Italian trade unionists who want to boycott “Jewish-owned shops” in Rome

Ths is a press release from B’nai B’rith Europe

Brussels, Belgium – January 12, 2009 – B’nai B’rith Europe condemns the proposal by Giancarlo Desiderati, the leader of the Italian trade union FLAICA Uniti – CUB, to ‘identify and boycott’ Jewish-owned shops in the Italian capital. This call clearly represents a multiple transgression of the red lines of the Working Definition of Antisemitism that is used by both the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) of the EU, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE and by the Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating Antisemitism. It mentions not only “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel”, but also “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” as “examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself”.

Moreover, “FLAICA Uniti – CUB’s idea is highly similar to the Nazis’ call not to buy ‘Jewish'”, as Yves Kamami, the Chairman of F.A.N., notes. “Desiderati’s subsequent condemnation of ‘all forms of anti-Semitism by Right or Left’ appears to be nothing but a meaningless lip service in the face of his earlier statement. This is also confirmed by the fact that he has since compared the situation of the Palestinians today to that of the Jews in the Holocaust, whereby an analogy between Israel and Nazi Germany is implied.” Precisely these comparisons are mentioned as another example of antisemitism by the Working Definition, as BBE has pointed out previously in a condemnation of similar remarks made by Cardinal Renato Martino.
B’nai B’rith Europe holds that while the statements by the leader of FLAICA Uniti – CUB are malicious and unfounded, they also do nothing to help the people in Gaza. Far from resembling a truly progressive viewpoint, the trade union’s position ignores the true causes for the suffering of the Palestinians, who have been subjected to the rule of an anti-Semitic movement that also suppresses and murders women, homosexuals, religious minorities, oppositionists, and trade unionists.

6 Responses to “Italian trade unionists who want to boycott “Jewish-owned shops” in Rome”

  1. luny Says:

    If they advocated boycotting Jewish Shops, of course B’Nai B’rith is correct. The problem is, they categorically deny they advocated boycotting Jewish-owned shops. Their web page ( quite forcefully states that they are boycotting Israeli products (perhaps also wrong, but an altogether different issue), and categorically denies that they are targeting anyone for a boycott because they are Jewish.
    They are now officially asking the Italian newspaper that broke the story ( in Italian) for a retraction.
    Unless B’nai B’rith has good evidence that they did really call for a boycott of Jewish-owned shops, it could be open for a libel suit, especially in the British court system.

  2. Observer Says:

    I recall the days when the UK was at war with Argentina. There was a campaign to boycott Argentinian products – corned beef, especially. The “left” mocked such a tactic, even though, unlike Israel, the government of Aregentinia at that time was a military junta.
    Funny how the left is now acting like the Daily Mail on amphetamine.

  3. Saul Says:

    Luny of course ignores the fundamental question.
    Why the focus on a boycott of Israel? On what legitimate basis?

    HR abuses? Israel is hardly a leader in that.
    Occupation? Israel is hardly unique in that.
    Military action against others, including its occupied territory?
    Israel is hardly unique in that?
    Unlike, say, China and its occupation of Tibet, Israel recognises the Palestinian claim to sovereignty (although slow to aid its implementation); but why no calls for a boycott?

    What exactly is it about Israel that leads to calls for “boycott”. Looking at the history of Jewish presence in the world, one can only conclude that it fits in quite well with past actions against Jews.

    Oh and if “Seth” is right on another post that Israel’s claims to be fighting for all Jews be taken seriously, then, by definition, all boycotts of Israel are boycotts of Jews.

  4. Jonathan Romer Says:


    “What exactly is it about Israel that leads to calls for “boycott”. “

    I think Naomi Klein, in the Guardian piece that David Hirsh commented on a few days ago, provides an answer that is almost right. She said:

    “Why single out Israel when the US, Britain and other western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the strategy should be tried is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.”

    What this boils down to is “Because we can.” It’s not that Israel is uniquely deserving of isolation and attack, it’s not even that it uniquely susceptible. Most of Israel’s trade is with the US, or in military technology for which there will always be a market, and there is no shortage of other countries that depend on trade with the west to maintain regimes that are truly odious. What is different about Israel is that it is presents a unique combination: It is a handy placeholder for the US and all things “imperialist”, whilst at the same time it is tiny, and the reservoir of popular support on which it can reliably count is also tiny. Hating it is essentially cost-free, and I’m pretty sure it’s built into human nature that people like to hate. Non-thinkers just need a target; “thinkers” also need a justification — but those can always be found, or manufactured. It is cathartic to be able to hate once you have convinced yourself that you don’t need to feel guilt about it.

  5. Cyrus Says:

    luny, when I read an official denial I look for the things that are not being denied. This one refers exclusively to a particular official statement from the union. It does not deny that Desiderati said things like this:-

    “though it might be better to publish a list of streets in which a majority of the shops are Jewish and ask people to avoid those streets when shopping”.

    That’s a straight quote courtesy of Richard Owen of the Times ( Did Owen make it up?

  6. sikofitall Says:

    I think people just like picking on Jews, the US, or whomever is an easy acceptable target at the time. Hey after 9/11 it was the Muslims, the same people that people think are saints now. They got stopped and checked on planes because everyone thought that they were all a bunch of terrorists that were gonna blow up the fuckin plane and they got beat up, so now they are beating up Jewish people in the same manner that it happened to them. Look, I live in NY and yes, I’m Jewish, but do I have any control over what happens in Israel, no. I don’t vote in Israel, hell we barely have any control over what happens in the Us, aside from voting, what can we really do? But people love to blame us, so here is my solution to the Italians in the Italy Union… So here’s my solution. I want to combat stupid with stupid. Ok, since Jewish people in Italy (or anywhere else for that matter except the Israeli government in Israel) have nothing to do with this war I think we should boycott all Italian food shops and clothing stores and companies worldwide to pay back these stupid people in the Italy Union. Good agreed, we’ll boycott and ruin all the hard working individuals who have nothing to do with the union and don’t even live in Italy. Yeah everyone is an idiot…

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