Monday, July 09, 2007

Continuing madness

Whatever may have happened in the past, one is forced to assume that nobody with two connecting brain cells is active in any union, be that the NUJ, the academic teachers’ union, the white-collar UNISON or the grandest of them all, the Transport and General Workers’ Union (TGWU).

What do they have in common, apart from the fact that they or their predecessors tended to be very nice about the phoney trade unions of the Communist bloc? They are all calling for the boycott of Israeli goods.

The TGWU is the latest British organization to join this madness, just as news comes from Israel that the Cabinet has agreed to the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners in order to show its good will towards Fatah and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The gesture will probably backfire on Israel but that is another story.

It is only several weeks since we have seen Palestinians desperately fleeing Gaza and equally desperately trying to get into Israel to get away from Hamas. Who cares? It is Israel that is the evil country as any trade unionist can tell you.

As the Jerusalem Post reports:
The British Transport and General Workers Union, one of the UK's largest, voted on Saturday to boycott all products made in Israel.

Ahead of the actual vote, Eric McDonald, secretary of TGWU's Birmingham branch, which proposed the boycott motion, compared Israel to Nazi Germany.
What is it about Birmingham? OK, don’t answer that. But honestly, has Eric McDonald studied any history at all? If there is one thing that has been taught endlessly at our schools, at the expense of any other historical knowledge, is the Third Reich or, at least some aspects of it.

How can anybody in his right mind say that a democracy with a real parliament, a plurality of parties (including Arab ones), a free media (including Arab outlets), free academic institutions (where Arabs can study as well) is just like Nazi Germany?

Furthermore, does this mean that TGWU members will stop using their computers and refuse medical treatment if it happens to have been developed in Israel? I think we should be told. Anyone can buy Spanish oranges (thankfully, that is now allowed) or Peruvian avocados (help, who is in power there?). But what of all that electronic stuff?

When UNISON voted a little while ago to boycott Israeli goods, they allowed themselves a loophole.
UNISON pro-boycotter Caroline Bedale of Manchester declared that her interpretation of the boycott would allow continued links with 'progressives' in Israel, without saying who would decide, and how, which Israeli Jews are 'progressive' and would thus win exemption from the general rule that Israelis are to be shunned.
Hmmm. I wonder if Israeli doctors and medical researchers are all “progressive”. Wouldn’t surprise me.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are getting extremely fed up and who can blame them.
In response to the vote, the Histadrut Labor Federation announced that it would cut all existing ties with the union, which represents some 800,000 workers. Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini is expected to move on Monday that his organization cut all ties with groups that back boycotts of Israel or Israeli goods.
Well, never mind UNISON and TGWU can have ties with Arab trade unions and labour federations instead. Oh wait, there are no trade unions in either of the Palestinian state, not in Hamastan, not in Fatahland. Come to think of it, there are no trade unions in other Arab states either.

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