Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

It’s All At The BDS-Compliant Co-Op … Unless It’s Truth About Israel You’re After

Earlier this year,  the Co-Op Group Board (which heads the British chain of Co-Op supermarkets and other consumer enterprises) bowed to a decade's worth of pressure from anti-Israel BDSers and decided to cut ties with suppliers of produce known to emanate from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

This decision has impacted deleteriously on four suppliers (Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, AdaFresh and Mehadrin), and costing them about £350,000 of trade.

As some readers may recall, blogger Edgar Davidson, alive to the double standards inherent in the decision, posed a series of pertinent questions to the Co-op over this issue, and  received unsatisafactory repliies.  (See here and here)

Below (via Jonathan Hoffman) is an account of a backlash by Co-Op members in Sussex against the Co-op's BDS stance:

'The Co-operative Sussex Area members’ meeting held at the Brighthelm Centre, Brighton on Thursday 18 October descended into farce when Len Wardle, Chairman of the Board of Co-Operative Group Ltd, fielded questions from local Co-Op members unhappy about the Co-Op’s boycott of four Israeli companies.

The meeting didn't start well for the Co-Op hierarchy, with two questions on the topical subject of trade with Israel inadvertently omitted from the minutes of the previous meeting, held in Hove last year.

When the meeting was opened to the audience to ask questions, the topic of the organisation's trade with Israel was again raised.

One member of the audience questioned the reasons for the trade embargo – the producers in question employ both Palestinian and Israeli workers and the arbitrary trade embargo has damaged employment opportunities for Palestinian workers.

But rather than answering the question, Mr Wardle, from Worthing, chose to read from a prepared statement, referring to the supply chain and the Co-Op's view that trade with these companies was in contravention of international law, which is contradicted by the fact that the UK Government does not ban trade with the companies concerned.

A second question was aimed at the validity of the Co-Op embargo and the organisation’s decision to blindly follow the UN’s criticism of Israel, when that organisation’s Human Rights policies are dominated by countries that lack democracy, that are not free and that routinely violate human rights themselves.

Opting not to answer any further questions on the subject, and clearly agitated by the questions already posed, Mr Wardle tried to draw a line by explaining that the Co-Op's position was clearly defined in a set of questions and answers which would be made available after the meeting.

The questions and answers were duly circulated the following day. They revealed that the Co-Op’s partial boycott of Israeli produce relied heavily on the 2004 verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel’s Security Fence.

That verdict included an assertion that the settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal. However 
(a) it was an advisory opinion only – it was not legally binding (the ICJ is a creature of the United Nations)
(b) the UN General Assembly’s reference to the court condemned Israel in advance
(c) the ICJ judges included appointees of several dictatorships or near-dictatorships, namely China, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Russia, Venezuela, Jordan, and Egypt (c) the court did not hear Israel’s case
(d) the court invented a new rule of law applicable only to Israel, namely that she has no right of self-defence against terrorists (e) the court is a political tribunal and not a proper court of law.
But incredibly – despite the prominence of the ICJ’s Judgment in the Co-Op’s Q+A sheet - at the North London Area meeting of Co-Op members on 20 October, Mr Wardle denied all knowledge of the International Court of Justice, in response to another question about the Co-Op’s Israel policy.

Then when it was pointed out to him that there was no consensus over whether the settlements are illegal – e.g. the United States does not think this so – a visibly agitated Len Wardle argued that the US's view is worthless because the US ‘occupies’ Guantanamo Bay!

(The truth is that the Guantanamo Bay site is leased by the US from Cuba in a commercial arrangement).

Co-Operative member and Brighton resident Daniel Matthews said:
“The Co-Op’s boycott is out-of–step with the opinions of many of its members here in Brighton. A number of us attended the Area Meeting and let the leading figures in the Co-Op know that we are opposed to any boycott of Israeli companies.
 It was obvious from the weak answers to our questions that the boycott is ill-thought-through and founded on ignorance about the complexities of the Middle East conflict”.
If it’s truth about Israel you’re after, shop somewhere else….'

I would add that the Co-Op charges prices that are frankly extortionate.  They are very much steeper indeed than those of the chain's supermarket competitors for identical items those "dividends" paid to customers who are members come at a steep price.

For that reason alone, the Co-Op deserves boycotting!


  1. My wife and I used to shop weekly at the Co-op. Since this disgusting boycott, I have refused to set foor in the place. We also cancelled our Co-op bank accounts. I phoned the Co-op and told them of my disapproval, and spoke to a very unpleasant Israel hating individual who couldn't submit a coherent or consistent argument for the Co-op's stance. They continue to sell produce from Turkish occupied Cyprus (which was perfectly "legal" according to the Co-op).

    By the way, the Co-op acts as banker for Geroge Galloway's Viva Palestina - which has handed cash over to members of the governing Hamas terror movement in Gaza.

    And yes, they are more expensive - I have actually saved monety by switching my shopping elsewhere!

    1. I didn't realise that they had funded Viva Palestina.
      Sometimes I used to shop there, for Israeli peppers and my favourite brand of filter coffee that is not stocked by other stores within walking distance. Often, I'd encounter the local PSC branch, picketing and harassing shoppers.
      I estimate that on average the Co-op's prices are 50 per cent higher than elsewhere.

  2. I thought Co-Op only dealt with 2 of the 4 companies named?

    Did they get any questions on this?
    Families horror as its revealed Co-op funeral firm piled naked bodies up in grim warehouse morgue

    1. As far as I know, four companies.
      That funeral business was gruesome - it received quite a lot of adverse publicity at the time.
      At least paedophile and rumoured necrophile Jimmy Savile (one of Al Beeb's finest!) doesn't appear to have been involved!

  3. The Co-Op boycott is small change.

    Now this is news:
    Europe opens market to Israeli medicines
    Passed in European Parliament by vote of 379-230, pact will contribute to the elimination of technical trade barriers.

    I'm sure Labour MEPs voted against it
    Are Labour MEPs anti-Semitic?
    Labour MEPs have applied double standards to their approach to Israel and the EU. This article illustrates how this is anti-Semitic behaviour