[News] Ireland’s biggest food retailer drops Israeli produce as European boycotts surge

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 15 14:40:28 EDT 2014


  Ireland’s biggest food retailer drops Israeli produce as European
  boycotts surge

Submitted by Michael Deas on Fri, 08/15/2014 - 14:12
*http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-deas/irelands-biggest-food-retailer-drops-israeli-produce-european-boycotts-surge*

Major Israeli food exporters are facing an unprecedented wave of 
cancelations in orders from Europe as a result of Israel’s most recent 
massacre <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/gazaunderattack> of 
Palestinians in Gaza <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza>.

SuperValu, the biggest food distributor in Ireland, told the Irish media 
<http://www.herald.ie/news/supervalu-boycotts-israeli-products-30483160.html> 
last week that it has withdrawn Israeli products from its shops.

And Israeli media reports suggest that other major European retailers 
have taken similar decisions without announcing them publicly.

Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters have faced cancelations from 
Scandinavia, the UK, France, Belgium and Ireland.

Retailers have become fearful of the rapidly growing consumer boycott of 
Israeli goods, according to an 11 August article 
<http://www.themarker.com/news/macro/1.2402510> in Hebrew business 
website /The Marker/.

A spokesperson for EDOM, a major Israeli fruit grower and exporter that 
has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements 
<http://corporateoccupation.org/edom-still-sourcing-products-from-tomer-settlement/> 
in the occupied West Bank, told /The Marker/:

    Importers from Europe are telling us that they can’t sell Israeli
    produce … One European buyer has told me that he had been blocked in
    several chains in Denmark and Sweden, and then in Belgium. Last
    weekend, he told me that mangoes which had been packaged in the
    Netherlands, as always, and shipped to Ireland, were returned,
    claiming that Israeli produce would not be accepted …

    I’ve heard of major exporters from whom chains in southern France
    are no longer buying. There is no official boycott, but everyone is
    afraid of selling Israeli fruits. We can only hope that things do
    not get worse.

Among the other exporters interviewed for the article is an Israeli 
pomegranate grower who is quoted as saying that they had been forced to 
cancel their “entire work plan in the UK” because major retail chains 
were no longer interested in Israeli goods, and that similar messages 
had been received from importers in Belgium and Scandinavia.

A separate article published 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/major-israeli-exporter-reports-cancelled-orders-due-to-israeli-massacre-in-gaza-12413> 
in /The Marker/ on 27 July details how fruit juice producer Priniv had 
lost a major contract with a business in Sweden 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/sweden> after refusing a request to 
export the produce in a way that would make it easier to conceal the 
fact it was produced in Israel. Customers in Belgium and France also 
made similar requests.

Priniv director Ido Yaniv attributes the drop in sales to Israel’s 
attack on Gaza.

Organized boycott, divestment and sanctions 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/bds> (BDS) campaigns have in recent 
years succeeded in pressuring retailers across Europe to announce that 
they will not stock produce from illegal Israeli settlements or from 
companies that operate in settlements. The Tesco 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/tesco> chain the UK is the latest to 
make such an announcement.

But it is now becoming increasingly clear that European businesses are 
starting to react to growing public support for Palestinian rights and 
boycotts of Israel in Europe. They are deciding not to sell Israeli 
produce of any kind — at least for now.


    “Disposal” of Israeli goods

Ireland’s largest grocery and food retailer distributor SuperValu 
instructed all of its 232 stores to remove Israeli products from the 
shelves earlier this month.

In an email to store managers, the chain called on store managers to 
“remove all stock from available sale and dispose of [it] at store level.”

“It’s mostly fruit and vegetables, carrots and herbs more specifically,” 
a source from the retailer told the /Irish / 
<http://www.herald.ie/news/supervalu-boycotts-israeli-products-30483160.html>//Herald 
<http://www.herald.ie/news/supervalu-boycotts-israeli-products-30483160.html>/. 
/

Following the /Irish Herald/ story, SuperValu issued a statement saying 
that it has not officially endorsed the boycott of Israel but did not 
deny that Israeli products have been removed from its stores.

Major Irish toy store Smyths may have taken a similar decision, 
temporarily displaying a poster at one Dublin store stating that it had 
removed products made in Israel from the shelves.

The decisions come as part of a huge upsurge in support of the 
Palestinian struggle and boycotts of Israel across Ireland.

Protests have been held in retailers across the country and calls for 
boycott have been made by national trade unions, local councils and even 
sports stars including Irish and Leinster rugby star Gordon Darcy.


    Building the boycott

Calls for boycotts of Israeli products, for sanctions and a military 
embargo to be imposed on Israel have been a key part 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/hundreds-of-thousands-day-of-rage-for-gaza-12439> 
of the huge mass demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza that have taken 
place across the world in recent weeks.

Civil society organizations are responding to the attack on Gaza by 
announcing new boycott initiatives 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/gaza-sanctions-and-boycott-action-12410>.

In the weeks and months that follow, the challenge for campaigners will 
be to ramp up the pressure on retailers to remove Israeli products and 
to make their refusal to do so public.

Campaigns against the sale of Israeli fresh produce have been a major 
focus of the solidarity movement in Europe in recent years.

BDS initiatives have focused on Israeli companies such as Mehadrin and 
EDOM that play a key role in the colonization of Palestinian land in the 
West Bank and profit from the siege of Gaza, as research published by 
Palestinian farming unions has detailed 
<http://bdsmovement.net/activecamps/farming-injustice>.

In January, Israeli settler leaders in the Jordan Valley 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/jordan-valley> region of the West 
Bank told the Associated Press 
<http://bigstory.ap.org/article/minister-lack-peace-will-hurt-israeli-economy> 
that the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign had cost settlers 
$29 million in lost sales, especially in Europe.

Campaigns against Israeli fresh produce exporters have intensified 
following the decision 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/bds-milestone-uk-supermarket-chain-boycott-israel-firms-doing-business> 
by the UK Co-operative 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/co-operative-group> retail chain to 
boycott all companies that operate in settlements, with campaigns also 
underway in France <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/france>, Spain 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/spain>, Belgium 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/belgium>, the Netherlands 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/netherlands>, Germany 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/germany>, Norway 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/norway> and Sweden.

In 2011, Israeli export company Agrexco 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/carmel-agrexco> entered into 
liquidation 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2011/palestinian-civil-society-welcomes-agrexco-liquidation-calls-for-celebration-of-this-bds-victory-8096> 
after boycotts and campaigns in thirteen European countries that saw 
retailers cut links with the company, blockades of its UK and Belgium 
warehouses and a huge mobilization against plans for an Agrexco 
distribution center in Sete in the south of France.

Israeli analyst Shir Hever 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/shir-hever> suggested at the time 
that farmers leaving Agrexco to export their products through other 
channels because of the boycott campaign was a major factor behind the 
company’s collapse.

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