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STUC and the Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions campaign
Our decision to support BDS
STUC's decision to promote a campaign of Boycott, Disinvestments and Sanctions against the cott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign
state of Israel was not taken lightly. Over a period of two years, STUC considered the issues;consulted with Palestinian trade unionists; listened to the views of the Israeli trade unions; andin 2009, organised a major fact finding mission to Israel/Palestine where the delegation spokewith dozens of peace and solidarity organisations. STUC Congress agreed to promote thecampaign in 2009 after agreeing the report carriedon page 15 of this pack.
60 years of United Nations resolutions have notresulted in any progress for Palestinians in theOccupied Territories in Gaza and the West Bank –including occupied east Jerusalem.
Israel's continuing policy of building settlements inPalestinian territory is a violation of internationallaw. These settlements are rightly classed by theUnited Nations as areas of military occupation.
20,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed byIsrael since 1967 and a segregated road system isused in the West Bank to carve it into Bantustanslimiting free movement, free association andeconomic activity.
Israel's eighteen-foot concrete and barbed wirebarrier "security fence" which is based on the expropriation of Palestinian land and the physicalseparation of communities has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice andthe UN. It deserves its increasingly common description as the "apartheid wall." In three weeks between December 2008 and January 2009 during its Gaza offensive, Israeliforces killed 1400 women and children, actionswhich were described by the UN as "indicating "… you can't have a bunch of little serious violations of international human rights" and bantustans or the whole West "amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes Bank chopped up into non- against humanity." coherent, non-contiguous pieces and say this is an acceptable state." - Former US Secretary of state Colin Powell The response of international governments toIsrael's continued violation of international law andits abuse of human rights has been inadequate. Israel continues to trade, import weapons andassert itself on the international stage with impunity.
What do we hope to achieve?
The campaign for BDS is part of the worldwide movement of civil society in support ofthe Palestinian people for national, civil and human rights and has several purposes.
It lets the Palestinian people know that they are not forgotten and the justice of theircause is recognised.
It sends a signal to Israel that if it continues to flout UN resolutions, the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and other international laws, anduntil it ends its brutal occupation, it will meet with the same response as any otheroppressive regime breaching international law.
It enables decisions made in their everyday lives by people outside Israel and Palestineto refresh and reinforce their opposition toIsraeli policy.
‘I've been very deeply distressed It exerts moral pressure on the British in my visit to the Holy Land; it Government by giving expression to the reminded me so much of what desire to move towards a more ethical happened to us black people in foreign policy.
South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at It provides an excellent way of stimulating checkpoints and roadblocks, public debate, offers a focus for leafleting suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from and discussion, as well as exerting moral and moving about.' economic pressure on Israel to comply withinternational legislation and principles of Archbishop Desmond Tutu Apartheid was weakened by a similarinternational movement of solidarity thatsucceeded in branding South Africa as a pariah state. Despite obvious differencesbetween these two forms of oppression, this antecedent provides an inspiring model.
What can trade union organisations do?
Promote the case for Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions by: - Holding local or branch meetings with invited speakers, film and campaign materials fromorganisations listed in the resources section of this pack.
- Contacting local and national politicians to explain the reasons for supporting BDS- Writing to local church, community and campaigning organisations making the case for boycott- Writing letters to the press highlighting continuing oppression by the state of Israel of Palestin-ian peoplet- Holding information stalls in streets and at events- Undertaking one or more of the specific campaigning actions detailed in this pack.
Individual consumers can show their opposition to Israeli policies by participating in a consumer
boycott of Israeli goods and services. In the primary boycott, consumers boycott products from
Israeli companies. A primary consumer boycott works in two ways: firstlyby generating bad publicity for the offender and secondly by applyingeconomic pressure for change. There are a range ofIsraeli products currently on sale in UK supermarkets.
Much of the produce on sale has been grown onconfiscated Palestinian lands.
Whilst many Israeli products will be marked as such through the country oforigin label, others will not. Products labelled in Israel will be preceded by the numbers 729 on the barcode, so this can be used
as a helpful, but not definitive guide.
In addition to making the personal choice not to buy Israeli
produce, trade unionists can decide, both individually and
collectively to send a letter to the supermarket informing them of
the decision to boycott and asking them to de-shelve Israeli
products. For further details on how to organise a targeted
supermarket campaign go to www.stuc.org.uk/palestine.
Some common Israeli producers and products
Tivall (Sainsbury's Meatfree Hot Dog Sausages and Vegetarian Sausages)
Carmel (West Bank) (Organic Fruit and Veg sold in most Supermarkets)
Tomer (West Bank) (Organic Fruit and Veg sold in most Supermarkets)
Beigel and Beigel (West Bank) (Sweets and Pretzels etc)
Agriver/Flowersdirect (West Bank) strawberries and other berries, cut herbs,
pomegranates, figs, peppers, passion fruit, plums, carrots, cut melons, cut mangos.
Don't Boycott Kosher products
The STUC recognises the place of Israeli goods, such as Agrexco Agricultural Export
Company Ltd. Markets most
kosher products, in Jewish religious observance, and wishes of Israel's exports of fresh to ensure that a consumer boycott is targeted so that it fruit, vegetables and flowers, does not affect, as far as practicable, religious observance.
some of which are grown in illegal Israeli settlements in What trade union organisations can do
the West Bank. In a court - Contact members and circulate materials explaining how case in November of 2004, the General Manager of a personal consumer boycott can be undertaken Agrexco UK at that time, - Organise leafleting outside supermarkets making the case Amos Orr, testified that Agrexco markets 60-70% of - Write to supermarkets informing them of the decision to the agricultural produce grown in Israeli settlements boycott and asking them to de-shelve Israeli products.
in the occupied territories. Mailing and email addresses for some of the major UK Agrexco products are most supermarkets stocking Israeli goods can be found at commonly branded as
Products from illegal Israeli settlements
All major UK retailers sell Israeli goods, and most of them sell produce from illegal Israelisettlements in the West Bank. It is particulary important that such products are subject toboycott.
Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose all sell products from illegal Israeli settlements in the WestBank, many of which are exported by Carmel Agrexco. ASDA has made several statementsdenying that it stocks goods in its stores from the ‘West Bank' (i.e. settlement goods). However,ASDA's position is not unequivocal it recently stated that "On the sourcing of products fromoverseas we are always guided by the position of the UK Government and by the EuropeanUnion on trade policy." In 2007, Marks and Spencer decided not to stocksettlement produce because its supply chain DON'T BUY
management system means that it must be able to visitevery production site, and it could not guarantee the Ahava Dead Sea Cosmetics
safety of its staff within the West Bank, Golan Heights Ahava manufactures cosmetic or Gaza. The Co-op (now incorporating Somerfield) products using minerals from the Dead Sea. The company has a stated that "the Co-operative Group does not source factory and a visitors' center in primary produce from illegal West Bank settlements, the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe and is actively progressing the removal of the very Shalem in the occupied West Bank. It sells packaged Dead Sea small amount present as ingredients in own-brand mud excavated in the occupied composite products." area of the Dead Sea shore, next to Kalia settlement. Despite manufacturing its cosmetics in the occupied West Bank. Ahava What's on the label?
labels its skin care products imported into the EU as Some products will carry the words "produce of the originating from "The Dead Sea, West Bank". In all likelihood such produce is in fact from illegal settlements.
The vast majority, and veryprobably, all producelabelled from the WestBank, comes from thesettlements. Very little, ifany, produce that comes from Palestinian farms makes it to supermarkets in Sindyanna of Galilee
Sindyanna of Galilee markets Palestinian olive products on the What can you do?
principles of fair trade and joined IFAT in 2003. Its many products Write to your local supermarket asking them about include Dead Sea mud soap. their labelling policy for items of Israeli/Palestinian For more details go to provenance. Urge them not to stock produce of the Occupation and inform them that it is their duty toensure that their produce is accurately labelled.
The purpose of a collective boycott is to transmit pressure through companies to persuade theIsraeli government to alter its behaviour and obey international law. As such its is legitimate toboycott companies which operate in Scotland and are wholly or partly Israeli owned.
STUC decided in 2009 to change its water supplier. Eden Springs UK Ltd isentirely owned, managed and controlled by Eden Springs Ltd/Mayanot Eden, anIsraeli company that uses water stolen from a spring in the occupied SyrianGolan Heights. Eden Springs UK sources their water locally. However STUC willno longer use Eden Springs because its parent company Eden Springs Ltdoperates in the Golan Heights, territory illegally occupied by Israel, where it usesthe water resources for profit. Eden Springs has contracts in the public andprivate sector including supplying water coolers to local councils and healthauthorities.
What trade union organisations can do:
- Identify whether your workplace has a contract with Eden Springs- Lobby Eden Springs to urge it to withdraw all operations from the occupied Golan Heights- Contact relevant management advising of your view that an alternative supplier should befound. Be clear that you are not asking them to break an existing contract but that no newcontract should be negotiated.
Cultural collaboration boosts Israel's image on the international stage. By refusing to participatein cultural exchanges and cooperative projects, artists and cultural institutions can send a clearmessage to the Israeli establishment that their illegal occupation, and discrimination againstPalestinians, are unacceptable. Academic boycotts, conducted within the law and in the spirit ofequal rights to academic freedom for Palestinians, could have a significant impact on institutionsof higher education and research - which covet international respectability while remainingsilent about, or complicit in, the illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians.
- To argue for artists and cultural institutions to refuse to collaborate in exchange programmeswith, and performances in, Israel.
- Where performances, film screenings and other visits by Israelis are scheduled in Scotland, touse the occasion to draw public attention to the illegal occupation and the apartheid system inIsrael.
- To highlight to Israeli academics and academic institutions that collaboration with theoccupation and discimination against Palestinians is unacceptable to the international academiccommunity.
- To encourage links where possible between individuals and instituitons in Scotland andPalestinian universities, and artistic exchanges with Palestinians.
We are calling on British companies and shareholders to disinvest from Israel and, in particular,to target both Israeli, British and multi-national companies which are complicit with the illegaloccupation. Civil society organisations such as trade unions, women's institutes, ethical tradinggroups and co-ops, should scrutinise their investments and pension funds, to make sure they arenot implicated in supporting Israel. The withdrawal of corporate foreign investments can becomplemented by individual shareholders taking their investments away from Israeli companiesand companies which benefit Israel.
Under the spotlight - Caterpillar
As a direct supplier of bulldozers to the Israeli army for militaryuse, Caterpillar has attracted particular criticism for its role insupporting the Occupation. UN Special Rapporteur Jean Zieglercomplained to Caterpillar's chief executive Jim Owens in May 2004that Israeli forces were "using armoured bulldozers supplied byyour company to destroy agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancientolive groves and agricultural fields planted with crops, as well asnumerous Palestinian homes and sometimes human lives".
Nevertheless, Caterpillar continues to sell its D9 and D10 bulldozers to Israel where they are militarized and used to bulldoze homes, uproot olive trees,build the Apartheid Wall, and kill civilians. In additionto constituting violations of international law, of theUS Arms Export Control Act and of its own corporate In the UK, the Churches have code of conduct, Caterpillar is playing a special role in given the moral lead in the strengthening Israeli Apartheid and perpetuating divestment campaign. The Methodist Conference has injustice against Palestinians.
referred the matter to its Joint Advisory Committee for Ethical Investment and the equivalent committee of the Church of The Veolia parent company is Veolia Environnement, a England has recommended divestment from Caterpillar. This French multinational. Veolia Transport, a subsidiary of position has been ratified by the Veolia Environnement, is a leading partner in the General Synod. CityPass consortium, contracted to build a light railtramway system linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements such as Pisgat Ze'ev, French Hill,Neve Ya'akov and Gilo in occupied east Jerusalem. Oncebuilt, the rail system will help to cement Israel's hold on In November 2006, ASN, a Dutch occupied east Jerusalem and tie the settlements even bank, broke off financial relations more firmly into the State of Israel.
with Veolia on account of the light rail contract. Veolia also runs Luas, Dublin's light rail Veolia Environmental Services runs waste collection and system, but has been forced by recycling for several local authorities in the UK and so Trade Union pressure in Ireland provides a local target for appropriate action. It is clear to cancel a proposed deal to from the parent company's annual reports and website train drivers and engineers for that the company is one coherent whole and so the the Jerusalem light rail. misconduct of one division is the misconduct of thewhole.
Which companies to disinvest from?
Companies with direct links to direct actors in Israeli crimes are the obvious target fordisinvestment, but disinvestment from Israel as a whole can send a message to the Israeli societythat individuals and organisations around the world are no longer prepared either to bankrollthe occupation, discrimination and expulsion of the Palestinian people. Initially, STUC favourstargeted disinvestment campaigns aimed at companies directly complicit with the illegaloccupation. Consideration of complicity with human rights abuses and/or international illegalityare legitimate grounds for refusing to invest in a company.
A list of complicit companies is published by the Coalition of Women for Peace on the websitewww.whoprofits.org/ What trade union organisations can do
- Scrutinise your own organisation's pension scheme and other investment funds toensure they do not support companies investing in Israel- Ensure that union representatives acting as workplace pension trustees scrutiniseemployer/employee pension funds and argue for disinvestment- Lobby local and national organisations to adopt disinvestment strategies What information are you looking for?
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has excluded the Israeli When you contact the relevant investment or pension company Elbit Systems Ltd. fund manager you should ask for copies of the Fund's: from the Government Pension Fund – Global, on the basis of - Investment strategy. This should provide an
the Council on Ethics' overview of the approach towards investment and recommendation. The Council on Ethics has found that investment should include the different types of assets invested in Elbit constitutes an in and the proportion of the Fund invested in each.
unacceptable risk of contribution The strategy will probably state that the Fund's main to serious violations of obligation is to act in the best financial interests of the fundamental ethical norms as a members of the Funds. This does not preclude it result of the company's integral involvement in Israel's having a responsible investment policy.
construction of a separationbarrier on occupied land. - Responsible Investment policy. This should
outline the Fund's approach to responsible investment
and may enable the Fund to work alongside other investors to influence companies on issues
which are consistent with the Funds' fiduciary responsibilities. Many Responsible Investment
policies will be make clear that the Fund is signed up to the United Nations Principles of
Responsible Investment. But it should not be assumed that this means that the Fund is not
investing in companies complicit with the Occupation and illegal settlements.
- List of shareholdings. Some funds will publish a list of current investments and
shareholdings. Those of public bodies can often be accessed on the world wide web. Other
funds will be less forthcoming but shareholders should insist on seeing an up to date list of
For more information on how to promote a disinvestment campaign go towww.stuc.org.uk/palestine The role of the British public can be crucial in pushing for different forms of sanctions againstIsrael, within a variety of campaigns. These encompass trade, oil, military, travel and diplomaticsanctions, which can be implemented from the local level, on a national scale, within the EU andacross the wider international community.
Mutual trade with the UK and EU should be subjected to sanctions. The Israeli economy is
particularly reliant on the EU for both imports and exports markets, in the sectors of services
and technology, arms, diamonds and fresh produce. The application of sanctions would increase
the burden on the economy and place significant pressure on Israel to implement international
law and the rights of the Palestinian people. The suspension of the EU-Israel Trade Agreement,
for Israel's breaches of human rights clauses, is a priority within solidarity work in the UK. Write
to the Foreign Secretary and MEPs. See sample letters at www.stuc.org.uk/palestine
Israel's acceptance into the United Nations was conditional on its acceptance andimplementation of UN Resolution 194. This resolution affirms the right of all Palestinians toreturn to their homes and lands from where they were exiled in 1948, requires Israel tocompensate for losses, and stipulates that Palestinians must be compensated and relocatedshould they choose not to return to their communities. Israel refuses to abide by this resolutionalong with many others.
Diplomatic links including relations on an official level, participation in external forums andnetworks and meetings between state representatives should be suspended. This shouldexclude UN sanctioned negotiations on peace and the future of Israel/Palestine.
Israel's military industry is unusual compared to other states in that production is geared
towards external markets, bringing in vital investment for the economy. Israel has a shortfall in
domestic production and imports military goods from the US and some EU states (often with
A sanctions campaign looks to cut off an important sector of the Israeli economy, which hascaused mini weapons races across the world, fuelled various conflicts and assisted variousregimes, dictators and juntas. It also seeks to halt the arming of Israel where it is unable tosource military goods domestically and end the global complicity in Israeli crimes againstPalestinians.
What trade union organisations can do
- Lobby MPs who are supported by your union to speak out in favour of sanctions on Israel.
- Contact your local MP by letter or by visiting their surgery.
- Undertake appropriate campaigning activities such as holding a public meeting or leafleting.
Solidarity and Practical Support
In addition to undertaking targeted BDS campaigns, Scottish unions are actively working topromote positive links with their counterparts in Palestine through providing practical assis-tance to their brothers and sisters.
Fire Brigades Union and the Nablus Firefighters
After 9 months of fundraising and organising the Fire BrigadesUnion in Scotland was able to welcome 8 firefighters fromNablus, Palestine. Nablus has a population of approx 300,000and has 72 firefighters.
For three weeks from October through to November 2009the 8 members of the Nablus Fire Department were inScotland to receive intensive training. This consisted of twoweeks at the Fire Service College at Gullane, then one week based in Dundee (twin city to Nablus). This was followed by a further week training inManchester.
At the end of the programme the firefighters returned toNablus to become training instructors for the FireDepartment.
The visit was co-ordinated by FBU Scotland and wassupported by the Scottish Government, SFSC Gullane, Lothian& Borders FRS, Tayside FRS and many others.
Supporting Palestinian Education
UCU organised two seminars for representatives of UCU branches andlocal associations, on twinningand exchanges with Palestinianeducators and researchers. The The Right to Education
seminars allowed participants to Campaign is engaged in
share experiences and good activities in Palestine and practice, with the aim of worldwide through a growing international network of support. encouraging further twinning Driven by academics and between UCU branches and students in Palestine, the developing a wider range of potential partnerships.
Campaign's activities are a In particular the seminars examined defense against the denial of the • institutional links (eg, college to college, university right to education under Israeli military occupation. Affiliation to to university, etc) the Right to Education Campaign • ‘union to union' links; and includes a subscription to the • community twinning and exchanges.
bi-monthly Right to Education UCU and other unions also supports the Friends of Bir Zeit University www.fobzu.org UNISON and the PGFTU
In mid-2008 the TUC launched an appeal for funding for a series of capacity-building projects tobe run by the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU). UNISON agreed to funda project on "StrengtheningWorkers Awareness of theirRights" and this project, alongwith the others, has been runningfor approximately a year.
About 20 union membersattended a course on the electionand duties of workplace reps.
UNISON is currently discussingthe extension of this project aswell as other proposals includingsupporting the PGFTU HealthServices Federation.
We urge you to consider purchasing Zaytoun products. Zaytoun olive oil is
100% produced by an independent cooperative of Palestinian farmers in the
occupied West Bank. With no funds for marketing, these farmers have worked
over the last few years, against the odds, to build up a customer base in Britain.
They have to confront major obstacles created by the Israeli occupation and
closure policies. They have slowly been making inroads into UK health food
shops, charity outlets and the occasional supermarket. They depend mainly on groups of
committed human rights activists, of all faiths and of none, personally canvassing potential
outlets and selling bottles of oil to individual supporters. The list of suppliers can be found on
their website www.zaytoun.org
Hadeel is a Fair Trade shop which aims to provide a sustainable source of
income for craftspeople working with social enterprises in the West Bank,
Gaza, Lebanon, as well as one in the Galilee and another in the Negev. Its
work also helps to sustain infrastructures, as many of the producer groups
also provide health, education and emergency services in their communities
which lack any form of local government which might do this. Hadeel is a
sister shop to Sunbula which is at St. Andrew's Church, Jerusalem, and work
closely with Zaytoun in the UK. Hadeel produce can be located at their
Appendix 1 - Resources
All of the documents within this pack are held at www.stuc.org.uk/palestine. The site will build
a range of additional resources such as model letters and print quality pdfs for leaflets.
Short film on the STUC's fact finding mission to Israel and Palestine in March 2009.
The website of the global BDS movement contains a wide range of resources for those wishing
to pursue campaigns
The Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Scottish Jews for a just peace
War on Want fights poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by
globalisation. It campaigns for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty,
inequality and injustice. Download the report Profiting from the Occupation at this site.
Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in
Ramallah, West Bank. Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of
law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the organisation has special consultative status
with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories was established in
1989 by a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members. It
endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights
violations in the Occupied Territories, combat the phenomenon of denial prevalent among the
Israeli public, and help create a human rights culture in Israel
Coalition of Women for Peace
Coalition of Women for Peace subsite identifying companies which profit from the Occupation
Palestine Israel Ethical Shopping Initiative
Appendix 2 - Israeli companies operating in settlements
A total of 27 Israeli companies operating in settlements and exporting to the United Kingdom havebeen identified:· Fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs: Agrexco, Arava, Flowers Direct, Hadiklaim, Mehadrin Tnuport Other food products: Abady Bakery, Achdut, Adumim Food Additives/Frutarom, Amnon & Tamar, Oppenheimer, Shamir Salads· Beverages: Adanim Tea, Soda-Club, Tishbi Estate Winery Cosmetics: Dead Sea Laboratories, Intercosma Plastic products: Keter Plastic, Tip Top Toys, Twitoplast Metal products: DiSTeK, Mul-T-Lock, Yardeni Locks Textile products: Caesarea Carpets, Dispobud, Ofertex Other products: Greenkote In most cases these companies export products produced in settlements in the occupied territoriesto the United Kingdom, sometimes mixed with products from Israel proper. In some cases theexported products are produced solely in Israel, but the company is listed here as it has a majoroffice or factory in the settlements.
For 25 of these 27 companies a total of 51 British trading partners were found: 12 British marketingsubsidiaries of the Israeli companies concerned and 39 British importers and retailers (see paragraph3.12). Fruit and vegetables exported by these settlement companies are sold by major UK high streetretailers, such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Somerfield. Other products exported by settlementcompanies are sold by well-known British retail chains, such as Marks & Spencer (M&S), John Lewisand B&Q.
The following British companies sell products from more than one Israeli company linked to theIsraeli settlements in the West Bank: Just Kosher is linked to six companies: Abadi Bakery, Achdut, Adanim Tea, Amnon & Tamar,Oppenheimer, Shamir Salads.
Tesco is linked to four companies: Arava, Hadiklaim, Mehadrin-Tnuport, Soda-Club.
Sainsbury's is linked to two companies: Hadiklaim, Soda-Club.
John Lewis (including its supermarket division Waitrose) is linked to two companies: Ahava,Hadiklaim Argos is linked to two companies: Keter Plastic, Soda-Club.
Other British business links with the occupied territories
Three British companies with investments in settlements in territories occupied by Israel have been
Hanson UK is a supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry. It has a subsidiary in Israel which owns factories and quarries in the West Bank. Hanson UK was acquired inSeptember 2007 by German company HeidelbergCement.
· British Israel Investment is an Israeli property company owning a shopping mall in Maaleh Adumim, a settlement in the occupied West Bank. The major shareholder of British Israel Investmentis the British businessman Leo Noë, the executive chairman of F&C REIT Asset Management.
· Unilever is a major Anglo-Dutch food, detergent and personal care company which owns a 51% share in Beigel & Beigel, a pretzel and snacks factory located in a settlement in the occupied WestBank. Unilever recently announced that it will sell its stake in Beigel & Beigel.
Taken from page ii-iii of http://www.soas.ac.uk/lawpeacemideast/file49531.pdf Appendix 3 - STUC General Council Report
At STUC Congress 2007 a resolution requested the General Council explore the calls for boycott,disinvestments and sanctions (BDS)against the state of Israel until it complied with universal lawand international principles of human rights. Since this resolution was carried the GeneralCouncil has given careful and urgent consideration to the BDS calls. The STUC has consultedwith its affiliates, considered the implications of BDS, discussed BDS with its stakeholders andinvited views and comments from interested groups and communities. In March 2009 a delegationfrom the General Council visited Palestine and Israel. This enabled the STUC to speak directlywith trade unionists in Palestine and Israel, to discuss the BDS calls with them, and to see thesituation in the region ourselves.
This report explains the process undertaken by the General Council in exploring the BDS calls. Itthen makes a recommendation on behalf of the General Council. This recommendation is forconsideration by the STUC's Annual Congress on 22 April 2009.
The Boycott, Disinvestments and Sanctions Discussion
The General Council has given serious consideration over the past couple of years to the issue ofboycott, disinvestments and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international principles ofhuman rights and international laws, such as the Geneva Conventions and United Nations SecurityCouncil resolutions. In September 2007 the General Council agreed a process for exploring theBDS calls, which included developing a greater understanding of BDS and achieving its statedaims; establishing the position of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions; seeking theviews of STUC affiliates, the wider trade union movement, as well as other stakeholders; andseeking the views of Histadrut on this matter. A report on the progress with this work was given toCongress in April 2008. A motion to Congress 2008 on BDS (which was remitted), and questionsto the General Council, underlined the urgency with which Congress wished this matter to beaddressed.
The General Council undertook to participate in a delegation to Palestine and Israel as part of thedeliberations on BDS. This delegation provided vital information and experiences which havecontributed to the conclusions drawn by the General Council. A formal consultation withstakeholders provided invaluable comments and views, and has helped to shape the final decisionand the campaign that the General Council wishes to pursue on this matter.
STUC Delegation to Palestine and Israel
A delegation from the General Council visited Palestine and Israel between 28 February – 7March 2009. The delegation consisted of eleven senior trade unionists, including the GeneralSecretary, General Council members, and Scottish trade union leaders. A full report from the is available on the STUC's website, and from Congress Office.
The delegation saw for themselves the growing Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the WestBank, the separation wall, the checkpoints and the restrictions on movement. The delegation alsosaw the poverty in Palestine, and a refugee camp in East Jerusalem. On a visit to Sderot, on theborder with Gaza, the delegation saw how the rocket attacks affect the lives of Israelis.
The delegation heard a similar message from the leadership of Histadrut, Israel's Welfare MinisterYitzchak Hertzog, the Foreign Affairs Officials, and from the Sderot Municipal representative.
This message was of the importance of dialogue, the constructive relationship between Histadrutand the PGFTU, and the key problem that Israel does not have a partner in Palestine to work withfor peace. Hamas was derided as a terrorist organisation which was operated from Iran, andwhich did not recognise Israel's right to exist. There was a failure to recognise that Palestinianshad supported Hamas in democratic elections. There was no attempt to try to comprehend whysome Palestinians would vote for an extreme and violent organisation.
The delegation heard of attacks on human rights of Palestinians from many organisations includinghuman rights organisations Al-Haq and B'Tselem, the campaign group Breaking the Silence, thetrade unionists at Birzeit University, the BDS campaign in Ramallah, the International LabourOrganisation, as well as from the PGFTU.
The PGFTU told the delegation that the decision on BDS is one for organisations like the STUCto take for themselves. Other groups including the Palestine Women's General Federation, andthe BZT Union of Professors and Employees strongly encouraged the STUC to support BDSbecause of the attacks on human rights of Palestinians. The Palestinian Planning Minister withinthe Ministry of Labour told the delegation that he believed the only way Israel would change itspolicy towards the Palestinians was if it was isolated from the rest of the world. He also said thatmost Palestinian workers in Israel are employed in the construction and service sectors, and,therefore, are not working in the sectors which would be primarily targeted by BDS.
B'Tselem told the delegation how the Israeli settlements and the restrictions on movement are atthe heart of most human rights violations. The human rights organisation Al-Haq explained thatboycott is a personal decision for groups, where as international laws, such as the GenevaConvention, set out that where breaches occur the signatories to legislation have a duty to imposesanctions. Al-Haq itself is involved in pursuing the British Government in UK Courts because ofits failure to censure Israel for breaching the Geneva Convention.
Views of Affiliates
The General Council sought views from affiliates on the issue of BDS in January 2008 and again inJune 2008. The General Council received responses from six of its affiliates. It is worth notingthat a number of those submitting views forwarded resolutions from their own conferences, andthat since views have been submitted, subsequent conference resolutions have changed or addedto these policy positions.
STUC General Council Report
A number of these responses clearly supported BDS, one opposed BDS, and another explainedthat it had legal advice stating it was not within the union's power to call for or implement aboycott. The STUC's two largest affiliates support some kind of boycotting action. A report onthe responses is available at www.stuc.org.uk/palestine Consultation with Interested Parties
The General Council sought views from a number of groups and organisations who have an interestin the issue of BDS in January 2009. Helpful submissions were received from organisations andfaith groups which addressed a number of issues including: the peace process, the potential impact of BDS on the economies of Israel and Palestine, the relationship between Histadrut and the PGFTU, comparisons with apartheid South Africa, the impact of BDS upon communities in Scotland, the debate on the breadth or not of the call for BDS, views on the targets of BDS, the role of the STUC.
A report analysing the views of interested parties is attached at Appendix B.
Whilst not part of the formal consultation with interested groups and organisations, it is worthrecording that the STUC engaged in informal dialogue with representatives of the Equality andHuman Rights Commission in Scotland. The purpose of this discussion was to consider any issuesfor the STUC in taking a decision to call for BDS, in terms of equality and human rights laws inScotland and the UK. The advice received emphasised the importance of taking a rights basedapproach, and balancing the human rights of the different groups affected in this debate.
General Council Recommendation
The General Council is recommending that Congress should take a position of: supporting boycotts and disinvestments against Israel, calling for sanctions against Israel, encouraging positive investments in the occupied territories.
The General Council is recommending this action because of Israel's attacks on the human rightsof Palestinian people, and its failure to comply with agreed international law. The STUC stronglysupports a peaceful two state solution in Palestine and Israel. It is deeply disappointed at thefailure of negotiation and diplomacy to achieve the two state solution to date. By taking theposition of supporting boycott and disinvestments and by calling for sanctions, the STUC hopes tobring economic, political and social pressure on the government of Israel and the world's powers, to reach a peaceful solution through dialogue. The STUC also intends to draw greater attention tothe fact that international human rights laws are being violated by Israel.
In reaching this decision, the STUC has considered the views and comments of significant groupsof people, not least the people of Palestine whose human rights are infringed on a daily basis. Weare very clear that our position is taken because of the actions of the Israeli state. However, theSTUC wants to do all that it can to ensure that our decision does not impact detrimentally uponcommunities in Scotland. We envisage a targeted consumer led boycott, where trade unionmembers should not put their own jobs at risk by refusing to deal with Israeli products, or workwith organisations that are involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Rather, these trade unionmembers have a campaigning role, in working with their employers to raise greater awareness ofthe issues and the case for boycott. The campaign will encourage trade unionists to boycottgoods and especially agricultural products that have been produced in the illegal Israeli settlementsin the Occupied Territories. The STUC recognises the place of Israeli goods, such as kosherproducts, in Jewish religious observance, and wishes to ensure that a consumer boycott is targetedso that it does not affect, as far as practicable, religious observance.
The campaign should develop and encourage a greater awareness of organisations' investmentsand interests in companies which are supporting the occupation. The STUC is particularlyencouraging campaigns of disinvestment (or divesting) in companies associated with the occupation.
Publicly calling for sanctions against Israel for its breaches of international laws and human rightsviolations is an important element of the campaign. Sanctions are a valid action imposed upon aparty or nation where it has breached agreed rules. The STUC will raise the matter with the BritishGovernment, impressing upon them their obligations as signatories of the Geneva Conventions,and as United Nations Security Council members. The sanctions campaign, in pressurising theBritish Government, European Union institutions, and other nations, is vital to protect the integrityof agreed international laws and to uphold the rights of victims of human rights abuses.
The STUC acknowledges its relationship with both PGFTU and Histadrut and supports thedevelopment of a constructive dialogue between them. The STUC will explain its position onBDS to Histadrut, and will, over the next 12 months, raise with them Histadrut positions in relationto Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The STUC will review its relationship withHistadrut in this context.
Whilst recognising this paper and recommendation is a starting point for this campaign within theSTUC, the General Council acknowledges the urgency of the situation facing Palestinian people.
To ensure that the campaign is effective, and to make this decision meaningful for trade unionmembers in Scotland, and appropriate for particular workplaces, the STUC and affiliates willneed to take forward further work and activity. The General Council urges Congress to supporta continual awareness raising process on these issues, to provide guidance and support to affiliates,and to ensure that a BDS campaign, along with positive investment in the Palestinian territories, iseffective.
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