Gaza

The Jewish Plan For The Middle East and Beyond


By Gilad Atzmon

Surely, what’s happening now in Iraq and Syria must serve as a final wakeup call that we have been led into a horrific situation in the Middle East by a powerful Lobby driven by the interests of one tribe and one tribe alone.

Back in 1982, Oded Yinon an Israeli journalist formerly attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, published a document titled ‘A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.’This Israeli commentator suggested that for Israel to maintain its regional superiority, it must fragment its surrounding Arab states into smaller units. The document, later labelled as ‘Yinon Plan’, implied that Arabs and Muslims killing each other in endless sectarian wars was, in effect, Israel’s insurance policy.

Of course, regardless of the Yinon Plan’s prophesies, one might still argue that this has nothing to do with Jewish lobbying, politics or institutions but is just one more Israeli strategic proposal except that it is impossible to ignore that the Neocon school of thought that pushed the English-speaking Empire into Iraq was largely a Jewish Diaspora, Zionist clan. It’s also no secret that the 2nd Gulf War was fought to serve Israeli interests –  breaking into sectarian units what then seemed to be the last pocket of Arab resistance to Israel.

Similarly, it is well established that when Tony Blair decided to launch that criminal war, Lord Levy was the chief fundraiser for his Government while, in the British media, Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen were busy beating the drums for war. And again, it was the exact same Jewish Lobby that was pushing for intervention in Syria, calling for the USA and NATO to fight alongside those same Jihadi forces that today threaten the last decade’s American ‘achievements’ in Iraq.

Unfortunately, Yinon’s disciples are more common than you might expect. In France, it was the infamous Jewish ‘philosopher’ Bernard Henri Levy who  boasted on TV that ‘as a Jew’ campaigning for NATO intervention, he liberated Libya.

As we can see, a dedicated number of Jewish Zionist activists, commentators and intellectuals have worked relentlessly in many countries pushing for exactly the same cause – the breaking up of Arab and Muslim states into smaller, sectarian units.

But is it just the Zionists who are engaging in such tactics? Not at all.

In fact, the Jewish so-called Left serves the exact same cause, but instead of fragmenting Arabs and Muslims into Shia, Sunnis, Alawites and Kurds they strive to break them into sexually oriented identity groups (Lesbian, Queer, Gays, Heterosexual etc’)

Recently I learned from Sarah Schulman, a NY Jewish Lesbian activist that in her search for funding for a young ‘Palestinian Queer’ USA tour, she was advised to approach George Soros’ Open Society institute. The following account may leave you flabbergasted, as it did me:

“A former ACT UP staffer who worked for the Open Society Institute, George Soros’ foundation, suggested that I file an application there for funding for the tour. When I did so it turned out that the person on the other end had known me from when we both attended Hunter [College] High School in New York in the 1970s. He forwarded the application to the Institutes’s office in Amman, Jordan, and I had an amazing one-hour conversation with Hanan Rabani, its director of the Women’s and Gender program for the Middle East region. Hanan told me that this tour would give great visibility to autonomous queer organizations in the region. That it would inspire queer Arabs—especially in Egypt and Iran…for that reason, she said, funding for the tour should come from the Amman office” (Sarah Schulman -Israel/Palestine and the Queer International p. 108).

The message is clear, The Open Society Institutes  (OSI) wires Soros’s money to Jordan, Palestine and then back to the  USA in order to “inspire queer Arabs in Egypt and Iran (sic).”

What we see here is clear evidence of a blatant intervention by George Soros and his institute in an attempt to break Arabs and Muslims and shape their culture.  So, while the right-wing Jewish Lobby pushes the Arabs into ethnic sectarian wars, their tribal counterparts within George Soros’s OSI institute, do exactly the same – attempt to break the Arab and Muslims by means of marginal and identity politics.

It is no secret that, as far as recent developments in Iraq are concerned, America, Britain and the West are totally unprepared. So surely, the time is long overdue when we must identify the forces and ideologies within Western society that are pushing us into more and more global conflicts. And all we can hope for is that  America, Britain and France may think twice before they spends trillions of their tax payers’ money in following the Yinon Plan to fight ruinous, foreign wars imposed upon them by The Lobby.

Boycott Israel: Now More Than Ever


For many decades, Israel waged genocidal war against millions of defenseless Palestinians with impunity.
Accountability is long overdue. High crimes against peace were committed. Culpable Israeli officials must be punished to the full extent of the law.
The global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for freedom, justice and equality works. Applying them with stepped up teeth more than ever is vital.
It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Israel is a lawless, racist, apartheid, rogue terror state. It must be held accountable for collectively punishing Palestinians lawlessly.
Enough is enough. After 66 years of Palestinian slaughter, mass destruction, displacement, occupation, and oppression, as well as international dismissiveness and complicity, global action more than ever is essential.
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:
“The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s.”
“Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.”
Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won’t do it. Grassroots movements must lead the way.
In July 2005, a coalition of 171 Palestinian Civil Society organizations created the Global BDS movement for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights” for Occupied Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and diaspora Palestinian  refugees.
Since 1948, hundreds of UN resolutions condemned Israel’s colonial occupation, its decades of discriminatory policies, illegal land seizures and settlements, international law violations, as well as oppression of a civilian population to no avail.
Gaza is besieged. Palestine remains occupied. Its people continue to suffer. Their human rights are denied. These abuses no longer can be tolerated.
Growing numbers of people of conscience “call upon international civil society organizations and (supporters everywhere) to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to (apartheid) South Africa.”
“Pressure is needed for “embargoes and sanctions…for the sake of justice and genuine peace.”
Nonviolent punitive measures should continue until Israel:
  • recognizes Palestinian rights to self-determination;
  • respects international laws, norms and standards;
  • ends its illegal occupation unconditionally;
  • ends Gaza’s siege unconditionally;
  • ends illegal aggression and other hostilities in all forms;
  • dismantles its Separation Wall;
  • frees all Palestinian political prisoners unconditionally;
  • grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews;
  • end its racist apartheid system;
  • complies with UN resolution 194 affirming the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homes and property or be fully compensated for loss or damage if they prefer;
  • recognizes East Jerusalem as Palestine’s exclusive capital within June 1967 borders; and
  • gives Palestinians control over their land, borders, air space, coastal waters and resources.
Nothing short of long denied peace, equity and justice is acceptable. Israeli equivocation and refusal to cooperate no longer wash. Pay back time is now. So is ending long denied justice.
The Global BDS Movement lists nine ways to effectively support Gaza by boycotts, divestment and sanctions:
1. Boycott Israeli companies’ goods and services as well as international companies “involved in Israel’s human rights violations.”
2. Follow BDS campaigns online and through the social media. Urge others to do the same.
3. Learn more about BDS activities and spread the word.
4. Get involved in your area for long denied justice.
5. Take action online and through the social media.
6. “Campaign against your own community’s complicity in Israel’s violations of international law.”
7. Urge organizations you’re involved with to endorse BDS.
8. “Organise a boycott action at a retailer that sells Israeli goods.”
9. “Share this list.” Urge others to act for justice.
On July 30, the Global BDS Movement headlined “Stand with Palestinian workers in Gaza: a call for trade union solidarity,” saying:
The Palestinian trade union movement unanimously urges other trade unions internationally to act on behalf of besieged Gazans and hold Israel accountable for high crimes against peace.
Entire families were massacred. Large parts of Gaza lie in ruins. Around 2,000 were murdered in cold blood. Many thousands more were injured.
Israel committed one of history’s great crimes. An unconscionable humanitarian disaster persists.
Critical shortages of housing, food, water, medicines and supplies as well as power and other vital infrstructure exacerbate horrific conditions with little relief in sight.
Pro-Israeli propaganda substitutes for truth and full disclosure. Palestinians are wrongfully blamed for its crimes.
World leaders able to act responsibly yawn and do nothing to help. Israel is free to commit crimes of war, against humanity and genocide with impunity.
Enough is enough. This no longer can be tolerated. Sustained, committed, intensified Global BDS actions against Israel can work as intended.
The movement recommends the following actions:
“1. Stop handling goods imported from or exported to Israel.
2. Divest your trade union pension – and other –  funds from Israel Bonds as well as from corporations and banks that complicit in Israel’s occupation and human rights violations.
3. Dissociate from Israeli trade unions which are complicit in the occupation.
4. Support our call for a military embargo on Israel.
5. Share information with your members about the siege and destruction of Gaza and ask your members to boycott Israeli products and to share their knowledge with family, co-workers, and friends.”
Isolate Israel effectively until it complies fully with international laws, norms and standards.
Ordinary people committed for equity and justice can make a difference.
On August 1, the Global BDS Movement reported the loss of a large export deal because of Israel’s Gaza aggression.
The fruit juice producer Priniv was affected. Mounting evidence shows a growing “silent anti-Israeli boycott” by European companies fearful of being associated with a lawless, racist terror state.
Business deals are being cancelled. Others aren’t be negotiated. Israel is being hit harder where it hurts most – in its economy.
On August 1, the Global BDS Movement headlined “Round-up: Israel’s massacre in Gaza prompts international sanctions and boycott action,” saying:
  • Chile suspended Israeli trade agreement negotiations;
  • five Latin American countries recalled their Israeli ambassadors – Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador. Perhaps others will follow;
  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff condemned what she called Israel’s “massacre;”
  • Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel’s Operation Protective Edge “genocide.”
  • Bolivia’s Evo Morales calls Israel a “terrorist state.” He expressed solidarity with beleaguered Palestinians and besieged, suffering Gazans. He encourages BDS.
  • South Africa’s ruling ANC party parliamentary group called for the government to recall its ambassador and expel Israel’s envoy.
  • Spain announced a “provisional” suspension of military exports to Israel.
  • Politicians and political parties worldwide urged similar actions.
  • the Maldives government cancelled three bilateral agreements with Israel. It may prohibit importation of Israeli products.
  • Six Nobel laureates, dozens of celebrities, other prominent figures, and thousands of ordinary ones urged a military embargo on Israel.
  • BDS initiatives are growing worldwide.
According to BDS spokesperson for the Palestinian BDS National Committee, Zaid Shuaibi:
“The trade and diplomatic sanctions taken in particular by countries from the global south are a hugely welcome step that we urge other governments to follow.”
“States have a legal and moral obligation to do all that they can to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law, including by cancelling free trade agreements and imposing a military embargo, as a first concrete step.”
“All across the world, people are echoing the call from Palestinian civil society for a full military embargo on Israel as the most urgent measure of accountability.”
Israel’s on-going massacre, its deliberate and premeditated targeting of schools, hospitals and civilians, including children, in accordance with its criminal Dahiya Doctrine, makes any continued military cooperation with Israel an indefensible act of conscious complicity.
While most governments support Israel, growing numbers of officials and other figures in them are reconsidering what’s no longer justified.
It’s long past time Israel and its culpable officials were held accountable for high crimes against peace too grave to ignore.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said earlier:
“Those who choose not to act to stop Israel’s massacre, especially those whose governments are implicated in Israeli war crimes, are choosing the “side of the oppressor.”
On Saturday, August 9, the largest ever Palestinian solidarity demonstrations occurred in US cities and others worldwide.
Hundreds of thousands participated for long denied justice. It shows growing numbers of ordinary people care. They no longer tolerate Israeli high crimes against peace.
America and Israel far and away have the world’s worse human rights records. No other nations approach their unprincipled history from inception.
They’re guilty of virtually every high crime imaginable and then some. They remain unaccountable. It’s long past time that changed.
It bears repeating. Committed ordinary people can make a difference. It’s the only way constructive change is possible. Bottom up alone works. Never top down. Israel’s day of reckoning awaits.

Buycott app gets public to boycott Israeli produce


As critics of Israel’s policy in Gaza lose faith in governments to take action, a new app is helping them to it themselves. Buycott is one of the hottest items on the market as shoppers are using it in their droves to avoid purchasing Israeli products.

The Buycott app has a number of groups, which its users can join, with one of the most successful being the “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel” group. Numbering just a few hundred users in mid-July, it has surged in popularity in a month, with over a quarter of a million people currently signed up, according to the Buycott website.

Screenshot from buycott.com

Screenshot from buycott.com

The “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel” group on the Buycott app was set up in April by a British teenager. It is going from strength to strength. The group saw traffic grow by almost 30 percent in just 12 hours on the morning of Thursday 7.

“I noticed three weeks ago that we were seeing an unusual spike in traffic, but there hadn’t been any articles written about the app or Israel campaigns,” said Ivan Pardo, speaking to Forbes. “Next thing I knew Buycott was a top 10 app in the UK and Netherlands, and #1 in a number of Middle Eastern countries. Word was spreading through social media.”

The groups mission is about, “ordinary people around the world using their right to help bring an end to the oppression in Palestine. It’s a peaceful means of putting international pressure on the state of Israel and follows in the successful boycott against South African apartheid,” a message on the “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel” application stated.

The app works by allowing shoppers to scan barcodes of food products, such as a tub of hummus, to see if it was produced in Israel, or has any links with companies that support Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The scanning process takes just a few seconds and then provides information about the company, such as its location and its website.

The Long Live Palestine, boycott Israel group has 49 companies on its ‘companies to avoid’ list, which range from Victoria’s Secret, which is one of the largest clients of Delta Galil, who operate a textile factory in the West Bank industrial zone of Barkan, to Volvo, who’s machinery has been used to destroy Palestinian settlements in violation of international law.

In contrast, the group also supports four companies, such as the Taybeh Brewing Company, which operates a Palestinian owned brewery and winery in the West Bank. Also on the list is the UK cosmetics firm Lush, which has striven to raise awareness of the struggle for human rights in Palestine.

Social media has been playing its own part in trying to put economic pressure on Israel to halt its actions in Gaza. The Israeli company SodaStream, which is also on “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel’s” list has come in for particular criticism.

SodaStream has its main plant in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomim, which is an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank, while the Boycott website also states that Palestinians who work there are paid less than half the minimum wage.

The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targets products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions.

In February, BDS hit the headlines when it demanded Oxfam drop Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson as an ambassador for her endorsement of SodaStream. They argued that Johansson’s role in Oxfam undermined the organization’s supposed condemnation of economic corporation with Israeli settlements.

“A refusal to part ways with Johansson will tarnish the charity’s credibility among Palestinians and many people of conscience around the world,” said the BDS in a statement.

Meanwhile, SodaStream’s UK operations were dealt a blow in July after department store John Lewis decided to stop stocking the product in its shops, while another store in Brighton, which had endured protests for two years, also decided to close.

Sarah Colborne, the director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, attributed the closure of the Brighton store as well the decision by John Lewis, directly to pressure from the BDS movement.

“The news that SodaStream is closing its main UK store and that John Lewis is taking Soda Stream products off its shelves is a major success for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” she said, according to Haaretz.

[source]

Why Israel Fears the Boycott


JERUSALEM — IF Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail because of Israel’s continuing construction of illegal settlements, the Israeli government is likely to face an international boycott “on steroids,” as Mr. Kerry warned last August.

These days, Israel seems as terrified by the “exponential” growth of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (or B.D.S.) movement as it is by Iran’s rising clout in the region. Last June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively declared B.D.S. a strategic threat. Calling it the “delegitimization” movement, he assigned the overall responsibility for fighting it to his Strategic Affairs Ministry. But B.D.S. doesn’t pose an existential threat to Israel; it poses a serious challenge to Israel’s system of oppression of the Palestinian people, which is the root cause of its growing worldwide isolation.

The Israeli government’s view of B.D.S. as a strategic threat reveals its heightened anxiety at the movement’s recent spread into the mainstream. It also reflects the failure of the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s well-endowed “Brand Israel” campaign, which reduces B.D.S. to an image problem and employs culture as a propaganda tool, sending well-known Israeli figures around the world to show Israel’s prettier face.

Begun in 2005 by the largest trade union federations and organizations in Palestinian society, B.D.S. calls for ending Israel’s 1967 occupation, “recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality,” and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced and dispossessed in 1948.

Why should Israel, a nuclear power with a strong economy, feel so vulnerable to a nonviolent human rights movement?

Israel is deeply apprehensive about the increasing number of American Jews who vocally oppose its policies — especially those who are joining or leading B.D.S. campaigns. It also perceives as a profound threat the rising dissent among prominent Jewish figures who reject its tendency to speak on their behalf, challenge its claim to be the “national home” of all Jews, or raise the inherent conflict between its ethno-religious self-definition and its claim to democracy. What I. F. Stone prophetically wrote about Israel back in 1967, that it was “creating a kind of moral schizophrenia in world Jewry” because of its “racial and exclusionist” ideal, is no longer beyond the pale.

Israel is also threatened by the effectiveness of the nonviolent strategies used by the B.D.S. movement, including its Israeli component, and by the negative impact they have had on Israel’s standing in world public opinion. As one Israeli military commander said in the context of suppressing Palestinian popular resistance to the occupation, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.

The landslide vote by the American Studies Association in December to endorse an academic boycott of Israel, coming on the heels of a similar decision by the Association for Asian-American Studies, among others, as well as divestment votes by several university student councils, proves that B.D.S. is no longer a taboo in the United States.

The movement’s economic impact is also becoming evident. The recent decision by the $200 billion Dutch pension fund PGGM to divest from the five largest Israeli banks because of their involvement in occupied Palestinian territory has sent shock waves through the Israeli establishment.

To underscore the “existential” danger that B.D.S. poses, Israel and its lobby groups often invoke the smear of anti-Semitism, despite the unequivocal, consistent position of the movement against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. This unfounded allegation is intended to intimidate into silence those who criticize Israel and to conflate such criticism with anti-Jewish racism.

Arguing that boycotting Israel is intrinsically anti-Semitic is not only false, but it also presumes that Israel and “the Jews” are one and the same. This is as absurd and bigoted as claiming that a boycott of a self-defined Islamic state like Saudi Arabia, say, because of its horrific human rights record, would of necessity be Islamophobic.

The B.D.S. movement’s call for full equality in law and policies for the Palestinian citizens of Israel is particularly troubling for Israel because it raises questions about its self-definition as an exclusionary Jewish state. Israel considers any challenge to what even the Department of State has criticized as its system of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens as an “existential threat,” partially because of the apartheid image that this challenge evokes.

Tellingly, the Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt by Israeli liberals to have their nationality or ethnicity listed simply as “Israeli” in the national population registry (which has categories like Jew, Arab, Druse, etc.). The court found that doing so would be a serious threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Israel remains the only country on earth that does not recognize its own nationality, as that would theoretically avail equal rights to all its citizens, undermining its “ethnocratic” identity. The claim that B.D.S., a nonviolent movement anchored in universal principles of human rights, aims to “destroy” Israel must be understood in this context.

Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel? Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa? Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.

Likewise, only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

[source]

Norman Finklestein – Gaza Massacre


I’ve always claimed that what Israel (a foreign occupation in Palestine) is doing to the population in Gaza isn’t a ‘War’ but ‘Massacre’.  I’ve always expressed and discussed the difference between using the word ‘War’ and using the word ‘Massacre’ when it comes to Gaza and Israel.  Norman Finklestein, in 2012 demonstrated that in Gaza we are witnessing a massacre and not a war.  This video is as relevant in today’s massacre in Gaza (2014) as it was in 2012.

Please note:  I do my part in exposing Israel massacre in Gaza (and in Palestine).  You can help by doing the following simple steps:

1.  Boycott Israel Products and products made by other companies around the world who directly or indirectly support Israel.

2.  Create a blog, a twitter account, Facebook account and share the information to expose Israel massacre in Palestine & Gaza.

3.  Use social media to bring the truth out into the open, you’ll be surprised how effective this can be in today’s world.

4.  Do your research into the history of Palestine and Israel (the foreign occupation of Palestine) and talk and share the facts leading up to today.

5.  Be confident and positive about Palestine and don’t let anyone strangle your voice, opinion and views on Palestine.

Boycott Israel Today


After a prolonged hiatus I have decided to resurrect this blog.  In aid to ‘do something‘ about the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians in Palestine this blog and its purpose is my contribution.  So stay tuned for some important information predominately about products made in Israel or those companies which directly or indirectly support the ongoing activities of Zionists in Palestine.

#BoycottIsrael

 

Aid ship rejects Israeli deal


The crew of a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza have rejected an offer to unload its cargo in Israel and take it across the border.

The Irish/Malaysian-owned vessel, MV Rachel Corrie, has vowed to continue to sail into an exclusion zone where there was a deadly commando attack by Israeli troops earlier in the week.

Activists refused to accept a deal brokered between officials from the Irish and Israeli Governments as the vessel sailed in international waters just 100 miles from Gaza.

First mate Derek Graham said: “The reason we rejected the offer is because we are trying to highlight the situation that Gaza is under siege by air, sea and land and we are trying to break that siege.

“We want to show this siege is illegal and subjecting a nation to poverty. If we bring this cargo to Ashdod it’s only a fraction of what they need. We need to be able to do this continuously.”

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin said: “If, as is their stated intention, the Israeli government intercepts the Rachel Corrie, the Government demands that it demonstrate every restraint. Those on board the Rachel Corrie have made clear their peaceful intentions and have stated that they will offer no resistance to Israeli forces.”

43 Years of Occupation


By Jesse Bacon

Israel has stopped one boat, but it can’t stop the movement. Readers of this blog know the struggle has been going on long before the Gaza Freedom Flotilla set sail, and it continues and will only grow in strength. The protests commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are carrying on, as more boats set sail for Gaza.

We’ll have live tweets so night owls and early risers in the United States can follow this protest over at Jewish Voice for Peace’s twitter feed. Then come back here tomorrow for a recap.

Tomorrow: Thousands to Mark 43 Years of Occupation Near Route 443
Palestinians and Israelis will demonstrate tomorrow, Friday, June 4th, near the village of Beit Nuba, which was demolished by Israel in 1967, near Route 443. Similar demonstrations, also denouncing the massacre aboard the Freedom Flotilla will take place across the West Bank.

Dozens of Israeli anti-Occupation organizations will join the Palestinian Popular Committees for a demonstration marking 43 years of occupation tomorrow. The protesters will denounce the killing aboard the Mavi Marmara, and call to end the siege over Gaza, to dismantle the Wall and settlements, and for freedom of movement for Palestinians.

MK Haneen Zouabi, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara,(the boat attacked by Israeli commandoes with at least 10 deaths) Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian al-Mubadara Party, Maher Ghuneim, Minister for the Wall in the Palestinian Authority, former MK Uri Avnery, and Palestinian Legislative Committee Members Qais Abd el-Karim (Abu Laila) and Mahmoud al-Aloul – will participate in the demonstration.

Additional demonstrations will take place in the villages on Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah, Deir al-Ghussoun, north of Tul Karem, Ni’ilin – where demonstrators will also mark a year to the death of protester Aqel Srour by sniper-fire shot at him during a demonstration, and in the villages of Bil’in, West of Ramallah and al-Ma’asara, south of Bethlehem, where demonstrators will carry mock ships and will try to break the siege on their own villages.

Road to nowhere: During the occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, the Israeli army destroyed the villages of Yalu, Beit Nuba and Amuasse in the Latrun enclave. “Canada Park” and a number of settlements were built on their lands.

Most of the residents of these three displaced villages currently live in villages near Highway 443, such as Beit Liqya, Beit Sira and Beit Ur. In the eighties, thousands of acres were confiscated by Israel along the road, claiming that the road will serve as the main traffic artery for these villages to Ramallah.

However, the road has been closed for years for Palestinian vehicles. Following the High Court ruling on Route 443, a small section of the road was opened last week for Palestinian traffic, but is still nearly useless for the villagers, as access to Ramallah from it is disallowed, turning it into a highway to nowhere for Palestinians.

Who Sells Israeli Goods


SUPERMARKETS

All major UK retailers sell Israeli goods, and most of them sell produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Some have made statements in support of Zionism and some have contracts with Israeli companies.

There is a growing movement to boycott Israeli goods in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in line with an international call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. There have been reports in the press that Israeli producers are experiencing a decline in demand for Israeli produce since the bombardment of Gaza in January 2009. This could be the beginning of a snowball effect for the global boycott movement.

Tesco

Tesco stores stock a large amount of produce grown in the Occupied Territories and purchased from the Israeli state, including fruit and vegetables from producer Carmel-Agrexco. Israeli products stocked by Tesco include fruit juice, mangoes, avocados, grapes, stonefruit, dates, herbs, pickled cucumbers, Exquisa potatoes, mixed peppers (from Israel and a second country of origin), Barkan wine, Yarden wine, biscuits, cold meat, dips, Osem soups and cakes, snacks by Beigel & Beigel, Telma (soup mixes and cubes, noodles etc) and socks (Tesco’s own brand).

Tesco sells products from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, many of which are exported by Carmel Agrexco. The company admitted sourcing ‘a number of products’ from illegal settlements, including avocados, herbs, grapes and stonefruit, such as peaches, from farms in the West Bank and Golan Heights. In 2006 War on Want reported that Tesco sells Beigel and Beigel products sourced from the settlements. Tesco also sells gas cylinders for products made by settlement company Soda Club, and repackages settlement dates from Hadiklaim as Tesco own brand dates. Mehadrin-Tnuport Export Company (MTex) supplies Tesco with settlement citrus fruit and there are links between Tesco and the Arava settlement company.

In October 2007, a group of campaigners from the Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group entered Tomer settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley and photographed medjoul dates, packaged by Carmel Agrexco, labelled ‘Made in Israel’ and marked as bound for Tesco stores.

Products exported as ‘Made in Israel’ benefit from the preferential trade terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which came into effect in 2000. Settlement products, however, are excluded from the beneficial terms of the EU-IAA.

When ITN screened an expose in 2007 accusing supermarkets of misleading British consumers, Tesco admitted it had acted “in error” and stated that Israeli dates “originating solely in the West Bank will [in the future] be labelled as such.”

BIGCampaign and others groups have been campaigning against the ‘West Bank’ label as it misleads consumers into believing produce from illegal settlements is actually Palestinian. The Palestinian General Delegation to the UK has written a letter of protest to Tesco, and other retailers, for persisting in the use of this misleading label.

Tesco says that ‘freedom of choice’ is one of the company’s priorities and consumers can choose not to buy Israeli products. However, in correspondence with campaigners in 2006, Tesco representatives said they were phasing out Tesco’s line of Israeli peppers due to consumer pressure. Boycott Israeli Goods campaigners have also consistently attended the Tesco AGM to raise the issue of settlement produce and propose a boycott of Israeli goods.

John Porter, one of the principal shareholders in Tesco, also has substantial investments in Israeli companies. In 2000, Tesco awarded a $1 million IT contract to the Israeli firm Tescom to provide a solution for Tesco’s Year 2000 conversion requirements.

During the bombing of Gaza, Tesco was targeted across the country by campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. In Swansea, activists stole Israeli settlement produce from Tesco and sprayed it with red dye to highlight Tesco’s complicity in Israel’s war crimes by profiting from settlement produce and enabling the settlements to trade and profit from their illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Address:

Email: customer.service@tesco.co.uk
Tesco PLC
New Tesco House
Delamare Road
Cheshunt
Hertfordshire
England EN8 9SL
Marks & Spencer

Historically, Marks & Spencer has made statements in support of Zionism. Lord Sieff, chairman and founder of M&S who died in 2001, made several statements in support of Israel’s military policies. In 1941, Sieff said that “large sections of the Arab population of Palestine should be transplanted to Iraq and other Middle-Eastern Arab States” (Jewish Chronicle, 21/09/1941). In 1990, Sieff, in a book entitled On Management: The Marks and Spencer Way, wrote that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S was to “aid the economic development of Israel.”

There have been no reports of M&S openly showing ideological support for Israel since 2004. The retail company has repeatedly asserted that “[it has] no ‘special’ relationship with any government, political party or religious group” but accepts that M&S does “make representations to governments in support of [its] commercial aims.” M&S management has not, to our knowledge, commented on Lord Sieff’s remarks in support of Zionism and has not made a statement as to whether the current management stands by them.

In 1998, Sir Richard Greenbury, then CEO of Marks & Spencer, received the Jubilee Award from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In 2000, the Jerusalem Report stated that “M&S supports Israel with $233 million in trade each year.”

In October 2000, the Jewish Chronicle reported that the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce (B-ICC) had held meetings at Marks & Spencer’s offices in Baker Street. However, in 2008 the store claimed that M&S “do not host meetings on our premises for the B-ICC.” Nevertheless, in December 2004, Stuart Rose, CEO of Marks and Spencer at the time, was a listed speaker at the annual dinner of the B-ICC.

When questioned in correspondence about the sale of Israeli goods in M&S stores in 2008, an M&S spokesperson said that the company buys “from Israel as… from 70 other countries…” and went on to state that the company would continue to do so. The letter continued to say that, “[w]e always put the country of origin on the products we sell. Where we buy Israeli products we label them as products of Israel.”

M&S stocks Israeli grapes, lychees, figs, plums, dates, fresh herbs, sweet potatoes, potatoes (Maris Piper, Desiree, Jacket, Marfona, and King Edward). Many of these products are imported through Carmel-Agrexco, a company part-owned by the Israeli state.

M&S also stocks large quantities of Delta Galil clothing, largely underwear. Delta Galil is Israel’s largest manufacturer and marketer of textiles. It is also a major beneficiary of the establishment of ‘Qualifying Industrial Zones’ (QIZ) in Egypt and Jordan which promote an unequal normalisation of trade arrangements between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt and Jordan. Marks and Spencer also sells textiles produced by Israeli firms, Solog and Polgat.

Until very recently, M&S openly sold products from illegal Israeli settlements. The Guardian reported in 2004 that the company stocked an extensive range of settlement products. Since 2007, however, M&S has made repeated statements to the press claiming that they do not stock goods from the Occupied Territories (see here, for example). In 2008, the store wrote: “We do not buy products from the West Bank, Golan Heights or Gaza as we cannot safely visit the suppliers in these areas because of the current security situation.” It seems probable that the move to cease selling settlement products was, in fact, due to effective campaigning, protests and fear of adverse press coverage.

But despite the above assurance, there is evidence that M&S continues to stock Hadiklaim dates packaged as an M&S own brand product. According to a recent report by School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Hadiklaim, the Israel Date Growers’ Cooperative Ltd, “exports dates from Israel and from the occupied territories, especially Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley.”

In correspondence with SOAS in 2008, David Gregory, Technical Food Director for M&S, stated the following:

“In the past, we have sold dates from this region. However, we made a policy decision sometime ago to cease all purchases from this area. However, our UK suppliers do buy raw material (dates) from the organisation Hadiklaim on our behalf. The contract explicitly prohibits purchase from Palestinian Territories and Hadiklaim source the dates from elsewhere within Israel to satisfy our requirements. Traceability systems are in place to confirm the source of the dates.”

M&S has faced sustained protests due to their historic ideological support for the Israeli state and because of their policy of stocking Israeli goods. Pickets have been held and store signs and billboards subvertised. In Manchester, three pickets were held in January 2009 in response to the bombing of Gaza. Weekly demonstrations have been held in Newcastle and in London. M&S has repeatedly ignored campaigners’ representations against the continued sale of Israeli goods.

Address:
Marks and Spencer plc
Waterside House
35 North Wharf Road
London W2 1NW
Email: customer.services@marks-and-spencer.com

ASDA

ASDA sells Israeli basil, tarragon, rosemary, sage, chives, dill, mint, thyme, passion fruit, mangoes, Blackfine plums, autumn red plums, medjoul dates, dragon fruit, pomegranates, avocados, organic sweet potatoes, sweet pointed peppers (red), sweet potatoes (“Georgia Jet”), frozen meat, biscuits, table wine (red, white, rose & sparkling), garden storage units and tinned grapefruit. ASDA also sells Carmel-Agrexco products (see above).

Since ITN’s 2007 report, ASDA has made several statements denying that it stocks goods in its stores from the ‘West Bank’ (i.e. settlement goods). However, ASDA has recently made several ambiguous statements contradicting its earlier stance. A spokesperson from the company recently wrote, in correspondence with campaigners: “I am sure you can imagine it is very difficult for ASDA to take a position on behalf of all our customers over politically controversial issues such as the current conflict you refer to (the occupation of Palestine). On the sourcing of products from overseas we are always guided by the position of the UK Government and by the European Union on trade policy.”

There is evidence that ASDA does stock goods from illegal Israeli settlements in its UK stores. ASDA stocks potatoes from Mehadrin-Tnuport Export Company (MTex). MTex is now the second-largest Israeli exporter of fresh produce to the UK after Agrexco. In 2005, the company exported 1,500 tonnes to the UK, with a value of £25 million. MTex exports fruit and vegetables from the region, stretching from Lake Tiberias to the Dead Sea; this includes territory both inside and outside the green line.

Campaigners have recently reported seeing herbs labelled ‘West Bank Israeli Settlements’ in ASDA stores. At least that’s accurate labelling but it does contradict ASDA’s previous statements to the press.

Campaigners have held many pickets of ASDA stores in Brighton and London in 2009 protesting against their sale of Israeli goods.

Address:
Paul Mason, Chief Executive Officer
Great Wilson Street,
Leeds LS11 5AD
Telephone: 0113 243 5435
Fax: 0113 241 8666

Co-op

Despite the Co-operative family of businesses’ ethical image, the shelves of its supermarkets and high street stores have been found to carry Israeli products, including Carmel mangoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, sweet peppers (grown by Sulat), cherry tomatoes, herbs, passion fruit, Jaffa oranges and own brand tinned grapefruit.

The Co-op has faced pickets and repeated representations from consumers and campaigners over its sale of produce from illegal settlements and Israeli produce. In the last year, criticism has centred around the sale of settlement produce. For example, campaigners attended the Co-operative Group South East Region General Meeting in January 2008 and raised concerns about the ethics of selling settlement produce. The Co-op board undertook to look into conditions on settlement farms. Throughout the year, the issue was raised with Co-op management by members of the Co-op and its customers.

On the 5th January 2009 Len Wardle, Co-operative Group chair, wrote:

“The Co-operative Group board has decided to suspend sourcing products from illegal West Bank settlements. However, we will continue to trade with Israel and will seek to develop trading links with Palestinian farmers. The Co-operative Group only rarely curtails trade with particular countries or regions. However, in the case of the illegal settlement in the Israeli controlled occupied territories, it has proven to be all but impossible to ensure that supplies derived from the region are not perpetuating injustice and unfair terms of trade. We will no longer source dates, grapes and a number of herbs from the illegal West Bank settlements and will be phasing out the use of similar items from our own brand products.”

In making this statement, the Co-op is the first store to base its reasons for ceasing the sale of settlement goods on ethical concerns. The statement is weaker in some ways than that of M&S, but only in that it precludes the sale of West Bank goods and not produce from the Golan Heights. It is also unclear whether the Co-op’s definition of the West Bank includes East Jerusalem. Moreover, the Co-operative Group does not make any assurance that it will not sell products in its stores supplied by companies which source products from both the settlements and 1948 Israel, such as Hadiklaim, M-Tex and Carmel Agrexco.

In November 2008, YNet claimed that the Co-op had met with the Co-op Israel (a separate organisation) and agreed to open a chain of kosher supermarkets which will be equally owned by Co-op Israel and the UK Co-op. The UK Co-op has refuted this claim but admitted that a meeting took place with Co-op Israel.

On 16th February, 2009, students at the University of Aberdeen protested at the university’s Elphinstone Hall, where Co-op members were meeting, to pressure the food retailer to ban all Israeli products from its stores. A Co-op representative at the meeting said a motion on the subject of Israeli goods was due to be discussed by the organisation’s executive.

Address:
The Co-operative Group
Customer Relations
Freepost MR9473
Manchester
Email: customer.relations@co-op.co.uk

Waitrose

Waitrose stocks Israeli basil, tarragon, thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, oregano, mint, curly leaf parsley, ‘Red Rosa’ pears, sharon fruit, passion fruit, figs, lychees, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, grapes, strawberries, pomelos, pomegranates, galia melons, dragonfruit, organic medjoul dates, hadrawi dates, “Deglet Nour” dates, Cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, ‘Pamino’ peppers, ‘Red Romano’ peppers, mixed peppers, goods from the Tivall vegetarian food range, ‘Food for Thought’ snacks by Beigel & Beigel, cold meat, biscuits, dips and Dead Sea Magik cosmetics (found in John Lewis stores).

Waitrose has refused to enter into any debate about the sale of Israeli goods and its management has repeatedly refused to meet with campaigners. In February 2009, a spokesperson for the store reiterated that Waitrose was “unable to arrange a meeting”. In a letter to one customer, Waitrose said: “Whatever our own views may be about Israeli products, we do not think it is right to ask our buyers to base their choice of products on any other criteria than the commercial ones of quality and value for money.”

Waitrose stocks goods from illegal Israeli settlements and has been unresponsive to the ITN and More 4 reports which have led other stores to label their goods more clearly. The supermarket chain stocks a large range of products sourced from Carmel Agrexco, including a wide variety of organic herbs and vegetables grown on Israeli settlements, mainly in the Jordan Valley, and certified as organic by the Soil Association. Although Waitrose has not made statements to the press about labelling, a store spokesperson said “we clearly label our food to enable our customers to make informed choices.” It appears unclear, however, whether Waitrose still labels some goods from illegal settlements as ‘Made in Israel’.

According to War on Want’s Profiting from the Occupation report, Waitrose sells Beigel and Beigel products. Beigel and Beigel Ltd. is located in the Barkan industrial zone in the occupied West Bank and produces pretzels, savoury biscuits and crackers.

The John Lewis Partnership is one of the only large retailers to sell Ahava beauty products. Ahava is a settlement company based on the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Waitrose also sells dates from settler company Hadiklaim (see above).

Waitrose claims that, if it ceased to deal with Israeli settlements, it would impact on Palestinian farmers. In correspondence with consumers, the retailer has described the settlement farms it works with as “joint Israeli and Palestinian” enterprises. In February 2009, a spokesperson wrote: “We currently take organic cut herbs from two farms in the West Bank on which a mixed Palestinian-Israeli workforce have worked side by side for many years.”

Waitrose has responded to some concerns about the conditions of labourers on settlement farms. However, the response has been to assure customers that each ‘supplier’ audits the relevant settlement farms using a “tight criteria” that relates to “worker hours, salaries and employment contracts.” This effectively means that Waitrose entrusts the auditing of settlement farms to the settlement company supplying the produce, presumably Carmel Agrexco. Waitrose claims that its technical directors have inspected its supplier farms in the West Bank.

Overall, Waitrose has been one of the most intransigent British supermarkets when faced with concern over sale of Israeli produce and Israeli settler produce. The chain has been the subject of protests and pickets across the UK, including in Brighton and London where protesters dressed as burglars and displayed banners claiming “Waitrose sells stolen goods”.

Address:
Waitrose Customer Service Department
Waitrose Limited
Doncastle Road
Bracknell
Berkshire
RG12 8YA
Email: customer_service@waitrose.co.uk

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s sells Israeli oranges, grapefruit, avocados, strawberries, thyme, tarragon, parsley, coriander, rosemary, passion fruit, sharon fruit, ‘Shelly’ mangoes, mejdoul dates, lychees, fresh figs, plums, fruit juice, minneola (tangerines), potatoes (‘Desiree’, ‘Vivaldi’, ‘Rooster’, white, baking, baby, salad), sweet potatoes, peppers (‘Ramiro’), pickled cucumbers, pickled olives, radishes, ‘Splendid’ flowers, ‘Basics’ flowers, ‘Saveur Mediterranean’ hummous, turkey, smoked chicken breast, Rumples party pretzels, Osem croutons, Telma chicken soup mix and soups, feta cheese, Tivall vegetarian food range, ‘Food for Thought’ dips, table wine (red, white, rose & sparkling), Kiddush wine and Yarden wine and Osem foods.

This extensive list includes many products from illegal Israeli settlements, including fresh lemon grass from the West Bank and Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ Pomodorino tomatoes. Sainsbury’s stocks Hadiklaim dates labelled ‘Made in West Bank’ and products from Soda Club, which has an office based in the settlement of Ma’leh Adumin.

Sainsbury’s has said, in correspondence with Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign supporters, that the store is not a political organisation and it does not boycott products from any country. Sainsbury’s does acknowledge, however, that “ethical trading is a growing area of concern for our company and consumers” and that it has an “ethical trading policy.” Whether ethical trading concerns would extend to the sale of goods from an apartheid regime on occupied land, that’s not something the retailer seems interested in answering.

Palestine solidarity campaigners have attended Sainsbury’s PLC shareholders meeting several years running, in an attempt to persuade the company to stop selling Israeli goods and to label its produce more accurately.

Sainsbury’s says it is committed to ‘informative labelling’, despite describing one piece of produce as being from ‘Gaza Strip, Israel’. After the 2007 ITN report about mislabelling of settlement Medjoul dates as ‘Produce of Israel’, Sainsbury’s admitted that it had mislabelled produce and stated that “as from today, all dates from the West Bank will be labelled as coming from the West Bank. We are investigating how this error occurred.”

Meetings have been held between Sainsbury’s management and campaigners and NGOs about the labelling of settlement goods. At a meeting in 2009, James Clark, a ‘public affairs and stakeholder relations spokesperson’, told campaigners that Justin King, CEO of J Sainsbury plc, had written to Hilary Benn, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), asking him to clarify how retailers should label goods from Israeli settlements. Mr Clark said Sainsbury’s would be revising its labelling policy in the next six months and might consider labelling settlement produce ‘Produce of Israeli Settlement’. Mr Clark was not prepared to listen to arguments that settlements were illegal and argued that the store did not have instructions to this effect from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, despite the fact that this is clearly set out on the FCO website.

Sainsburys have been picketed across the UK by campaigners calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Address:
J Sainsbury plc
33 Holborn
London
EC1N 2HT

Somerfield

Somerfield sells both Israeli goods and settlement goods in its 880 stores. Apax Partners, an investment company with subsidiaries in Israel and which advises funds holding shares in Israeli settlement companies Tnuva, Agrexco Agricultural Export Company and Field Produce Ltd, has a majority of shares in Somerfield.

It seems that because of the takeover by the consortium dominated by Apax Partners in December 2005, Somerfield rescinded its commitment to the Ethical Trading Initiative. However, as of December 2008, Somerfield is in the process of being taken over by the Cooperative Group. It remains to be seen whether Somerfield, under new ownership, will take a similar stance to the Co-op against the sale of Israeli settlement produce.

Address:
Somerfield Group
Somerfield House
Whitchurch Lane
Bristol
BS14 0TJ
tel: 0117 935 9359
fax: 0117 978 0629

Principal sources for this piece:

Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign – www.bigcampaign.org
Palestine Israel Ethical Shopping Initiative – www.easi-piesi.org
Coalition of Women for Peace: Who profits from the Occupation – www.whoprofits.org
War on Want – www.waronwant.org
Palestine Solidarity Campaign – www.palestinecampaign.org
UK economic links with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory – Report produced by SOAS
Islamic Human Rights Commission – www.ihrc.org
Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group – www.brightonpalestine.org

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Joanna Blythman – Why I’m boycotting Israeli produce.


Fruit and vegetable exports are crucial to the Israeli economy. A consumer boycott of agricultural produce exerts direct economic pressure where it matters

Men of the Salmi family salvage some belongings from the rubble of their home in the Gaza City district of Zeitoun. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

If you’re not in the habit of checking the country of origin on fruit and vegetables to minimise food miles, you may not have noticed just how much Israeli produce is in our shops and supermarkets. At the moment, there are piles of new potatoes (though it’s hard to see why anyone with a scrap of environmental awareness would buy these when our indigenous main crop spuds are still firm and abundant), and that’s just for starters.

If you go out today and buy avocadoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, Medjoul dates, sharon fruit (persimmons), chillies, oranges, pomegranates, grapefruit or fresh herbs, it’s extremely likely that they will be Israeli. Most of this produce carries country of origin labelling or is branded as Carmel, Bio-Top or Jaffa. In the herb category, there’s room – intentional or otherwise – for confusion. Increasingly your dill, tarragon or basil may be labelled as ‘West Bank’. This is not a Palestinian alternative to the Israeli option; it comes from Israeli settlements in Palestine’s occupied territories.

Israel‘s agricultural exporting company, Carmel Agrexco, is one of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce to the UK. As the company puts it:

Israel’s sunny climate enables Agrexco to tap the resources of its Carmel growers most of the annum. By lining up other complementary supply sources – such as fruit, vegetable and root crop growers located in countries in the Mediterranean basin, South America, and Africa – the Carmel label is available year-round

An expert in air-freighting with a base near Heathrow, Agrexco supplies the UK with everything from sweetcorn, rocket and radishes through to melons, strawberries and kumquats, so delivering the ‘permanent global summertime’ of horticultural produce that food retailers have educated British consumers to expect.

As a business, it’s impressive, but I don’t intend to buy any of it. For people aware of the recent horror that unfolded in Gaza and the emerging evidence of the scale of destruction, this cornucopia of fruit and vegetables represents a ready-made target for taking personal action in our daily lives to express disapproval at Israel’s ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people.

We can use the same tactic against Israel that was so effective in showing up South Africa as the apartheid state it once was. The parallels with South Africa are striking. Writing in the Guardian, Naomi Klein recently reminded us of the words of Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, who said in 2007 that the segregation he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid”.

So what, exactly, is he talking about? While we have been munching our way through its avocadoes, Israel has demolished Palestinian homes, evicted their occupants and expropriated their land and water resources. It has illegally colonised productive Palestinian land with waves of settlers. A boycott of Israeli fruit and vegetables, as opposed to other sorts of boycott (academic, sporting), is particularly apt because horticulture has been a major plank of Israeli expansion. Medjoul dates in the Jordan Valley, for example, base their operations on confiscated Palestinian land, in contravention of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

As if that wasn’t enough, Israel has effectively imprisoned Palestinians with checkpoints, an illegal wall and an oppressive system of travel permits and colour-coded identity cards, so scuppering Palestinian economic development. As OXFAM told the House of Commons International Development Committee (pdf), costs for Palestinians who want to export products are up to 70% higher than for Israelis. Settlers in the West Bank get direct access to markets in and through Israel without the disruptive road blocks and transfers faced by the Palestinians who are obliged to rely on Israeli intermediaries. The revenue from taxes and customs goes to Israel, which costs the Palestinian economy 3% of its GDP a year.

Left to develop its agricultural economy, Palestine could be a fertile and productive land. Olive oil used to be a profitable export crop but according to the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem, over 500,000 ancient olive trees have been bulldozed and cut down since 2000 (see zaytoun.org) to make way for the construction of Israeli settlements, settler-only roads and the Separation Wall. Yet in recent years, and despite all the odds stacked against them, marginalised Palestinian growers have produced good extra virgin olive oil, recently gaining organic status for some of their production.

Palestinian growers tenaciously produce the Nabali green olive (pickled in the Palestinian tradition with olive oil, water and salt) tree-ripened black olive, the Middle Eastern favourite Za’atar (a herb and seed mix of wild thyme, toasted sesame and sour-tasting sumac berries), Medjoul dates from Jericho, and the celebrated large, sweet ‘Om Al-Fahem’ almond grown in Jenin. All this is available through the ethical business, Zaytoun. It also used to sell couscous from a women’s co-operative in Gaza, but even before the latest bombardment, Israel’s tightening seige of Gaza made any type of export from that area impossible.

With intractable political conflicts, sometimes it’s hard to see how individual action can make even the slightest difference. But fruit and vegetable exports to Europe are crucial to the Israeli economy, representing 80% of that country’s total exports. The UK is its largest market, eating up a 60% share. Carmel Agrexco itself is 50% owned by the Israeli state, so a consumer boycott of agricultural produce exerts direct economic pressure where it matters.

By refusing to buy Israeli produce, ethically-minded consumers can be part of the wider Boycott Israeli Goods campaign (BIG) and add to the international condemnation of Israel’s tactics in Palestine. The reasons for a boycott precede the most recent open conflict and are ever-more important. Even if the current shaky ceasefire holds, Gaza will still be an open prison and Palestine will still be a country whose food economy is actively sabotaged by its powerful neighbour. Just at the moment, many people don’t have any appetite for Israeli produce. A boycott gives us something to do about it.

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