When the TUC announced a comprehensive boycott of Israeli goods, sizeable surprise arose.
The move was to be a bold step in the direction of acknowledging the rights of the Palestinians and the injustice of the occupation.
But reality, which whispered that it was as likely to proceed as the devil would float passed in a glacier, won out:
Union leaders today backed off from calling for a comprehensive boycott of consumer goods produced in Israel after frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations at the TUC Congress.
The statement read: “To increase the pressure for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories and the removal of the separation wall and illegal settlements we will support a boycott of those goods and agricultural products that originate in illegal settlements through developing an effective, targeted consumer-led boycott campaign.” [Source]
The commuted decision to boycott select goods has been welcomed by pro-Palestinian groups, hinting at the possibility of an extended boycott in future.
Perhaps it is cynicism winning out, but I cannot stifle a degree of ambivalence.
Restricting the boycott to “illegal” settlements does not address the problem; sure, it is a start, but it is a tepid, testing one that is unlikely to evolve beyond the token gesture.
Nevertheless, any progress is good progress – and the move is not without consideration:
This is not a call for a general boycott of Israeli goods and services which would hit ordinary Palestinian and Israeli workers, but targeted, consumer-led sanctions directed at businesses based in, and sustaining, the illegal settlements.
That the boycott could bear repercussions for Palestinians is oft-overlooked in the heat of activism; perhaps the slow approach is what is needed, frustrating though it might be.