Yup, yet another British organization is planning to hold a vote to determine whether they should boycott Israel. This time it’s UNISON, England’s largest labor union. It has 1.4-1.6 million members (to remind you all, Israel has 7 million citizens) and wields some clout with its pension funds and sheer size – it is more than ten times as large as all of the British organizations that have already voted to boycott or announced a vote on a boycott put together. Once this one goes through, I suspect even Tom will stop questioning whether all of England should be held responsible for these boycotts.
In the meantime, the British government, somewhat embarrassed, is scrambling, apparently unaware that the ship has left the harbor:
“The UK government fully supports academic freedom and is firmly against any academic boycotts of Israel or Israeli academics,” said Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education Bill Rammell. “Whilst I appreciate the independence of the UCU, I am very disappointed that the union has decided to pass a motion which encourages its members to consider boycotting Israeli academics and education institutions.”
Israel has a huge labor union, the Histadrut, which has been a force in the Israeli economy as well as political life for many decades. The head of the Histadrut wrote a letter to the heads of UNISON asking that they cancel this vote for its unfairness. He indicated that the Histadrut hasn’t boycotted Palestinians despite their ongoing attacks and told them that it’s really sad to live in Sderot as Palestinian rockets keep landing on homes, cars and people at random. He could have save the ink and the stamp because this is clearly coming to a vote with some internal momentum.
The lesson here may be that we’ve learned little since Durban when we saw how the NGO universe had been deeply infiltrated and influenced by Palestinian and pro-Palestinian forces with a clear agenda. At the time it was clear that the Jewish community was simply outnumbered and clearly outmaneuvered. While the Jews were worrying about social justice, maintaining civil rights and preventing any outbreaks of significant antisemitism, the Palestinians were focused on harming Israel. The same is happening now in England and will follow suit in some other countries. The Palestinians are using inherently biased-to-the-left organizations, namely unions, to establish Israel as a pariah. When a union doesn’t exist to do the deed, it isn’t hard to find 100 or so willing souls from a certain walk of life to band together and create a boycott.
The question is, what can be done? Well, believe it or not, Israel cannot “end the occupation” to satisfy the nebulous demands of these groups, because the “occupation” is what keeps Israel safe from guaranteed Palestinian attacks. How can I guarantee these attacks? I look at the fact that Gazan Palestinians have never stopped attacking Israel despite Israel’s unilateral and comprehensive exit from Gaza. This resembles Palestinian actions in 2000 AFTER they were offered a peace deal AND a state at both Camp David and Taba, but launched a war instead of negotiating in good faith. An “end to the occupation” would also mean Israel giving up all of the Old City including the Western Wall to a nation that is led by two parties that both deny any connection of the Temple Mount or the Western Wall to the Jewish people.
So what should Israel and those who care about it do? Well, there’s still time to lobby the relevant union members about the folly of this boycott. However, it seems to me that Britain can really be written off at this time. Instead, it’s important to study whether similar movements are afoot in other countries, particularly the US and large European countries, and engage leaders in dialogue as well as some form of interaction with Israel. Let them visit and see for themselves the complexity of the situation. Let them hear about the history of this conflict from voices that aren’t Palestinian or wacky-Lefty-anti-Israel. This is not a good time to leave a vacuum anywhere, it may be filled by those whose agenda is the destruction of Israel.