Cliff May

Journalists are often accused of bias. Rarely do journalists level that charge against themselves. But the 35,000 members of Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have done exactly that. Call them prejudiced, call them unprofessional. You can’t say they aren’t candid.

The NUJ has declared a boycott against the usual suspect: Israel. Just say no! to Israeli oranges, lemons and melons, they demand.

The NUJ has not declared a boycott against Sudan – despite the fact that the Khartoum regime is committing genocide against black Muslims in Darfur. Nor have they called for a boycott against the Syrian and Russian regimes that regularly murder their critics; the Iranian mullahs who torture reporters; the Palestinian Authority which is complicit in the kidnapping of correspondents; or the many Middle Eastern regimes that trample human rights day in and day out. No, the NUJ targets what is indisputably the freest and most democratic country in the Middle East, the one nation in the world with neighbors so hostile they vow to wipe her off the map.

The simple explanation is anti-Israelism – the 21st century’s most fashionable form of anti-Semitism. The NUJ is not quite candid enough to say that. Instead, the union cites what it calls the "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel."

You may be thinking: But didn’t last summer's conflict begin when Hezbollah fired rockets from Lebanon at villages inside Israel? Didn’t Hezbollah commandos cross the border into Israel and kill three Israeli soldiers and kidnap two more (who are to this day still in captivity, deprived of the most basic rights to which POWs are entitled)? Weren’t those acts of war to which Israel had a right to respond?

Also, you might wonder why the NUJ is so blithely unconcerned about Hezbollah’s use of Lebanese civilians and, in some cases, entire villages, as human shields. Though there was little press coverage during last summer’s war, after the conflict U.K. Foreign Office Minister Kim Howell investigated and reported to a parliamentary committee that Hezbollah had extensively hidden caches of arms in schools and mosques, and rockets in homes and apartment blocks.

“What I saw out there begs many questions about the way we try to define what constitutes a war crime,” Howell said. “Every time the Israelis responded [to a missile attack] and smashed a building down, every picture of a burnt child and every picture of a building that had housed people [where] there was now pancake on the ground was propaganda for Hezbollah.”


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.