Philadelphia expands date boycott during Ramadan 2016

Activism
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For a third consecutive year the Philadelphia Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (Philly BDS), a member group of US Campaign to End the Occupation, in collaboration with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and other BDS groups around the country, has held its annual boycott of Israeli dates during the month of Ramadan. And this year Philly BDS has successfully mobilized different businesses across Philadelphia to formally pledge not to serve nor buy Israeli date products that are in direct violation of international law.

The campaign is a response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call to the international community for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel to force Israel to comply with international law in the absence of international diplomatic, political or financial pressure to do so.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims typically break their daylong fasts by eating dates, as they are one of the largest consumer groups of dates in the United States. The USDA valued Israeli imports of dates at $51 million, according to a 2011 World Bank report. They’re grown on farms located in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea area, regions in the West Bank, which are under Israeli occupation. The posh land that historically belonged to Palestinians now houses illegal Israeli settlements with apartheid-like transit and housing infrastructure, in direct violation of international law and has been condemned by the vast majority of the international community. Not only are these farms illegal, but also they employ Palestinian children who are forced to work under harsh conditions with little to no job security. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has said that nearly 7,000 Palestinian children, ages 5-7 years old, worked in settlements in 2008.

American Muslims for Palestine has called for a boycott of Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Tops, King Solomon brands and any dates bearing the logos from distributors Hadiklaim or Mehadrin. Instead of buying dates grown in Israeli settlements, AMP encourages people to “buy American,” and offers links to date farms in the Bard Valley in California.

With 11 states, including NJ, PA, and NY passing anti-BDS measures and the anti-BDS rhetoric by Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton, the date boycott has become increasingly relevant. Particularly given the complicity of the US government in its support for Israeli injustice against Palestinians, Philly BDS is concerned and considers anti-BDS laws a violation of the right to nonviolent resistance against injustice.

In previous years over 1,000 pamphlets describing the date boycott have been distributed across Philadelphia, including over 6 local mosques that have multi-ethnic congregations, including Arab, South Asian, European and African descent. This year interest has piqued and continues to grow, especially given the vitriol the BDS movement has unfairly received. This Ramadan, not only have mosques been approached, but also grocery stores and businesses. Over 30 local Philadelphia businesses were approached to make sure none of them sold or served these illegal Israeli dates.

One storeowner claimed, “We did not know about these dates. I will make sure none of my employees orders these dates again. We’ll only get California dates.”

Businesses were also asked to sign a pledge form, stating these dates will not be bought or sold at their respective stores or businesses in the future. Businesses spanning different sections in Philadelphia complied and signed on. Moreover, businesses operating in South Street, one of Philadelphia’s most well known streets and a hub for fine dining, have also signed the pledge.

According to AMP, more than 20,000 date boycott postcards have been distributed in mosques across the country and a social media campaign that reached over 1.6 million individuals. Furthermore, some mosques and community centers even held informational sessions for their congregations educating them about these dates and BDS in general.

“Israel thinks it can get away with the atrocities and injustices it commits on the people of Palestine, especially children and farmers, but we want to show Israel and the international community that the Ramadan date boycott is growing at a very rapid pace. We also want to encourage others to join. Stores that were reluctant to engage in this boycott in the past, this year have shown to be supportive, indicating a shift in consciousness and/or confidence. We plan on continuing the date boycott until every store and mosque in Philadelphia signs a pledge form. This is not about us, it’s about bringing justice to Palestinians,” explains Kareema Saab of Philly BDS.

Philly BDS will continue to work closely with the US Campaign to End the Occupation and AMP to construct an activist toolkit for American Muslims to launch campaigns in their respective cities in the near future.

For additional information about how to participate in the Date Boycott, visit  http://www.ampalestine.org/or http://www.phillybds.org

About Abbas Naqvi

Abbas Naqvi (twitter: @aanaqvi) was born and raised in New York, and resides in Philadelphia. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the field of molecular biology. He is actively involved with Philly BDS, along with other national and international initiatives.

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10 Responses

  1. Marnie
    July 6, 2016, 12:02 pm

    Kay24 June 25, 2016, 1:53 pm Dates are consumed by more Muslims than other religions because of Ramadan, and it has been known by some BDS groups that Israel exports dates to many nations including the UK, and is the 3rd largest exporter of dates. I am sure many Muslims are unaware of the sources when they purchase their requirements, and should be aware of where the dates come from, since we cannot put it past these zionists to mislabel their products. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/campaign-palestinian-ramadan/#comment-844408

    This year Philadelphia – next year the UK Kay24!

    • Kay24
      July 6, 2016, 7:38 pm

      Isn’t this great work by Philly BDS movement? I hope others will follow suit way before the next Ramadan season, and make Muslims around the world aware of exactly who supplies their dates, and to boycott those of the occupier (flyers at events and even the Mosques). Other date producing nations must also step up their awareness and advertising programs by highlighting their dates are occupation free.
      Thank you Philly BDS.
      People should keep in mind that the occupier is fully capable of mislabelling products made in illegal settlements as “made in Israel”, and even the US has cautioned it. Those devious occupiers!

      “The United States has reiterated that products imported from the occupied Palestinian territories should not be erroneously labeled as made in Israel.

      The guidelines were reissued last week by the US Customs administration in response to repeated Israeli mislabeling of West Bank products.

      State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the decision to reissue the policy had been taken after complaints that some West Bank products had been mislabeled prior to US import.

      “US Customs and Border Protection reissued guidance on their marking requirements,” he told reporters. “It in no way supersedes prior rulings or regulations.

      “And nor does it impose additional requirements with respect to merchandise imported from the West Bank, Gaza Strip or Israel.”

      “Our understanding is that there were allegations of mislabeling, around nine or ten complaints,” Toner said, explaining why US Customs had reissued its guidance.”

      http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2016/01/29/447802/Israel-settlement-goods-labels

      • just
        July 6, 2016, 7:54 pm

        Insist on Occupation- free dates!

        (Iran has delicious dates and pistachios and, and, and… dates were/are grown in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine~ in between the destruction and minefields)

      • echinococcus
        July 6, 2016, 8:04 pm

        Mislabeling is an issue only for governments, and Zionist-friendly governments, at that. It is a non-issue for private citizens as long as the label is “Israel”.
        All goods and contacts with all of the occupiers, no matter where in occupied Palestine, are the legitimate target of boycott.
        The shyness with which many are approaching this, in collaboration with the “liberal” Zionists, is sure turning off a lot of potential boycotters.
        Boycotters are not government offices that must be forced to follow their own retrograde regulations.
        There is more than sufficient documented reason for private persons for boycotting.
        The official intervention re exact labeling is being mixed with the issue of private boycott of anything Zionist, and the refusal of logic in not boycotting all of “Israel”, with settlements, non-settlements, half-settlements, dependences and messuages is horrifying.

        This ridiculous confusion has been damaging the solidarity movement long enough. The case has been made forcefully; the official BDS management should not try to contain the movement by deviating the discussion to post-67 occupation.

  2. Marnie
    July 6, 2016, 12:47 pm

    This is fabulous –

  3. John O
    July 6, 2016, 1:39 pm

    “The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has said that nearly 7,000 Palestinian children, ages 5-7 years old, worked in settlements in 2008.”

    I have learned, mainly from reading MW for a few years now, that Zionism is a 19th-century ideology long past its sell-by date – but this reversion to the abuses of the Industrial Revolution, if true, is beyond disgusting.

  4. just
    July 6, 2016, 2:25 pm

    Thank you Philly BDS and to all that are complying with your call.

    “Stores that were reluctant to engage in this boycott in the past, this year have shown to be supportive, indicating a shift in consciousness and/or confidence.”

    Congrats on spreading awareness and on your persistence!

    • JWalters
      July 9, 2016, 5:14 pm

      Will Philly BDS be having a rally at the Liberty Bell during the Dem convention to liberate America from Israel?

  5. JWalters
    July 6, 2016, 6:13 pm

    But, but, but, … the Torah! But, but, but, … the Holocaust!

    The Nakba? What’s that?

  6. DaBakr
    July 9, 2016, 10:09 pm

    Boycotts never work in bringing any strong government to there ‘knees’. Not in SA apartheid regime and it will not bring change to Israel and will definitely hurt Palestinians more then Israelis. Listen podcast from NPR on extensive non-political study by academic EU professors

    NPR. freakanomicsradio.com : boycotts.

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