March 25, 2008

BDS would end funding and partnership for anti-pollution project

Posted in cooperation, pollution, water at 12:12 pm by Mira Vogel

Cooperation along the lines of the Stream Restoration Project undertaken by Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Ben Gurion’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Palestinian NGO Water and Environmental Development Organization (WEDO), and Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Conservation and Nature Research.

Background in last December’s Haaretz.

The ultimate aim of this research is to lay the foundations for an effective river restoration strategy for Israel and Palestine. This research is funded by the Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

MERC projects must include at least one Israeli and one Arab partner. It’s obvious that the “broad” boycott, divestment and sanctions “similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era” as called for by the BDS campaign and supported by the Green Party in Resolution C05, would harm this project, its developing partnerships, the state of the water, and the plants and animals living in it.

BDS looks less and less like good Green policy.

Hat tip: Hamish Q Cumber.



  1. Matt Sellwood said,


    If I recall correctly, no-one who sponsored the amendments to C05 actually came to Conference to speak. I hope that, as well as putting together this website, people will be using the (extremely open) democratic structures of the Party to have this discussion?


  2. Mira said,

    Matt, no arguments with that. But I should point out that the Green BDS motion is part of a wider boycott campaign beyond the Green Party, which aims to delegitimise and ultimately put an end to Israel. I am much more familiar with it than I care to be. I also know that democratic structures don’t necessarily engender democratic decisions – in the case of UCU, for example, only a very small proportion of members vote and the activists are unrepresentative in their politics on Israel.

    I know from experience that the discussion – or at least the debunking part – must also happen in public.

  3. Aled Dilwyn Fisher said,

    But this is supposed to be a website of Green Party members against a specific Green Party policy, isn’t it?

    We have the most open and democratic internal structures of any party in Britain – any member can propose or speak for or against a motion and produce amendments. Every member has an equal vote, whether they’re Caroline Lucas MEP or just plain old me.

    So why did you not engage (!) with the motion? The irony is – you boycotted it! If you’re sure of your arguments, then you shouldn’t have to fear bringing them onto Conference floor – it’s a welcoming atmosphere, where people in the same party, with shared principles, debate and settle our differences in a comradely fashion. If you couldn’t make it, then that does change things and that’s a real shame, but there must have been someone there to oppose it (if not, why propose it?), and there are provisions within the Standing Orders to have party-wide referenda through postal ballots on important policy areas (like the recent leadership referendum).

    But, instead, we have a blog sniping at the party, some of its best members and personally attacking me just for disagreeing with you.

    Furthermore, I don’t know any people who are for the boycott but also want to “ultimately put an end to Israel”. Please provide evidence before making such accusations. Certainly, no one in the Green Party is for the destruction of the country – in fact, I want to see a solution to the conflict that is sustainable and just. That’s why I support a one state solution – a multinational, multi-ethnic state in which all races, religions and peoples can live in peace. I’m not sure how that fits into some plot to “put an end” to anyone…

  4. miravogel said,


    I can only speak for me – I had no chance to affect this boycott in advance because I’m a new member of the Greens (and if I didn’t care about Green politics do you think I’d have joined? I wouldn’t.) Even then it’s not an inevitability that I would have been at Conference. If you’re suggesting that all members are obliged to be ultra-active and vigilant about all aspects of party policy in order to earn their right to a say, then membership will inevitably be small.

    This blog isn’t a snipe “at the party”. For a start it is in opposition to C05, not the party. The whole premise is that C05 *isn’t* Green. For seconds it isn’t sniping – we are named, it’s out in the open. Unless you are trying to suggest that Green Party members can’t keep public web sites which are critical of specific Green Party issues. Which would be somewhat authoritarian, and clearly you don’t mean that. It’s 2008 – debates happen online, and they’re all the more formative for it.

    Despite your protest to the contrary, Motion C05 as worded is ineed hostile to Israel’s existence. It demands the unconditional right of millions (rather than the thousands agreed at Taba – else it would have referred to specific peace plans) of descendents of Palestinian refugees to take citizenship in Israel, or by endorsing “broad boycotts” and “divestment initiatives” according to the Palestine BDS Campaign to block supplies vital to Israel’s existence. Meanwhile Hamas is left alone by the Green Party to wage its war not on Israel but on Jews. Good grief Aled, if you don’t understand the implications of C05 by now… What it recommends is obviously incompatible with Israel’s ongoing existence. You even support a single state solution – against the wishes of the majority of Israelis and Palestinians who consistently want self-determination – two states.

    And races, religions and peoples can and do live in peace in Israel, supported by Israeli law. Israel is one of the most multi-ethnic states in the world with some of the best anti-discrimination law (see my write-up of Mohammad Darawshe). But you deliberately conflate the conflict with the Palestinians – including the obliterationists in Hamas and Hizb ut Tahrir, say – with the vastly different state within Israel’s borders precisely because your minority, one-state position depends on it.

    If you wanted to protest the occupation, you could have done so. Instead C05 struck at Israel’s existence. This blog is attempting to highlight this, as well as the part C05 plays in the wider anti-Zionist campaign. A campaign that is wholely hostile and does none of the groundwork necessary for the outcome it purports to favour – a single peaceful state. None of the groundwork for cooperation, understanding, coexistence, reduction in inequalities.

    I’ve watched tens of boycott resolutions, and the sheer injustice, arrogance and double standard they embody never fails to shock me. They neglect the details of the conflict, they neglect the core issues of their originating organisations and they don’t give a stuff about racism against Jews which rides on their wording and spirit. They are passed in ignorance, mostly. And those are the reasons why this debate has a place on the Web, I’m afraid.


  5. leigh said,

    aled is clearly occupying the political equivalent of cloud cuckoo land! Does he really imagine in his wildest dreams that the jihadists of hamas would be willing to live in ‘peace’ in a ‘single state’ with israel’s jews?

    Hamas an organisation that is sworn to destroy the state of israel and replace it with a single islamic fundamentalist state. An organisation that pioneered the use of suicide bombings against israeli civilians. An organisation that cites the disgraceful forgeries of the protocols of the elders of zion as fact and which denies the nazi holocaust of the jews ever took place. An organisation that is responsible for the firing of thousands of iranian supplied rockets into israel’s residential areas in recent years. Interestingly aled remains strangely silent on the subject of hamas!

    He claims he does not wish to bring about the end of israel as a soveregn state but surely the single state he advocates is exactley that – israel would in effect cease to exist and he im sure is pefectly well aware of this!

    i would respectfully suggest that he follows the link below and fully aquaints himself with some of the people who’s single state goal he – and his fellow ‘boycotters’ – appears to share

    Further we are not sniping at anyone in the party as he claims by establishing this blog – a thus far flourishing one it has to be said. We are merely exercising our democratic right via a open public forum to press our case against the anti-israeli boycott campaign our party – or at least those able to attend the spring conference – has just signed up to. I would remind him that green party is thankfully not a ‘democratic centralist’ organisation in the manner of the swp or other assorted ultra left sects!. Green party members are thankfully free to make their case both inside and outside the party and long may this important political freedom continue.

  6. greensstoptheboycott said,

    Aled, Matt, what about the matter at hand? Your boycott undermines the Stream Restoration Project, doesn’t it.

    What about that?

  7. Matt Sellwood said,

    Its not ‘my boycott’ at all – I wasn’t involved in the motion. All I asked was whether people will be using the democratic structures of the Party to have this debate, and whether people agreed that it was a bit unfortunate that no-one turned up to propose the amendments to the original motion.

    I must say that, given the lack of input when the actual decision was made, some (not all) of the comments on this blog seem rather hysterical. I’d be very happy to see a rational debate around this issue – what I hope will not happen is people smearing people like Aled as ‘committed to the destruction of Israel.’ I can assure you that attributing such motives to other Greens is the quickest way to persuade people like me to stop listening.



  8. greensstoptheboycott said,

    I don’t know your views Matt, apologies.

    Do you support the boycott or not?

    You’re very indignant. I take that seriously and I don’t want to provoke it. You are right, it’s not a good emotional state in which to have a debate.

    Since you are advocating empathy, here’s how it seems to me. I spend a lot of my time feeling something somewhat stronger than indignation, while trying to reason with detached people who are very protective about the democratic structures of their organisation but willing to ignore the damaging stuff that nevertheless is permitted to emerge from them.

    Out of all the states in the world, and all the ways to make our feelings known, we have here a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state, support for a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state, or tacit endorsement of a boycott of the Jewish state, or failure to consider the issues and implications of such a boycott. This is not a nice debate, you’re right. We didn’t start it and we don’t like it – but there you are.

    So what’s your point when you rhetorically call our response ‘hysterical’ (it isn’t)? Overreaction? I don’t think so – or is it that you think C05 is trivial?

    I didn’t “smear people like Aled” as ‘committed to the destruction of Israel’. You are the only person who used that formulation – why are you attributing it to me? I explained why this boycott is wrong and by implication, and unavoidably, why its adherents are wrong – the resolution effectively promotes an end to Israel, an end that most Israelis, Palestinians and countries in the region have ruled out because the Israeli and Palestinian publics don’t want it.

    One state or two, you can’t avoid the need for coexistence initiatives. Greens voted for a boycott in the absence of any such peace-building – and make no mistake, the two are mutually exclusive. I’ll say it again – that C05 is terribly inappropriate.


  9. Matt Sellwood said,


    Thanks for the reply. My apologies for putting that statement in quotation marks, which was unfair and done while typing in a stream of consciousness fashion.

    As for my views – I may be exactly the kind of person that both you and the proposers of CO5 need to be looking out for – a regular attendee of conference who is basically undecided on this question. If someone said I *HAD* to state a preference right now on pain of death, I would probably lean towards CO5 – but I am well aware that I am less well informed than I should be on this entire question, and as such would be uncomfortable voting in such a way until I had heard all the arguments. I certainly accept that one can be for fair treatment for Palestinians and against a boycott, since one is a principle and one simply a tactic.

    Which is why my interventions have been solely about your plans to use Party conference to make your points. I would like not only a motion to conference from your grouping, but also a presentation (perhaps even a debate?) beforehand where all of these points can be made civily and rationally.

    My indignation comes from the fact that some of the posts on this blog thus far seem to have attributed motives to people I know and respect (Aled, Caroline etc) which I just don’t think are fair. Which sabotages the rest of your case, because I read everything else thinking “Well, if they are angry enough to think that Caroline and Aled are really part of a plot to destroy Israel, what else here is not true?”. I suspect a lot of other party members might feel the same.


    P.S. Oh, and there are a few references to Green Left scattered about the web from opponents of the boycott motion which seem to verge on red-baiting. Which as a proud ‘red’ myself, also raises the hackles.

  10. Matt Sellwood said,

    Sorry to keep posting. 🙂

    I just wanted to ask what your reaction to a more ‘targetted’ boycott might be? i.e a boycott solely against illegal settlements, those companies that can be proven to directly contribute to the occupation, and so forth?

    i.e. is the major problem the ‘broad brush’ nature of CO5, or do you see a boycott as inappropriate whatever the target?

    Best wishes,


  11. greensstoptheboycott said,

    Matt, I object to all baiting – red, green or jew. I’ve seen them too but I can’t get round them all.

    I am sorry but I have to stand by what I said about Caroline’s political associations. I had no idea she had been active in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – they are Israel negationists by the standards that I have put out above. Stop the War, at which Caroline spoke, is pro-War! It invites Hesbollah representatives. Hesbollah’s TV station Al Manar, showed a soap opera Al Shatat, vehicle for Jewish conspiracy theory (including the murder of a Christian boy to sop his blood with matzah). Al Manar, got into trouble with the US and France, who banned Al Manar, and even Jordan, who banned Al Shatat. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah said ““If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli.” I’m astounded that any anti-racist would touch Hesbollah with a barge pole – StWC welcomes and defends them, and Caroline allies the Greens with StWC.

    I would say judge us by our sources – I for one will do my best to cite them. We are not making this stuff up.

    Mira (mv)

  12. greensstoptheboycott said,

    Dear Matt,

    A specific boycott e.g. of the products from settlements, based on accurate premises, along with a clear indication of measures that that could be taken to lift the boycott (those measures not amounting to Israel cancelling itself), and in the absence of anti-Zionist rhetoric, would be something I personally would find far less objectionable. I worry about how you’d draw lines round products and say “that one’s an occupation product” when it also might be a self defence product. C05 is currently attempting to do this and failing.

    But we have a BDS campaign ongoing which aims to end Israel (by the standards I have outlined) and I would look at any proposal in the context of that.

    I think that boycotts of states should be pursued a) if they are clearly linked to and contributing to their stated aims and b) according to values that we can and do apply to other states.

    Well, I do go on don’t I? These boycotts, only of Israel, (there’s another campaign about to start in my union UCU) bother me immensely. I find them menacing.


  13. leigh said,

    just want to say to matt enjoyed reading your contributions here but that you’re mistaken if you see this debate as being a right-left split in the green party.

    By any standards i am a ‘red’ myself. Before joining the greens 4 years ago i stood for the old socialist alliance in the 2003 welsh assembly elections – i am a lifelong socialist and pleased to say feel very at ‘home’ in the green party. But it just so happens i profoundly disagree with my colleages on the left who continue to demonise and single israel out in the way they have and who at the same time are apparently prepared to ally themselves with thouroughly reactionary organisations like hamas and hizbollah – organisations who are diametrically opposed to everything i thought the left historically stood for!

  14. Matt Sellwood said,


    Thanks for the responses.

    I can’t comment on the PSC, because I don’t know the ‘charges’ against them. Certainly the PSC activists I’ve met have all been very sound, but I acknowledge that that doesn’t necessarily make the organisation itself ‘on the level’.

    However, on the STWC note, you might be interested to know that when I was on GPEX I raised exactly the concerns that you mention. I know that every GPEX since has also discussed our affiliation. The general view has been that, while we don’t agree with many of the stances of the STWC, it would be foolish to deprive ourselves of a platform to address tens of thousands of peace activists (most of whom are, again, perfectly sound and don’t think clerical fascists are great).

    However, I have made the point in the past that I would have less of a problem with this policy if we used that platform to spend at least some time making the criticisms that Greens have of the STWC stance – i.e. if in our speeches we pointed to the reactionary nature of Iran, the violence of Hezbollah etc. I agree with you that this hasn’t happened.

    However, I think its a bit unfair to criticise Caroline for speaking at the STWC rallies – she is our Principal Speaker, after all, and her job is to speak at events to which Greens get invited. If you blame anyone for it, you should be asking GPEX to refuse to go along anymore (which I wouldnt agree with, because as I say above I reckon its better to go along and then point out why STWC policy is crap).

    Even before this exchange, I was thinking of the possibility of doing a fringe on Greens and the STWC at Conference, so perhaps I will look into that further after the local elections.


  15. Matt Sellwood said,


    It wasn’t me referring to this as a left/right issue. I was referring to the fact that a few contributors to this blog have, elsewhere, suggested that the boycott motion was entirely down to ‘the left’ in the Green Party. For example:

    “The campaign to exclude Israelis from the cultural and economic life of the planet is now well underway in the Green Party. It is led by a group called Green Left or “Ecosocialists”. They successfully persuaded the Spring Conference to pass a motion (C05) committing the Green Party to support BDS.”

    I was simply saying that it is unhelpful to point to a specific grouping within the Party as being behind some kind of ‘plot’ – particularly as at least one member of that grouping stood up in the debate at Conference and virulently disagreed with one of the proposers!

    Best wishes,


  16. miravogel said,

    Matt thank you for explaining.

    StWC famously does not tolerate dissent, but I would be in favour of using their platform to poke holes in where its critique of the War on Terror lapses into loathing and propaganda. But look at this speech though. Gone completely native (ie SWP). There was no Green identity emanating for the thousands of peace activists, and no insights (I realise you said as much above, but I think it’s a really important point).

    As for the rest (suggestions about the motion and contacting GPEX), helpful. Thank you.

  17. miravogel said,

    Matt, on the subject of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, please read this from Engage, it starts like this:

    Tony Greenstein is an anti-Zionist who believes that Zionism is like Nazism, that Zionists helped the Nazis carry out the Holocaust, that Israel, uniquely, is an essentially and unchangeably racist state.

    Sue Blackwell is an anti-Zionist who is best known for campaigning to exclude Israeli academics from university campuses, conferences and journals around the world. Blackwell believes that Israel is an “illegitimate” state.

    Roland Rance is an anti-Zionist who campaigns for the “dismantlement of the Zionist structure of the state of Israel”.

    All three have been demonizing Israel, passionately and constantly for decades. They have been fighting hard for all the staple anti-Zionist principles, without rest. Israel is an apartheid state, they say, its trade unions are not real workers organisations, they say, its universities are structures of oppression, they say, its civilians are not really civilians, they argue, its anti-racists are really racists, they declare.

    But now the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the UK has rejected them because they dared to stand up against open antisemitism within the movement.

    This weekend they came to the PSC conference with two motions (reproduced below) arguing that those who push Holocaust denial and open antisemitism should be excluded from the PSC. Their motions were almost unanimously defeated.

  18. Jack Hughes said,

    What do you lot think about Tibet ?

    It’s much more clear cut who are the good guys and who are the villains – yet you are strangely silent.

    I have travelled in Northern India and met hundreds of Tibetans. What lovely people. And their traditional lifestyle really is sustainable.

    Yes that’s right they walk the talk – instead of poncing around with all this Dave Spart stuff.

    Do you have an official position on Tibet ?

    PS: it has a much bigger effect on the environment than the Israel / Pally situation.

  19. Matt Sellwood said,

    Yes, the Party’s official position is one of condemnation of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, and both its physical and cultural genocide.

    Why on earth did you think we would be on the side of the Chinese?


  20. leigh said,

    jack the chinese occupation/colonisation of tibet is illegal and wrong it’s as simple as that! In my view instead of boycotting an open free democratic country like israel the green party should be calling for a boycott of the olympic games – amazed we’ve said nothing on this – and also be calling for an economic and cultural boycott of china on account of its appalling human rights record and its equally appalling environmental record.

  21. Matt Sellwood said,


    We have said something on this – its on the front page of our website!


    P.S. Are you seriously claiming that Israel is entirely ‘open, free and democratic’? If so, we really *do* disagree.

  22. leigh said,

    welll matt israel has a free press, a independent judiciary and pluralist democracy. While trade unions and party’s of the left are able to organise openly and freely.So are you seriously claiming that israel is not a open, free and democratic society?

    But no such things of course could be said about neighbouring countries in the middle east – such as saudi arabia, iran or syria. It is despotic corrupt regimes like this the green party should should be boycotting!

    Similarly since coming to power following the elections in gaza in 2006 the reactionary fundamentalist movement hamas has – according to the independent organisation human rights watch – been guilty of numerous human rights abuses including the murder and arrrests of political opponents and journalists. While they have also squandered resources desperately needed by the people of gaza on buying weapons from iran to continue their holy ‘war’ on israel! The hamas regime in gaza is ripe for a green party boycott i would have thought!

    Yes i am aware of and welcome caroline’s statement on tibet – but are we calling for a boycott of the olympic games in china or not? What does she mean in her statement when she says we should boycott ‘aspects’ of the games’? Surely we either are in favour of a boycott of the games or we are notI! I hope the party will soon move to clarify this and call for the uk – and others – to withdraw from the olympic games in china.

  23. Jack Hughes said,

    Dudes – you have been infiltrated.

    [rest of comment edited out by MV – Jack briefly letting of steam without substaniating what he was sying. Sorry Jack.]

  24. Raphael said,


    Thank you so much for your valuable contributions!

    Let me first reply to your initial question: “people will be using the (extremely open) democratic structures of the Party to have this discussion?”

    The short answer is, of course, Yes.

    The longer answer is that, I and Toby, have already engaged quite a bit.

    I, and others, submitted an Emergency Motion on the subject of the Academic Boycott, at the Liverpool conference.

    In the weeks leading to the Spring conference, I, and Toby, have offered a detailed analysis and criticism of the motion on the internal discussion list. Indeed, one of the reasons of my long posts on this list, was, that it may be easier to have a rational discussion on an e-list, than in an one-hour heated and emotional debate at conference.

    We have also submitted amendments to the motion contrary to what Aled seems to indicate.

    Unfortunately, neither I nor Toby were able to be at conference due to prior personal or professional commitment. I very much hope to be at the next conference.

    There are two reasons why I think it is legitimate to mention GreenLeft; the first is the role it played in the genesis of the motion C05. Contrary to the rules of the internal democratic debate of the GP, motion C05 was not discussed on any internal list before being submitted. Instead, it was discussed on the GreenLeft list. There is another reason. GreenLeft seems to have Joe Kovel as a key ideological reference ; Kovel’s views on Israel/Palestine are, to say the least controversial. Kovel himself explains in the preface of his book that his “antipathy for judaism […] grew into a worldview”. Kovel was invited at the LSE by Aled and Derek.

    It is not my contention that Aled, Derek, or any particular GreenLeft members, share Kovel’s “antipathy for judaism”. The point of this blog, however, is to make sure the Green Party starts thinking seriously about fighting against all forms of racisms, instead of, unwillingly, spread a particular one.

    The fact that it does, it seems to me, is well proved by the support that the GP has on antisemitic websites. In order not to publicize these, I will not cite them here, but I am happy to provide links if you are in any doubt that this actually is the case. I have asked to our Chair what is the GP doing to distinguish itself from these sites and I am awating a response.

    Sorry that I cannot address your other points now. I am currently abroad with limited internet access. I will continue the discussion next week.


  25. Raphael said,


    To nuance my points above. 1) There are some leftwing GP members who do not support the Boycott, including myself and Leigh, and some GreenLeft members who do not support the Boycott. 2) There are some pro-Boycott who are not GreenLeft members and do not identify with the left.

    But mentioning antizionism as an issue in the contemporary left in the UK is certainly relevant, see resources on the Engage website. Link in the tab on the right.

    About the STWc, the point is that GP speakers, did not say “why STWC policy is crap”, in fact, to the best of my knowledge, and in spite of my, and others, requests, no comments were made about sharing a platform with Hizbollah. Your suggestion to hold a fringe on STWc is excellent, and I very much hope you would invite, e.g. Mira, to contribute.

    You other suggestions about organizing a real debate is also something that I intend to follow.

    Finally, one important point, you raise is:

    My indignation comes from the fact that some of the posts on this blog thus far seem to have attributed motives to people I know and respect (Aled, Caroline etc) which I just don’t think are fair. Which sabotages the rest of your case, because I read everything else thinking “Well, if they are angry enough to think that Caroline and Aled are really part of a plot to destroy Israel, what else here is not true?”. I suspect a lot of other party members might feel the same.

    I do not discuss the motives of any particular individuals. I am not interested by individual motives, but I am interested by policies.

    We, i.e. the GP, have, in the past years, shared platforms, called for demonstrations, together with organizations which are indeed committed to the destruction of Israel. This includes Hamas, Hezbollah, and other UK organizations such as Friends of Al Aqsa. We have now joined in a boycott campaign which is also supported by many groups which are carry antisemitic cartoons and publicize antisemitic speakers, e.g. the Scottish PSC. These groups carry articles praising us for joining the campaign.

    We, i.e. the GP, are totally silent on the antisemitism of these groups along which we are campaigning, demonstrating, etc.

    There are in the GP members who call for the destruction of Israel. Here is, as an example, a excerpt from a post on the international list:

    It follows that we [i.e. the GP] would not agree with organisations which support Zionism. I am open to correction here, but I think that would be a fair assessment of the Board of Deputies. I have never heard them condemn the Zionist project that is the state of Israel.

  26. Matt S said,


    Many thanks for your civil responses.

    I’d be grateful if you could email the links you write about, so I can see what you are concerned about first hand.

    Best wishes,


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