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NUJ boycott motion defeated

The National Union of Journalists’ biennial Delegate Meeting [Conference] in Eastbourne yesterday rejected a proposal to boycott Israel. The motion was similar in tone and content to a boycott motion that NUJ did pass in 2007. It was rejected overwhelmingly, with such a large margin that there was no need to count.

BBC branches spoke against the motion, and the Guardian branch was also a vocal opponent.

After being alerted, UK Labour Leader Ed Miliband spoke out against the boycott proposal during his Israel visit last week. The motion was opposed by the Union’s National Executive Committee. NUJ’s General-Secretary made a strong speech against the motion which might have swayed many delegates. NUJ’s own report of the debate can be read here

A spokesman for the Fair Play campaign said:

“We welcome the decision by the NUJ’s General-Secretary, Executive and Delegates to overwhelmingly reject a boycott of Israel. Seven years ago, the NUJ voted to boycott Israel, provoking a major backlash from serious journalists in Britain and around the world. Today, the Union has renounced this path and has chosen another, better way that’s true to the journalistic values of neutrality and fairness.”

Eric Burdon cancels Israel concert due to threats

Former lead singer of The Animals, Eric Burdon was scheduled to perform in Israel in August, but has cancelled his performance due to threats and security concerns.

A Fair Play Spokesperson said: ”When Anti-Israel activists failed to convince Eric Burdon to cancel his trip to Israel, they resorted to intimidation and threats instead. This isn’t a victory for boycott campaigners, but for thugs. We call on performers to stand up to these bullies, whose antics do nothing to further peace. As Eric himself said “people cannot be denied music.”

An open letter to the archbishop of Canterbury

This is a cross post from The Jerusalem Post by Fran Waddams

The Jewish Leadership Council of the UK recently led a group of leaders from  several Christian organizations to Israel and the Palestinian  territories.

This group had the opportunity to meet with and question  Israeli officials, citizens and clergy.

Fran Waddams of Anglican Friends  of Israel, one of the organizations represented on the trip, responds to a  report by the archbishop of Canterbury on his visit  to the Holy Land which took place a few days later.


Dear Archbishop  Justin,

I toured the Holy Land, together with Christian leaders of other  organizations, on a visit organized by the UK Jewish Leadership Council just a  few days before you last month, and read your reflections on your own visit to  the region wondering whether you would be as attentive and impartial as you were  at a meeting a few years ago at which I spoke and you were chair.

It’s  heartening that you support the rights of all people in the region “to peace,  security, and justice.”

The issues you touch on also arose on our three  days of visits and meetings with Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, and  Palestinians, and some questions sprang to mind as I read your piece.

You  were shocked at the contrast between west Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Next  time you visit, would you ask Palestinian leaders why there is such a contrast?  The Palestinian Authority has received billions of dollars in aid. Where,  exactly, has this money gone? It doesn’t appear to have gone into  infrastructure, public buildings and utilities, nor created Palestinian jobs nor  gone onto Palestinian tables. It might really help our understanding if we knew  the answers to this question.

Palestinians may find passing through IDF  checkpoints inconvenient, or even humiliating.

But air travelers of every  nationality accept the indignity of intrusive security searches, understanding  that there are those who would blow airliners out of the sky if measures were  not taken to stop them.

Israel’s security fence and checkpoints exist for  the same reason. They were put into place only after dozens of murders and  hundreds of mutilations caused by Palestinian suicide bombers who drove  unhindered into Israel to carry out their missions. Several people loaded with  explosives have been stopped at checkpoints over the years. Every week the  Israel Defense Forces intercepts weapons and explosives and prevents  indiscriminate death and mutilation of Palestinians and Israelis alike. Israel’s  security measures save lives.

One young Palestinian woman has written  that “most Palestinian Christians and peace loving Muslims acknowledge  (privately) that the wall was built as a direct response to suicide bombers from  within the Palestinian community.”

However unwilling the Ecumenical  Accompaniers Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) is to believe it, it is  a fact that the number of terror attacks, which reached epidemic proportions by  2003, has dwindled to almost nothing.

Like us, you were alarmed by the  danger with which the citizens of Sderot live daily. It’s one thing to read  dispassionately the few reports that appear in the UK media, quite another to be  on the spot, wondering whether the nearest bomb shelter (at every bus stop)  could be reached within the 15 seconds between the Red Alert and the missile  exploding. The morning after our visit, terrorists were lobbing missiles toward  Israel.

They missed this time. But missing was not the intention, and it  didn’t stop Sderot’s parents having to make agonizing decisions on whether they  had time to get all their children to shelter in time.

Then we met young  IDF soldiers, amazed that British Christians wanted to show appreciation for  their dangerous work. Most Christians they encounter are scrutinizing their  behavior for faults as they work at checkpoints or try to prevent violence at  demonstrations.
These Christians seem indifferent to the dangers they  face as they try to distinguish between peaceful Palestinians and those  smuggling explosives or weapons.

Finally we had the privilege of visiting  Baptist Pastor Naim Khoury in Bethlehem. Brought up to believe that the Jewish  Scriptures were irrelevant, he began to read them for himself as a 17 year old.  He has discovered that the whole Bible is God’s Word, not just the New Testament  and as a result insists that Palestinian Christians are obliged to love all  their neighbors, Muslim and Jew.

He also learned that God has given the  Jewish people a right to live in the Holy Land. Pastor Khoury does not endorse  all that the Israeli government does. Nevertheless, he insists that Jews’ right  to live unhindered on the land promised to them by the God is clearly set out in  the Bible.

As a result of his courage, Pastor Khoury is shunned by fellow  Christians, his church has had its right to conduct official marriages and  baptisms withdrawn by the Palestinian Authority, his church has been bombed 14  times, and he was once shot. Nevertheless, his Arab congregation numbers in the  hundreds, the largest in the Territories. What an irony.

The conflict  between Israel and the Palestinians is complex.

It is about land and it  is about justice. And your question is excellent – what constitutes a “just  solution.” There are many voices that you won’t hear by sticking to “official”  channels. The truths told by the “other voices” are out there, but so often  those voices have to be sought out.

They’re worth listening  to.

They really are.

Record surge in Israel-UK trade

This is a cross post from the Jewish Chronicle by Sandy Rashty

Trade between Britain and Israel rose by 21.9 per cent year-on-year between the first quarter of 2012 and 2013.

And despite the vociferous boycott campaign, imports from Israel rose by 55.6 per cent in the same period.

The figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel show a  £170 million overall increase in bilateral trade.

Most of the British imports come from Israel’s renowned high-tech sector. But  food produce is also a key contributor to the buoyant trade figures, despite being one of the boycott campaign’s main areas of attack.

The UK is Israel’s second largest export market. The US is the largest.

Noah Shani, minister for Trade and Economic Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London, said: “Business between Israel and the UK is booming and the latest bilateral trade figures are once again testament to the strength and vibrancy of this trade relationship.”

Hugo Bieber, chief executive of UK Israel Business, a leading organisation promoting trade relations between the two countries, added: “We have seen significant interest from Israeli firms exporting to the UK and also from UK firms looking to purchase best-in-class products and services from Israel.

“Given Israel’s status as the ‘start-up nation’, consistently developing new technologies across sectors, we expect to see trade between the UK and Israel continue to increase.

“When business is put ahead of politics, significant economic benefits can be seen for both the UK and Israel.”

Since the beginning of the year, the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British embassy has helped organise five tech-related business delegations between the two nations.

This week, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt joined a delegation of 20 British pharmaceutical and biomedical companies to Tel Aviv — including NHS representatives .

The two-day trip is part of a number of government-backed delegations promoting co-operative economic relations between the two counties.

Rohan Silva, a senior policy adviser to David Cameron, led a delegation of British supermarket chains and luxury brands to Israel last month.

Meanwhile, at the UK Israel Business Awards on Wednesday, Sir Mervyn King, the retiring Bank of England Governor, praised Israel’s economic performance. “It is one of the very few advanced economies whose output grew every year throughout the economic crisis”, he said. He also revealed that he had advised Israel’s central bank on a new law regulating the functions of the Bank of Israel.

The Jewish News Audience with Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander

From Iran to the Middle East peace process and the battle against boycotts to faith schools. These are just some of the issues likely to feature when the Shadow Foreign Secretary takes the hot seat for the latest in the Jewish News’ series of Q and A sessions with senior politicians.

Speaking ahead of the session – organised by the Jewish News in partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre and with the support of the Jewish Leadership Council – Alexander said: “I am looking forward to engaging with members of the Jewish community in such a wonderful setting. I hope the evening will prove to be an interesting exchange of ideas and opinions.”

To be in the audience to quiz one of the Labour Party’s most senior figures, click on or call 020 8457 5000.