Be afraid: the Elfins are boycotting Israel

Woodcraft Folk aged nine vote at conference in Ashdown Forest

By Jessica Elgot, July 15, 2010
Hey ho, it’s off to work we go… to implement sanctions against Israel

Hey ho, it’s off to work we go… to implement sanctions against Israel

Children as young as nine voted to boycott Israeli goods as part of the annual meeting of education group Woodcraft Folk last week.

The organisation, which runs weekly sessions for children including singing, dancing, craft and eco-projects, voted for the boycott at its conference in Ashdown Forest, west Sussex. The 150 delegates included members aged from nine - known as "Elfins"- to 20 years old.

The emergency motion was proposed by WF international secretary Paul Bemrose, as a response, he said, to the deaths on the Gaza flotilla. The last motion of the day, it was passed by a sizeable majority. There were only two speeches, one from Mr Bemrose and one from Daniel Rawnsley, a member of the general council, who spoke against a boycott.

All members have agreed to boycott buying Israeli goods until the Israeli blockade on Gaza is completely lifted.

General secretary Jon Nott said: "It isn't an anti-Israel motion. The emergency motion was proposed in the aftermath of the attack on the peace flotilla."

He added: "It is not unusual for us to engage our young members in political activities. We had a long history campaigning against apartheid South Africa. We are very keen to work with both sides of the wall."

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, WF chair, said that the group had a long history of supporting Israeli workers and had last year passed a motion of solidarity with sarvanim, young people who refuse to serve in the IDF.

The WF movement was developed by Leslie Paul in 1925, with a strong pagan and anti-capitalist ethos.

Older Woodcraft Folk have recently visited Israel and the Palestinian areas, touring Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem with the Palestinian Independent Youth Movement and Israeli socialist group No'al. The group also visited east Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Last updated: 11:50am, July 15 2010