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:
"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "