UK supermarkets targeted for stocking Israeli goods
Jerusalem Post original article: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=159789
JONNY PAUL, Jerusalem Post correspondent in London 07/11/2009 23:32
"We are not motivated by politics..."
Waitrose staff had visited the West Bank and were happy with the producers.
LONDON - Activists are targeting two supermarket chains in a weeklong protest starting Monday, in an attempt to stop them stocking any Israeli goods. The fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign is calling for a week of boycott action against Morrison's and Waitrose supermarkets. The boycott effort is said to coincide with a call by a Palestinian group called the "Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign" for a week of globalized action.
The activists are campaigning for a complete boycott of Israeli goods on supermarkets' shelves "for as long as Palestinian rights are denied by the apartheid regime" and for people to demonstrate at the chain's branches and head offices. While calling for the supermarkets to not stock produce from settlements in the West Bank, claiming they are on "stolen land," the activists called for them to not to stock Israeli goods at all.
On Wednesday, they will try to flood the supermarkets' helplines with calls throughout the day. The group has a number of protests planned at a number of supermarkets during the week. The PSC has called for activists to picket the headquarters of Morrison's in Yorkshire on Friday, urging them to bring "children's bloodstained clothing" along with candles and placards. "It is time to step up the supermarket boycott campaign which calls for consumers to reject Israeli goods," the anti-Israel campaigners stated in their material.
A Waitrose representative told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the chain is aware of the planned action and emphasized that their policy is to ensure high standards of farming and worker welfare, and that they were happy with the produce they get from Israel. "We source a small selection of herbs from the West Bank area, grown on two Israeli-managed farms, on which a Palestinian and Israeli workforce have worked side by side for many years," the representative said. "We are not motivated by politics. Instead our policy is to ensure high standards of farming and worker welfare on the farms from which we source." The representative said Waitrose staff had visited the West Bank and were happy with the producers. "Our buyers and food technologists have visited the two farms in the West Bank to ensure that worker welfare meets the high standards that we insist on. As part of our normal sourcing policy we will be carrying out an audit on these farms in the next six months," Waitrose said. "We ensure that our customers can make an informed choice by going beyond the legal guidelines and labeling the produce concerned as West Bank."
A Morrison's representative said: "We source from a wide range of suppliers around the world to provide our customers with the best possible choice of fresh produce throughout the year. We believe in offering customers freedom of choice and clearly label our food to enable customers to make informed choices." Providing country-of-origin labeling on foods is voluntary in the UK, with some producers choosing to state if a product comes from Israel or the West Bank.
Jewish community organizations have responded to the boycott call by calling on people to buy more Israeli produce. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Fair Play Campaign Group, a community organization set up in to oppose Israel-boycott calls, have launched a "BUYcott Israeli goods" campaign calling on friends of Israel to buy more Israeli goods during the week and to write to store managers, and head offices, to explain why boycotts are counterproductive. "Boycotts are not an effective way of moving forward or achieving peace. They target all Israelis, Jews and Arabs, but impact on the Palestinian economy as well as Israel's, because the two markets and societies are so deeply entwined," the BUYcott campaigners said. The campaign has also launched a "BUYcott" day on Sunday at Waitrose in Brent Cross shopping center in northwest London urging people to buy Israeli products. The Zionist Federation of the UK has also called for people to buy more Israel goods as well as organize pro-Israel demonstrations at supermarket branches in an attempt to counter the boycott week.