This Friday the National Executive of the NUJ meets – and the row over the Israel boycott will be on the agenda.
We have spent the last two and a half months expressing our dismay at our union’s foolish decision to take a one-sided view of the conflict in the Middle East - just the latest excursion into politics by a union which should be concentrating on looking after the interests of journalists.
Just as a reminder, this was the key paragraph in the motion passed at ADM:
“This ADM calls for a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions and the TUC to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations.”
A number of branches responded by passing motions critical of the policy, and the Broadcasting Industrial Council also condemned the boycott. Over 350 NUJ members have signed an online petition with this wording:
"As NUJ members we are dismayed at the passing of a motion at ADM calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. As members of a profession which prides itself on providing impartial news coverage, we cannot associate ourselves with this policy. We believe motions that take sides on geopolitical matters divide the union's membership and undermine the solidarity it needs to defend our professional interests and campaign for the freedom, safety and welfare of fellow journalists around the world. We call on the union to hold a ballot of all members to see whether they support the view taken at ADM on an issue which could have a profound effect on the way all British and Irish journalists are viewed at home and abroad."
We now wait to hear whether the National Executive will respond to the genuine concerns of many members who believe their reputation for impartial reporting is endangered when their union is so obviously seen to take sides.
We are already being warned that the Executive is powerless to intervene because ADM is the supreme policy-making body of the union. But I don’t think many of the officials understand how strongly members feel – and how damaging it will be if their concerns are ignored. We expect a serious discussion of this issue - and a proper response.
And please tell more NUJ colleagues about the petition - we don't have any access to members' emails so we're very dependent on word-of-mouth to spread it:
BALLOT ON NUJ BOYCOTT Petition