Family courts union rejects boycott call

By Marcus Dysch, October 19, 2011

Probation officers and court staff have rejected a boycott of Israel proposed at their union's annual conference.

NAPO - the union and campaign group which represents more than 9,000 officers and family court workers - debated two anti-Israel motions at its AGM in Eastbourne on October 8 - Yom Kippur.

The union's Family Court section had put forward a motion stating that it was "alarmed and horrified by Israel's repeated violations of international law in their treatment of Palestinian children".

The motion proposed to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign and encouraged individual members to promote BDS efforts.

A second proposal sought to align NAPO with the Trades Union Congress's stance on Israel and the Palestinians. The TUC has backed boycotts of Israel and made partnerships with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

But NAPO delegates defeated the composite motions by just three votes. The exact number who voted has not been made public but the JC understands around 600 NAPO members attended the conference.

NAPO national rep Jack Cohen, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Barnet and former chair of the union's Greater London branch, said: "I'm delighted that conference threw out this anti-Israel motion. It makes a refreshing change to the usual carrying of similar motions by other unions.

"Members protested that this debate took place on Yom Kippur. I was unable to attend because of this, but briefed colleagues who spoke out passionately against the motion."

One motion noted "dismay" at the clash with Yom Kippur and encouraged union bosses to avoid the date in future years to allow Jewish delegates to attend.

Last updated: 12:00pm, October 19 2011