Anti-Israel rallies expected in the UK

Nationwide protests are planned for Sunday, February 9 in the United Kingdom by protesters who are calling on British supermarket chain Sainsbury's for trading with "companies accused of  operating in illegal Israel settlements and mislabelling goods." A news release from a pressure group, War on Want, called on Sainsbury's to " stop trading with companies profiting from the occupation."

War on Want also called for the British government to ban trade with companies operating in Israeli settlements. The group warned that the British government’s policy of asking retailers to label settlement products is not working and does not go far enough to tackle the issue.

The group's supporters will demonstrate at Sainsbury's all over the UK to denounce claims that the supermarket giant does business with the Israeli firms EDOM and Mehadrin. According to War on Want, both companies have faced recent accusations of operations in illegal Israeli settlements and alleged to be mislabelling settlement produce as 'Made in Israel'. Mehadrin is a distributor of 'Jaffa' brand of citrus fruit, and operates subsidiaries and warehouses in the UK, US and Sweden. 

War on Want points out that Sainsbury's competitor, the Co-Operative, already refuses to trade with Israeli firms profiting from the so-called "occupation", including Mehadrin.
 
Rafeef Ziadah of War on Want was quoted as saying, “Sainsbury’s should follow the lead of the Co-Op and stop trading with companies profiting from the occupation. This situation is urgent. Israel is continuing to confiscate more land for settlements. Trade with Israeli agricultural companies helps normalise operations in illegal settlements and provides economic aid. It is also time for the UK government to ban all forms of trade and cooperation with Israeli agricultural export companies. The government’s policy of asking retailers to label settlement products is being shown up to be weak and ineffectual.”
 
Ziadah is a poet and a regular on the university circuits where she is known for her outspoken views on the Israeli-/Palestinian conflict. According to the University College Cork website, the twenty-something activist is a Phd. candidate in Political Science at York University in Toronto. She is a founding member of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) promoting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestement and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in Canada, and an organizer of the international Israeli Apartheid Week. She is a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott Initiative (PACBI).
 
Mehadrin is a leading distributor of the Jaffa brand of citrus fruit, and operates subsidiaries and warehouses in the UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and the US. Among the products targeted by pro-Palestine activists, sold by Sainsbury's, are 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.
 
According to the BoycottIsrael website in the UK, the extensive list includes many products from what the group calls "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. Pro-Palestine groups object to labelling such products as Made in Israel, for example, since they do not recognize Israeli sovereignty or control of the disputed areas.
 
Christians have voiced demands in the past that Israel relinquish occupied areas. For example, a delegation of Catholic bishops in 2010 called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and an end to demolition of Palestinian dwellings, among other steps. In addition, national churches of the Anglican Communion have divested themselves of investments in Israel in protest.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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