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Anti-Israel demo pickets M&S

By Chris Bunting
The Independent
10 December 2000

Marks And Spencer has denied close links with the Israeli authorities after Muslim and anti-Israel groups staged demonstrations outside its stores yesterday and called for a boycott of the chain by British consumers.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission, which has 2,300 members in the UK, and Action Alert, a small group of anti-Israel campaigners set up only two months ago, are calling for shoppers to shun the store because of what they believe are its close links with Israel.

A group of 15 protesters gathered outside the flagship Marks and Spencer's store in Oxford Street yesterday, accusing the store of supporting Israeli killings of children in the occupied territories. Peaceful protests were also planned for four other London stores and in Manchester and St Albans.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "Marks and Spencer have made it quite clear that they are supporting Israel, both historically and currently. We believe they are supporting a system that justifies killing children and that this is morally wrong."

He said reports in the Israeli press indicated that the store bought $233m (£166m) of goods from the country annually. "That is significant support and it is really British consumers who are paying for that support," he said.

Jane Lowe, a Marks and Spencer spokeswoman, said: "We are not supporting any country. We do not support Israel. We just support good clothes." She said the company bought half a billion pounds worth of clothes from the Middle East every year; its Israeli trade was only a fraction of that total. "Historically we have had links with Israel but they have been much more on a personal basis. The people that founded us were Jewish," she said.


For Details on the M&S Boycott :