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Should the Union boycott Israeli goods?

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Name of proposer:

Irial Eno


Idea Title:

Should the Union boycott Israeli goods?


What the idea is about:

Remove Israeli goods (such as sweet peppers and oranges) from the Union co-operative shelves, and prevent other Union food outlets from selling Israeli products.


Why have you proposed it?:

Israeli settlements are illegal under rulings of the International Court of Justice, UN Resolution 446, the Fourth Geneva Convention and, overwhelmingly, the international community, including the EU and the UK.

Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are all under an illegal occupation by Israel, which profits from exporting goods, including fruits, vegetables and herbs grown in illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land into the UK.

Most British supermarkets, including the Co-op, now claim to no longer stock goods from illegal settlements. However, they continue to source products from within internationally recognised Israeli borders, from companies that also profit from exporting settlement goods. The sale of products from these companies help to sustain their operations in the settlements.

In supporting companies that also sell illegal settlement goods, our Union is complicit in violations of international law and the colonisation of Palestinian lands.

In a historic move, the National Union of Students (NUS) in the UK has thrown its weight behind campaigns targeting companies complicit in Israel's occupation and breaches of international law. The TUC has also passed a landmark policy to boycott all companies complicit in the illegal occupation. The universities of Edinburgh, Cambridge, Manchester, Kings College London and London School of Economics, amongst others, have all passed motions boycotting Israeli produce.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said of his trip to Palestine:

'I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about'.

I believe our union has a moral responsibility to heed the call of the oppressed people, like so many university campuses did against South African apartheid in the eighties.




The Panel voted on this Idea:


Yes 4 No 10


This Idea has gone to Referendum


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Leen Barghouti
5:16pm on 2 May 12 Finally, just to reiterate, there are many Israelis who support the boycott of Israeli goods, one notable is Ilan Pappe an academic, 'the Israeli occupation is a dynamic process and it becomes worse with each passing day. People can choose to stand by and do nothing, or to be part of a historical movement similar to the anti-apartheid campaign against the white supremacist regime in South Africa. By choosing the latter, it can move us forward along the only remaining viable and non-violent road to saving both Palestinians and Israelis from an impending catastrophe.' -Ilan Pappe, Israeli academic.
Leen Barghouti
5:13pm on 2 May 12 To suggest that such a motion marganilizes Israeli students and racist is to assume that there is liberty and equality within the Israeli society. Sure, settlements are illegal in international law, there is no contention surrounding that, even the US agrees on that and the 4th Geneva Convention reiterates that fact. But the situation at hand is, can we separate the Israeli government from the illegal settlement? Can we separate Israeli government from the occupation? This is in no way against any Israeli students, for many Israeli students, and not attack on Israeli citizens either. Just like the boycott of South African goods was not an attack on the white South African citizens. It is almost ridiculous to suggest that it would harm Palestinian business and Palestinian people. The root of the problem here is the occupation, and this motion aims to end cooperation with a state that is the occupier and has over 60 racist and discriminated policies. The boycott is not an attack on Israeli students, just like the UK's sanctions against Iran is not motivated by hatred for the Iranian people or racism, it is take a stance against the ongoing injustice and human rights. It took 20 years for the boycott of South African goods to gain moment and the argument against it was always 'it's far too complex, boycotting would not solve anything, etc', but it was student activism and boycotting that finally brought justice to South Africa.
Samuel Mohr
3:17pm on 2 May 12 This whole idea is simply unjustified and poorly thought out. Firstly the claims to apartheid are simply preposterous. Israel has a 20% Arab/Palestinian population with full democratic rights, and members of parliament and the only country in the middle east which protects gay rights and freedom of religion and expression. Yes I understand that a boycott of settlement produce might be justified due to illegalities of settlement building under international law. However calling for a boycott of all Israeli products is a discriminatory attack on the Israeli people and Israeli students. This view is further justified by the fact that the coop who supply essentials will not purchase produce from settlements or settlement linked companies. Therefore boycotting all Israeli produce fails to recognise the work of legitimate israeli business which we should be integrating not pushing away. A boycott of all Israeli produce could also include those purchased from Palestinian farmers and sold via Israel for example olive oil. You must also question where does it stop. Israel has given us mobile phones and the intel computer chip? If we are really serious about boycotting Israel maybe boycott those too? As James said where does this end? China too? As a student at Leeds I want to support Israel - surely we should have the free choice to buy whatever peppers we like? This proposal marginalises a number of students in order to please another, who could simply just choose not to buy the two or three things the union sells which are sourced from Israel.
Ramzi Cherad
11:46am on 2 May 12 Britain’s fifth-largest food retailers’ boycott on products from Israeli settlements
Aaron Cohen-Gold
7:52pm on 30 Apr 12 The answer should categorically be 'no'. The reasoning for this motion rests squarely with settlements, yet the motion then applies to Israel as a whole. Whilst a case for Aparthied in the West Bank is plausible (though hotly disputed an rightly so), it is absurd at best and racist at worst to assume that suggestion for israel as a whole. When considering the atrocities committed by Israel's neighbours vis a vis the Arab Spring in recent months, it makes no political sense to isolate Israel and ignore the far worse, far more stringent and far more brutal oppression suffered by those around the country being isolate in this motion. If, in this most controversial and complex of conflicts, settlements are a key issue then resulting political motions should be about them, not excused by them.
Samuel Brightbart
9:16pm on 25 Apr 12 I very much agree with what James says. Israel is one of the most prominent examples of a country that makes profit from settlements that are illegal under international law. They are therefore one of the most obvious choices for a boycott. It is not the case that they are being chosen arbitrarily over dozens of equally viable candidates for boycott.
James Killin
2:22pm on 24 Apr 12 There is already a tangible, successful BDS campaign against Israel, and that is the campaign from which this motion takes its inspiration. BDS is a Palestinian initiative, proposed to international communities, so rather than being what the above commenter seems to intimate is a ‘picking and choosing’ of which oppressed peoples to support, it is a response to an action that is already taking place. It is not a campaign to "attack" Israel, but a campaign to support Palestinian resistance. This is not an abstract, random proposal; there are many Palestinian students on campus who are directly affected by Israel’s actions, and the success of this motion would be a sign that the Union accepts this, and is working to limit its complicity in the on-going occupation of Palestine. If this policy could get people interested in campaigning against the crimes of the Israeli government, then it could also inspire them to go and work on other campaigns. It is not restrictive, but is rather a gateway to much more activism. I take issue with the suggestion that, if we cannot help everybody, it is too ‘sensitive’ an issue for us to think about helping anybody. If you truly believe that we all “want a better world,” then I would wholeheartedly urge you to seize an opportunity such as this.
James Hanson
7:18pm on 23 Apr 12 The problem is, where does this end? Do we not supply any Chinese made goods (and that is a heck of a lot) because of its undemocratic government and human rights violations. Of course we want a better world, but there are huge inconsistencies by suggesting it is right to ban produce from one regime, but not from another.
Conor Walsh
4:17pm on 23 Apr 12 A progressive policy. Well done.
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