Take Action: Write to supermarkets asking them to stop stocking Israeli products
Boycotting Israeli products is one important way individuals can express their support for Palestine and opposition to Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians. What is even stronger is when people act collectively, and we all demand the removal of Israeli products – revenues from which help fund the decades long brutal occupation of Palestine – from the shelves of stores in Ireland.
As we approach the 40th anniversary of the anti-apartheid strike at Dunnes Stores, an action that resounded all the way to Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island in Apartheid South Africa; we believe that almost forty years on, it remains immoral to stock products that help to fund apartheid. Therefore, we ask you to ask retailers to please stand on the right side of history, to stand against apartheid, and to cease stocking Israeli goods until Israel ends it occupation of Palestinian lands, stops committing war crimes, grants equal rights to all its citizens and complies fully with its obligations under international law
Below you will find a sample letter which we would ask you to send to both your local supermarkets when you see Israeli goods, and to the head offices of the main Irish supermarkets (though it’s always better to write your own individual letter). And don’t be afraid to follow up with them.
Here are emails for these supermarkets – Note: Replace [at] with @ – this is an anti-spam measure.
Dunnes Stores – switch [at] dunnes-stores.ie
Tesco – customer.services [at] tesco.ie
Marks & Spencer – customer [at] service.marksandspencer.ie
Aldi – customer.service [at] aldi.ie
Lidl – customer.services [at] lidl.ie
Supervalu – group [at] musgrave.ie
Centra – centra [at] musgravegroup.com
Spar / Eurospar – info [at] eurospar.ie
I am writing to you concerning the presence of Israeli products in your outlet(s). As a regular shopper in your store, I would like to ask you to remove these Israeli products, as they come from a country which continues a brutal military occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories and, in the words of Human Rights Watch, is committing the dual crimes against humanity of Apartheid and Persecution of the Palestinian People. Revenues from these products help fund regular human rights abuses, violations of international law, war crimes and a vicious system of racist apartheid laws that aim to keep Palestinians subjugated.
At present, Israel is yet again engaged in a widespread and devastating offensive on the people of Palestine.
At the time of writing, more than 200 people have been killed in Israel’s ongoing assault on the people of Gaza. They include more than 60 children and 30 women, meaning that women and children make up nearly half of all the dead.
Hundreds more have been wounded, already overflowing hospitals have been bombed, media offices and educational facilities have been attacked, and hundreds of homes have been destroyed – all war crimes in violation of international law. Tens of thousands of people are homeless, now jammed together for shelter in 50 UN schools, during a pandemic in an area already ravaged by Covid19! Israel even bombed the one Covid-testing laboratory in Gaza!
In the West Bank, Israeli occupation forces are attacking Palestinian demonstrators with live fire, so-called rubber bullets, and tear gas, so far killing twenty and injuring hundreds. In Jerusalem and inside the Apartheid State of Israel itself, mobs of rightwing Israeli are given almost free reign to rampage in Palestinian areas chanting “Death to Arabs”, all under the protection of the Israeli police.
Such brutality is nothing new – for example, in April and May 2018, Israeli occupation forces shot dead over 100 unarmed protesters in Gaza. In 2014 Palestinians endured the third massive attack by Israeli occupation forces in six years. According to the UN and Amnesty this attack left over 2,200 Palestinian people dead, around 70% of them civilians including over 500 children. Thousands more were maimed or injured and civilian infrastructure including hospitals and homes were attacked and destroyed, leaving over 100,000 people still displaced and homeless. Amnesty says Israel committed “war crimes”, despite a ceasefire agreement Israel continues to attack the area frequently. The Palestinian people have long-suffered as a result of Israel’s apartheid policies.
Israel has militarily occupied the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights since 1967. In that time it has committed numerous serious crimes against the Palestinian people, including the ongoing building of illegal settlements which is a “flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” according to UN Security Council Resolution 465. Since 2006, Israel has imposed an illegal and inhuman siege on the Gaza strip, where two million Palestinians live.
The callousness of the Israeli state is such that Dov Weissglas, a senior advisor to the Israeli prime minister in 2006 joked about the siege: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.” To this end, according to the Guardian, “the Israeli military made precise calculations of Gaza’s daily calorie needs” so it could keep people hungry but not malnourished.
Some 10,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians and including over 2,200 children, have been killed since September 2000 by Israeli forces. Israel has destroyed thousands of Palestinian homes and crucial civilian infrastructure, including power plants, roads, bridges, sewage and telephone networks. Restrictions imposed on the movements of Palestinians and Palestinian goods have made normal life impossible.
Human Rights Watch is not the only human rights organisation to state that Israel is committing the crime of Apartheid. B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights group, describes the situation as being “an apartheid regime … which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians”. Two former United Nations Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights in Palestine, John Dugard and Richard Falk agree, referencing the Israeli occupation’s “forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law” and its “apartheid features” respectively. In 2012, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described Israel’s violations of the right to equality in unprecedented terms. Noting “segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities” and a lack of “equal access to land and property” inside Israel’s pre-67 borders, CERD found a regime of “de facto segregation” in the West Bank severe enough to prompt a reminder of the “prohibition” of “apartheid”.
In 2009 the Irish Congress of Trade Unions passed a motion stating that “Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people can be likened to the oppression of the black majority in South Africa under Apartheid. The parallel with Apartheid has been noted by Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, ex- President Jimmy Carter … and many others of high standing in the world”. ICTU also recognised the role Irish workers and unions played in promoting the boycott of South African goods when it was under apartheid rule. As a result, they voted unanimously to support a full boycott of Israeli goods, joining in the growing international call for a boycott.
An international call for a boycott of Israeli goods was issued by over 200 by Palestinian civil society, trade union and church organisations in 2005. Boycotting Israeli goods offers non-violent tactic towards helping achieve an end to Israeli apartheid, as with South African apartheid before it. It is both a moral and effective means to help achieve a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For your part, by continuing to stock Israeli goods, your stores are sadly helping to fund this ongoing tragedy. There is a clear moral and material case to cease stocking goods from Israel – they help fund the oppression and murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands.
2024 will mark the 40th anniversary of the anti-apartheid strike at Dunnes Stores, an action that resounded all the way to Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island. It is worth noting that many of those involved in that strike, including Mary Manning, Karen Gearon, Liz Deasy, the late Brendan Archbold and the leadership of Mandate (then IDATU) trade union have voiced support for boycott of Israeli goods; Therefore, I think that more than thirty years on, it remains immoral to stock products that help to fund apartheid. Therefore, I am asking you to please stand on the right side of history, to stand against apartheid, and to cease stocking Israeli goods until Israel ends it occupation of Palestinian lands, grants equal rights to all its citizens and complies fully with its obligations under international law.