape of full membership, it will enable journalists to carry on work which is unpaid because of the legislation from the Government.

"I have come to the ADM for the past three years as an observer — I hope that next year I can come as a delegate."

The motion also called on the NEC to campaign with the TUC for asylum seekers to have full status in other unions.

rise in subscriptions? Sometimes being in the leadership you have to take hard decisions."

He admitted that he had opposed rises in subscriptions at previous ADMs as a delegate, but said the union was better now and was "rightly admired throughout the trade union movement for our fighting spirit". Dear said the next few months would be a period of "consolidation" of the union's finances.

Union treasurer Anita Halpin said: "Over the last 100 years our finances have had their ups and downs, but we survived. For the first time in a number of years, I have to report a deficit."

SUBSCRIPTIONS: 01858 438872 NUJ ANNUAL DELEGATES MEETING defended the boycott and warned against journalists ignoring the issue.

He said this week: "The press every day of the week takes positions on issues. To say that journalists should not take positions on issues is wrong.We cannot bury our heads in the sand."

Tony Harden, Washington correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and a former Israel correspondent, criticised the move as "inane, ineffectual, counter-productive and insulting to the intelligence".

"You could say this kind of thing is what gives British trade unions their loony left image. A glance down the list of motions shows that, despite celebrating its centenary, the NUJ is still an adolescent," he said.

An NUJ member, Harden urged the union to practice journalistic impartiality when formulating policies.

The deputy director of news, sport and information at Yahoo! Europe, and former deputy director of digital publishing at Guardian Unlimited, Lloyd Thomas, wrote on his blog: "I look forward to similar boycotts of Saudi oil (abuse of women and human rights), Turkish desserts (limits to freedom of speech) and, of course, the immediate replacement of all stationery in the NUJ's offices which has been made or assembled in China.

"I'm sure those boycotts will be along.

In the meantime, the governments of these countries must be in a frenzy of fear. Which way will the NUJ go?

Exciting, isn't it?"

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