Scottish TUC set to call for boycott and divestment

The Scottish Trades Union Conference is expected next week to rubber-stamp plans for a boycott of Israel.

Delegates at its annual congress will vote on whether to implement recommendations from a two-year investigation by its general council into alleged Israeli violations of human rights.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) has warned that the proposal for boycott, divestment and sanctions would expose Jews to attack, and has requested an urgent meeting with the organisation.

An STUC delegation went to Israel and the Palestinian territories in early March. Their visit followed a resolution at its 2007 annual congress to investigate the merits of a boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Delegates met Israeli and Palestinian trade union representatives and were given guided tours of Sderot, Yad Vashem, and towns in the West Bank and Gaza. They laid a wreath at Yasir Arafat’s grave in Ramallah.

Their report of the visit concluded: “In light of what we witnessed and heard in our meetings… it is the delegation’s view that the General Council should recommend to the annual congress the need to take a position of supporting boycott and divestments, and calling for sanctions against Israel because of the Israeli state’s violation of human rights.”

A STUC spokesman said the general council would study the report and decide on its recommendation on Sunday. It is expected to propose a motion to go before the congress in Perth on Wednesday.

SCoJeC director Ephraim Borowski said: “We are saddened that the delegation ignored the growing level of expressly antisemitic abuse in this country and seem prepared to accept allegations against Israel virtually without question. They have given no consideration to the impact that a boycott would have on the Jewish community in Scotland, particularly since there is ample evidence that anti-Israel campaigners are often less than scrupulous in distinguishing Jews from Israelis.”

At Trade Union Friends of Israel, Steve Scott said the consequences of a boycott would be far-reaching.

“There would be an international backlash against STUC from trade unions. We understand STUC feel strongly about the issues surrounding the Palestinians, but where unions can make a difference is by getting together on jobs, job protection and wages. This is where efforts should be going, not on boycotts that would damage relationships.

“A boycott would affect Palestinian workers as much as Israelis, particularly in the agriculture and processing industries.”

    Last updated: 10:00am, April 17 2009