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Mideast conflict hits SA shop shelves

The Mercury, April 04 2002

By Megan Power 

Leading chocolate, softdrink, cellphone and toiletry companies in South Africa have been threatened with a consumer boycott as part of a local campaign against Israel's intensified military assault on Palestine.

And Pick 'n Pay and Spar have been singled out as targets if they ignore a call from Palestinian activists to remove Israeli-imported products from their shelves.

The threats, made by the Palestine Solidarity Group, accompany a list of products from companies it claims either invest in, or support, Israel. The group has also called on the South African government to impose sanctions against Israel, and to ban Israeli goods from coming into the country.

Products the group has identified for boycott include Coca-Cola, Fanta, Nestle's Kit-Kat and Nesquik, Huggies nappies, Kleenex tissues and Nokia products.

'I don't believe in boycotts and threats' The group's blacklist is based on claims that:

Coca-Cola was honoured last year for its continued support of Israel, including its refusal to abide by the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Danone, Nestle and Kimberley Clark are all recipients of the Jubilee Award, the highest tribute awarded by Israel in recognition of organisations that had strengthened its economy.

Nestle also owns half of the Israeli food company, Osem Investments;

Nokia has started to invest heavily in Israel and is looking for Israeli start-ups with which it can co-operate.

"We want consumers to be aware that by buying certain products, they're contributing to the bullets and military armament used against Palestinians," said Palestine Solidarity Group convener, Mercia Andrews, also an executive member of the South African Non-Governmental Organisation Coalition.

Pick 'n Pay, however, says it will not remove Israeli products.

Said its chairman, Raymond Ackerman: "I don't believe in boycotts and threats, and I'm against people who create ugliness in a country where we need peace at all costs. I call on all people in our country to respect that we are South Africans, and not to create divisions between Muslim and Jewish people at this critical time."

Spar could not be reached for comment.