Leon Symons – The Jewish Chronichle July 30, 2009
At the anti-Israel organisation’s recent annual meeting, activists discussed a survey of its members which showed clear support for a comprehensive boycott. More than 400 JFJFP activists responded to the survey.
The meeting considered three options, based on the survey results: “1. That we maintain our present position; 2. That we will consider, on a case-by-case basis, smart boycotts against the occupation; 3. That we will consider, on a case-by-case basis, smart boycotts but not restricted to the occupation.”
The meeting voted for the third option, which would enable JFJFP to initiate or support boycotts of all Israeli goods and services.
In a letter sent to members on Monday, after the meeting, the executive recommends option two, which would widen the group’s activities beyond its current focus on the settlements to taking in everything connected to what it terms the “occupation”.
This would mean boycotting companies, goods and services that could be shown to be connected directly to the Occupied Territories. That would include targeting those who refuse to say whether or not they worked in the Occupied Territories.
In explaining the detail of this option, the JFJFP executive say: “By targeting Israel’s policy of colonisation, this also avoids the accusation — important for an organisation like JFJFP — of being anti-Israel.”
Recommending option two, the executive say it is, among other things, best “for minimising the inevitable misrepresentation of our position in such a way as to make work directed at those who belong to Jewish communal organisations much harder than it is at present”.
The survey shows that the executive is worried about the impact of adopting a wider boycott strategy on the group’s reputation among Jews. Question two asks: “Do you think adopting a broader boycott position would make JFJFP more, or less, attractive to Jews in Britain who take issue with Israeli policy but have not chosen to express that concern by becoming a JFJFP signatory?”
Two-hundred and forty seven out of the 417 respondents said they thought JFJFP would be much less attractive. Another 96 stayed neutral.
JFJFP currently supports a ban on the importation of all settlement produce and claims it was “a very significant contributor to the process whereby the UK government strongly objected to the mislabelling of goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territories”.
It also supports the boycott of companies such as Caterpillar, which it says is “involved in home demolitions and the destruction of, for example, olive groves in order to build the barrier”.
It backs the boycott of companies involved in supporting settlements and demands “an end to the sale of arms to Israel and any purchase of arms or security equipment from Israel”.
The meeting also included a series of workshops exploring how anti-Israel activists should respond to various situations, using recent events as the basis for discussion.
These included the Zionist Federation’s hire of the Bloomsbury Theatre, the Edinburgh Film Festival’s acceptance of Israeli sponsorship and the announcement of a Leonard Cohen concert in Israel.
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