Co-op needs to clarify ethics

Noru Tsalic is concerned over the Co-oo's policies
Noru Tsalic is concerned over the Co-oo's policies
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I WAS amongst approximately 300 people who attended a regional meeting of the Co-op at the Kettering conference centre on Saturday.

The event enabled members to have their say on the way the group is performing. As a member, I am impressed with this multi-billion pound business which is prepared to listen to the views of its members. As an Israeli, I am proud of Israel’s own co-operative movement, the kibbutz, which is famous worldwide as a beacon of communal democracy.

I was particularly pleased to be able to voice my own concerns about the Co-op’s recently announced policy to boycott Israeli companies. That misguided decision affects, for instance, Agrexco, itself representing co-operatives with members that are both Jewish and Arab Israelis, and which serves as the main channel to market also for Palestinian produce exported from Gaza.

My impression is that it is a tiny minority of the six million members who have hijacked the Co-operative’s ethical agenda, driving it towards decisions having nothing to do with ethics and which are highly detrimental to the cause of peace.

It is very revealing that these militants are not interested in actually helping the Palestinians, but in boycotting Israel. One member made a proposal (which I fully supported) that the Co-op should stock more olive oil produced by West Bank Palestinians. The pro-boycott group remained silent and uninterested; it was only when their anti-Israel boycott was discussed that their passion was suddenly stimulated and resulted in shouting and trying to silence the voices that spoke against it.

No-one can justify an ethical trading policy which singles out Israeli companies for imaginary faults while ignoring human rights violations such as, for instance, the gender-based apartheid practised in Saudi Arabia and throughout much of the Middle East.

I was greatly heartened by members who came up to me after I spoke to offer support and to express their opinion that fairness and balance should be restored to Co-op’s policies. It is time to promote a truly ethical policy which encourages positive engagement with Israelis and Palestinians and which promotes a peaceful solution through negotiation and compromise rather than attempting to “coerce” one side or the other into unilateral steps. As a matter of basic ethics, Co-op should make it clear that it does not wish to associate with organisations rejecting Israel’s right to exist and attempting to deny the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.

I WONDER if people can give me any information or leads regarding an Ultra factory which I understand was in the Wellingborough area during the Second World War producing radio components for the war effort?

My mother worked there with her sister after both had moved from

Hull.

She passed away a few years ago but I have her autograph book, which contained many signatures of fellow workers who must have signed before my mother met her husband-to-be, a USA army

sergeant, my father, who is still alive, who was stationed, I believe, in/near Cambridge.

I have found it difficult to trace any information regarding the factory.