In a European Day of Action under the banner ‘Take Apartheid off the Menu’, human rights activists in ten countries held actions on Saturday calling on consumers to boycott food products made in Israeli settlements, and urging supermarkets to stop carrying Israeli settlement-made products.Organizers of the campaign claim that fruit and vegetable imports from Israeli settlements facilitate violations of Palestinian rights and international law. The campaign is focused on leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters Mehadrin and Agrexco, among others.
Demonstrations were held outside the British and French headquarters of leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporter Mehadrin, which exports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and which activists say works with state owned company Mekerot to deprive Palestinian communities of water. Campaigners in Rome organized a Palestine contingent on a national demonstration for affordable access to water.
Jamal Juma’, coordinator with Stop the Wall, the Palestinian anti-apartheid wall campaign that is currently working to support Al Hadidiye, a Bedouin community in occupied Palestinian territory recently served with demolition orders by the Israeli authorities, said, “The residents of Al Hadidye are denied access to water and can only rear livestock as a result. In the nearby illegal settlements of Ro’I and Beqa’ot, agricultural produce is grown with an abundance of stolen water for export to Europe by Mehadrin and other companies, and it is these companies that stand to benefit from the threatened demolitions at Al Hadidye.”
“Companies like Mehadrin profit from and are often directly involved in the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land and theft of our resources. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and must be brought to an end,” Juma’ added.
Campaigners in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden picketed supermarkets, calling on consumers to boycott products from Israeli agricultural export companies and on supermarkets to stop selling them. Many focused on Co-Operative supermarkets, which are traditionally thought to have higher ethical standards than other high street supermarkets.
“Popular BDS campaigns and the public pressure that results from them have already forced supermarkets in a number of European countries to implement policies they claim prevent the sale of produce from Israel’s illegal colonies,” said Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee.
“But it’s Israel’s agricultural export companies that bear responsibility for complicity with Israel’s violations of international law, not the individual pieces of produce. These companies have been proven to mislead consumers about the origin of the produce they sell. That’s why campaigners are calling for a complete end to trade with these companies,” she added.
In Belgium, campaigners held lobby actions at the offices of the Ministry of the Economy, to protest the sale in Belgian supermarkets of produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.
The actions took place as part of the rapidly emerging Palestinian-led movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.