AUSTRALIA: Five Australian unions support BDS pf Israel 19Nov10 November 20, 2010

Alternative Information Centre -  16 November 2010

Five Australian unions have joined the international campaign advocating the boycott of Israeli goods from the occupied West Bank.
The Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Queensland branch of the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Finance Sector Union passed a resolution in late October supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, reported the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Peter Tighe, national secretary of the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, told The Australian newspaper, “We are not anti-Jewish, we just think the human misery over there is outrageous.”

Tighe plans to take a resolution to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the nation’s top union body, endorsing the boycott, according to the JTA.

The union’s announcement came just before Palestine solidarity activists gathered in Melbourne for Australia’s first national BDS conference. Around 100 activists from across Australia participated in the conference, held from October 29-31, during which they worked to establish a national agenda for the BDS campaign, coordinated actions, and participated in workshops and sector-based discussion.

Palestinian artist and activist Rafeef Ziadah was one of the main speakers at the conference.

“There was so much enthusiasm and dedication from the various Palestine solidarity groups. People really put differences aside and decided to work together in a non-sectarian way”, she told Green Left Weekly.

The conference adopted a four-stage calendar of actions for the BDS campaign, including a Christmas consumer boycott campaign, campus actions for the international Israeli Apartheid Week coinciding with Palestinian Land Day on March 30, and other actions coinciding with al-Nakba (the anniversary of the Palestinian expulsion from Israel in 1948) on May 15 and another in late September, reported Green Left.
“The vote on beginning a coordinated BDS campaign across many cities in Australia is … a terrific starting point. [It's] really what this conference was about, bringing BDS work together and coordinating it,” said Ziadah.

“Getting activists in Australian cities talking about Israel as an apartheid state is a great achievement. The international BDS movement is only five years old, yet already we have students and trade unionists and people from different walks of life working together,” she added, saying, “The key now is doing the rank-and-file education and taking BDS actions.”

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