BIN Consolidates Itself at Margate 2010
This past weekend saw a gathering of about 80 activists at the 3rd Boycott Israel Network (BIN). It was slightly fewer than at Coalbrookdale 6 months ago probably because being on the South Coast it was a deterrent to activists in the North. But it was yet another step towards consolidating the network.
The reasons for the establishment of BIN are not hard to find. Most activists have given up on Palestine Solidarity Campaign. An organisation which I helped found in 1982 has become the creature of a small stalinoid group of ex-Trotskyists under Socialist Action/Communist League. Any and every initiative is frowned upon and activism is not welcomed unless it involves lobbying of MPs.
The turning point was PSC’s decision not to support breaking links with Histadrut, for fear of offending TUC leaders like Brendan Barber on the grounds that it was a ‘changed organisation.’ [Bernard Regan] Not content with supporting linkage with Histadrut, Regan put PSC’s name on a leaflet with the TUC which stated that a Boycott of Settlement Goods was not meant to suggest that we oppose people buying ‘legitimate’ Israeli goods.
Surprisingly, having boycotted the gathering at Coalbrookdale in March, PSC Executive decided to send SA member, Ben Sofa, to Margate at the last minute. Although Ben at first tried to impress people with PSC activities he soon gave up the ghost.
The Conference was partly based in a windswept hotel, where most of the sessions took place, and the local youth hostel. It would be idle to list the number of topics covered. Suffice to say that they ranged from the Cultural and Sporting Boycotts, to the Campaign to have the JNF derecognised as a charity. Trade Union work was another workshop (PSC having reneged even on calling a TU conference) as was the European Union Monitoring Committee ‘working definition’ of anti-semitism which is taken out of the Zionist Book of Doublethink.
Michael Deas introduced the conference with a report from the Boycott National Committee. How despite their bluster, it was clear that the Boycott is beginning to affect the morale of the business community in Israel. The latest antics of the Zionists and their neo-Nazi friends in the EDL outside Ahava were also reported on. A number of international delegates, from France in particular, participated and we learnt of the acquittal of a French ex-MEP on charges of anti-semitism for advocating Boycott of Israel.
After the backstabbing, mutual suspicion, rigged votes and gerrymandering of PSC, to go to a conference where people actually trusted each other and wanted to work together.
One of the most interesting talks for me was on the Blood Diamond trade. How Diamonds are Israel's largest export and how even after the cost of imports is deducted, Israel profits by about $9 billion a year. Clearly we have a lot of educating to do amongst newly weds!
The first session on the Sunday was led by Mick Napier of Scottish PSC. The question was whether or not we should elect a Steering Committee and if so who it should consist of. My own view was that we should include individuals with a view to becoming a membership as well as an affiliate group but that was not the majority view. People clearly want to take things slowly having been burned by PSC. But the inexorable logic of BIN’s existence is leading towards the formation of an organisation which can act as a resource and co-ordinator of activity. We have therefore taken the first, tentative steps towards becoming an activist organisation.
BIN is very much an activist organisation, which is good. But it will also have to debate issues such as one vs two state, if only for its implications on our strategy, although I suspect most people already support 1 State.