Around 50 activists from a variety of Palestine solidarity groups de-shelved Israeli products from a London branch of Waitrose yesterday to protest the sale of Israeli settlement produce.
Activists occupied the Barbican branch of the supermarket chain in central London on Tuesday the 30th of March — the Global BDS Day of action. The event was organised in response to the call by the BDS National Committee (BNC) in Palestine.
Having put into trolleys the produce labelled “Israeli” the activists gathered by the checkouts. John Hilary, the director of War on Want gave a speech regarding the nature of settlement goods and the need for the action against Waitrose and other supermarkets. War on Want’s Ruth Tanner sought to speak with management to present a letter of protest to the company.
Despite claims that the police had been called, activists held their ground, distributed leaflets to members of the public, spoke with shop staff and continued to explain to the public what the protest was about.
After around 20 minutes, protestors decided to leave the shop to chants of “Free Free Palestine”, the protest being deemed a success by all.
Although Waitrose had been chosen on this occasion, it is one of a number of supermarket chains, inclusive of Tescos, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons that stock both Israeli produce and produce grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Despite a recent change in official UK government guidelines that settlement produce should not be labelled as “Made in Israel”, recent evidence by Corporate Watch researchers has demonstrated mislabelling practices by Israeli government suppliers, Carmel Agrexco. Produce from illegal Jordan Valley settlements are regularly being labelled as “made in Israel”.
Evidence of such mislabelling demands more than ever that we boycott all Israeli agricultural produce, not just those from settlements. Mislabelling makes it impossible to tell the actual origin. Without the necessary checks throughout the supply chain, existing labelling of produce as “made in Israel” holds limited meaning.
The action is one of numerous that have been happening across the UK and around the world over the past year. The campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid has been rapidly growing.
The Boycott Israeli Network – a coalition of Palestine solidarity groups, has further called for a UK-wide day of action against supermarkets for the 15th May 2010. It is hoped that similar actions will take place up and down the country to vocalise public dissent against the sale of Israeli and Settlement produce and further to show solidarity with the Palestinian call for non-violent resistance.
The action was called by War on Want and activists from War on Want, ISM London, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and numerous others participated.
Undercurrents filmed shoppers occupying Waitrose supermarket in London in protest over the support for illegal settlements in Israel. Much of the produce sold as 'Israel' actually comes from stolen lands in Palestine.
Watch the video:
"Don't tell us what to accept and what not to accept. Don't teach us what is our right, and what is not our right. For my mother’s house, is my mother’s house. It can never become a zionist place. What is wrong is Israel, you have to tell the truth, what is this nonsense about accepting a racist entity that considers us sub-human, whilst they see themselves as super-human. Don't ever be tempted to tell a lady who has jut been raped that it was okay for her to be raped. And my people have been raped, and rape cannot be accepted, the whole of Palestine will be free - from the sea to the river, from the north to the south, and the refugees will return, and I will go back to my mother’s house. If I don't, I assure you my children will, my grandchildren will. One day we shall return!"