In solidarity with Hebron, London shops get a taste of the occupation

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Israeli produce removed from a Tesco supermarket. (Photo: Nancy Kiousi)

On Saturday, February 23rd activists in London staged multiple boycott actions and a protest at the Israeli Embassy in support of the Palestinians in Al-Khalil (Hebron). In solidarity with the people in Hebron and the Open Shuhada Street movement, London shops got a taste of the occupation. Activists imposed symbolic closures on shops that sell Israeli produce, made in the occupied West Bank, upholding the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). By recreating Shuhada street the activists raised awareness for Al-Khalil and urged people of conscience to boycott all Israeli products until it complies with international human rights law.

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Protest at Whole Foods (Photo: Nancy Kiousi)

Israeli products were removed from the shelves, leaving behind a notice to inform shoppers and staff that ‘this product was removed because it was made on stolen land’. At the same time, a checkpoint was set up at the entrances of the shops, and hundreds of leaflets were given to passers by.

Amongst the shops that were targeted was Whole Foods, a brand that boasts of its ethical sourcing, but recently started selling SodaStream products, which are made in one of the fastest growing illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim. Activists asked Whole Foods to remove SodaStream from their shop and encouraged shoppers to express their concern about the store’s ethical standards. Tesco and Argos were also targeted for selling Israeli produce which finances the illegal occupation of Palestine.

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Protest outside the Israeli embassy (Photo: Nancy Kiousi)

Later in the afternoon a protest was held outside the Israeli embassy in London, calling for an end to the occupation, and system of apartheid, as well as the opening of Shuhada Street in Al-Khalil. Protesters set up a replica of the wall that Israel has built in the West Bank in front of the embassy and raised Palestinian flags.

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At the Israeli embassy (Photo: Nancy Kiousi)

Al-Khalil is a city located in the south of the West Bank which has witnessed an extreme escalation of violence and oppression during the last two decades. In 1994 an armed Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque and opened fire on Palestinians during the Friday prayers, killing 29 people and injuring more that 120. Since then the city has seen dramatic increase of aggression by Israeli extremists, including violent attacks, destruction of Palestinian property and forced evictions of families whose property is then taken over by illegal settlers.

Following the massacre at the Mosque, the Israeli military closed the center of the city for allPalestinians, notably closing down Shuhada Street, which used to be the center of the Old City and a lively market. More than 600 Palestinian shops were forced to close by the Israeli military in Shuhada St, which remains a ghost street to this day. Palestinians are now prohibited from using a number of streets in Al-Khalil and a number of military checkpoints are established to control their access to the old city, making ordinary tasks, such as daily shopping, extremely difficult. Palestinian residents must travel extremely long distances on foot in order to use permitted routes and they are routinely delayed, harassed and refused entry at checkpoints.

Every year, in commemoration of the massacre at the mosque, Palestinians hold their big demonstration against the occupation, demanding the opening of Shuhada Street and the end of the Israeli apartheid. This year they held a big demonstration on Friday, 22 February, which was met with violent oppression. The Israeli occupying forces attacked the protesters with huge quantities of tear gas, skunk water, stunt grenades, rubber-coated-bullets and live ammunition, leading to a number of injuries, including one person who was shot in the leg with a live round and had to be admitted to hospital.

About Nancy Kiousi

Nancy Kiousi is an activist with Palestine Place.
Posted in Activism, BDS, Israel/Palestine, Occupation, Reports/Video

{ 6 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. RE: “Amongst the shops that were targeted was Whole Foods, a brand that . . . recently started selling SodaStream products, which are made in one of the fastest growing illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim.” ~ Nancy Kiousi

    SEE: “Why I’m Boycotting SodaStream”, By Rabbi Brant Rosen, Shalom Rav, 1/25/13

    [EXCERPTS] Israel’s settlement juggernaut continues at full speed, creating apartheid conditions on the occupied West Bank while making a mockery of any hope of a two state solution. Since no nation or institution seems willing to hold Israel accountable, it seems to me the least any concerned citizen can do is to refuse to patronize companies that directly profit from this brutal and unjust occupation.
    At the moment, Exhibit A is SodaStream
    – a company that produces home carbonating devices. Promoting its product as eco-friendly, SodaStream is sold in 39 countries in 35,000 stores worldwide, including Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, Sears, and Kmart.
    It is also manufactured in the Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim.
    A bit of history: Mishor Adumim is the industrial park section of Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank. The land for both of these settlements originally belonged to the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, Atur, Issauya, Han El Akhmar, Anata and Nebbi Mussa, but was expropriated by Israel in the 1970s. Today, Ma’aleh and Mishor Adumim are a key part of the Israeli government’s plan to create Jewish facts on the ground around Arab East Jerusalem.

    The SodaStream boycott is a particularly instructive action since the company actively promotes itself as an environmentally concerned enterprise. This is a tactic known as “greenwashing” – a cynical attempt to hide behind liberal environmental values in order to divert attention away from egregious violations of human rights. . .
    . . . And what about the fact that the company says its product is “Made in Israel”, yet is based in the West Bank? . . .
    . . . Jordan Ash, writing in the Twin Cities Daily Planet has also recently addressed this issue:
    . . . At the SodaStream factory, when workers protested that they were being paid less than half of the minimum wage and were forced to work 12 hour days, they were fired. On another occasion, when workers who were fired and were still owed a month’s wages went to the factory to request their pay, SodaStream had them removed from the factory and banned from the entire industrial park. . .

    . . . While I certainly don’t have any illusions that this boycott will bring the Israeli economy to their knees, I do believe it provides us with the means to take a public moral stand against the injustices Israel is committing in the occupied West Bank – and to stand in solidarity with those whose lives are impacted by this oppression.
    It is a particularly timely action since the company has spent $3.8 million on a 30-second spot during next month’s Super Bowl. Apparently the commercial advocates “setting the bubbles free”. Those concerned with human rights should know that freedom for real, living breathing human beings is what is truly at stake here.

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to rabbibrant.com

    • P.S. ALSO SEE: “SodaStream is outside the mainstream”, By Jordan Ash, Daily Planet, 9/11/12

      [EXCERPTS] . . . SodaStream is an Israeli company with its main factory in the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest Israeli Jewish settlement in the West Bank. . .
      . . . SodaStream built its factory in the settlement in order to receive financial incentives from the Israeli government, and like all businesses in the settlements’ industrial parks, SodaStream qualifies for ongoing tax deductions.
      As with the Maquiladoras along the U.S.-Mexican border, the high unemployment rate means that many Palestinians are forced to try to earn a living through jobs in the settlements, despite the low pay and harsh working conditions.
      Palestinian workers in the settlements do not enjoy the full protection of Israeli labor laws. They must get special permits and security clearance just to be able to enter these factories. Involvement in a labor dispute constitutes a security risk and can result in the loss of not only a worker’s current job but their ability to work in settlements in the future. Thus, many Palestinian workers do not demand their legal employment rights due to fear of losing their work permit.
      At the SodaStream factory, when workers protested that they were being paid less than half of the minimum wage and were forced to work 12 hour days, they were fired. On another occasion, when workers who were fired and were still owed a month’s wages went to the factory to request their pay, SodaStream had them removed from the factory and banned from the entire industrial park.
      As with all business in the illegal settlements, SodaStream pays taxes to Israel, not to the Palestinian Authority. The municipal taxes that SodaStream pays are used exclusively to support the growth and development of the settlement through things such as roads, education, and sewage treatment. . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to tcdailyplanet.net

  2. RE: “In 1994 an armed Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, entered the Ibrahimi Mosque and opened fire on Palestinians during the Friday prayers, killing 29 people and injuring more that 120.” ~ Nancy Kiousi

    SEE – “Dear Congress: What the Purim video reveals about the racism embedded in the Israeli state structure”, by Scott McConnell, Mondoweiss, 3/12/10

    [EXCERPTS] If granted one simple wish to raise awareness in the US Congress about where America’s annual Israel subsidy goes, it would be this: before the next pro-Israel vote, members of Congress would sit down and watch YNET’s ninety second video of Israeli settlers holding a Purim Party in East Jerusalem in the neighborhood where Israel is forcibly evicting Arabs who have lived there for generations so Israelis like these can move in.
    It’s not an atrocity, not the casual cruelty of soldiers at a checkpoint, or “at war” against a defenseless civilian populace in Gaza. These are Israelis far from the stresses of combat, Israelis in a festive mode. They are singing a song of praise for Baruch Goldstein, the American born Jewish doctor who shot and killed twenty-nine Palestinian worshipers in Hebron in 1994.
    “Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Goldstein” their song goes, “Everybody loves you.”
    Obviously, the songsters represent a very small slice of Israel opinion: very few Israelis would openly praise the slaughter of unarmed worshipers. And equally obviously, there are extreme racist nationalists in almost every country in the world. There are small groups of neo-Nazis In Germany, and other places.
    But the truth is also this: in no other country which is an “ally” of the United States is the racist far Right more deeply embedded in the state structure, more encouraged and empowered by a freely-elected democratic government. Remember, these are the kinds of Israelis that the Netanyahu government is now, as part of official policy, moving into houses in the most symbolically rich and contested real estate of a city holy to three religions. They are the kinds of Israelis whom the government will then protect with troops and police, and whom prominent mainstream American Jews will subsidize with tax deductible contributions. They are, quite literally, the vanguard of Zionism today. . .

    SOURCE – link to mondoweiss.net

  3. go london! london activists have made amazing progress this year after the takedown of veolia in hackney. link to mondoweiss.net

    hats off to them.

  4. seafoid says:

    Ordinary London people are very decent and they don’t tend to tolerate racism .

  5. BrianEsker says:

    Looks to me like a whole series of criminal charges are in order. Shoplifting, theft, vandalism of a business premises, preventing entry and exit….any arrests?
    Pretty poor way to make your political point.