Published On: Mon, Sep 8th, 2014

Palestinian BDS Targeting Woolworths

Woolworths palestinian BDS

As if the classic but fading retailer didn’t have its old-fashioned image to contend with, it is now targeted by BDS over the labeling of its products. The Boycott Sanctions and Divestment Group BDS, a Palestinian activist organization, is not just calling for a boycott of individual products, but that potential customers should not enter Woolworths’ doors.

While the group initially said  its main complaint was with products it sells that are from the “occupied” Palestinian territories in the West Bank, it then broadened the scope of the condemnation to say that Woolworths is ripe for pariah status for having a trade relationship with Israel at all.

“The call for boycott of Woolworths is a complete boycott. The issue is not with the Israeli tomato or avocado in the store, it is with Woolworths as a company having a trade relationship with Israel.” There you’ve got it. Straight from BDS’ mouth. Although they have hit at the retailer for “faulty” labels of products from the West Bank as “Israeli, ” what they really mean is they don’t like trade with Israel at all.

BDS said Woolworths is a target because it does not divulge its Israeli suppliers and its management declined to meet with BDS. Zodwq Ntuli, deputy director general for corporate consumer protection at the Department for Trade and Industry, says she has been “inundated with calls from people asking questions about the labeling of products.”

In 2012, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies issued an order removing “Made in Israel” labels from good produced in the West Bank. Woolworths management said it did not purchase products from the “occupied” territories, and issued a statement that while it is “deeply saddened” over the conflict in Gaza, it insists that “we clearly label every products country of origin.”

The Consumer Goods Council complains that the recent conflict has led to aggressive tactics to have products removed from the shelves, and this contradicts “free and fair trade, ” while consumer groups insists that fair labeling regulations have been infringed upon.

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