BDS tar­gets Galilee olive-oil busi­ness in Face­book cam­paign

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By TA­MARA ZIEVE

A small olive-oil busi­ness based in north­ern Is­rael has be­come one of the lat­est tar­gets of anti-Is­rael ac­tivists and has spent the past week bat­tling ef­forts to dis­credit its pro­duce.

The cam­paign against the Yavne’el-based Galilee Green be­gan on Novem­ber 2, the cen­te­nary of the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion that paved the way for the es­tab­lish­ment of the State of Is­rael.

The tim­ing of the launch of the cam­paign by sup­port­ers of the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions move­ment was no co­in­ci­dence – sev­eral on­line posts men­tioned the mile­stone as a launch­pad for their ef­forts to de­mo­nize the busi­ness.

Dozens of Face­book users have bom­barded the Galilee Green Face­book page urg­ing peo­ple not to buy their prod­ucts, based on their claims that the prod­ucts come from “stolen land” and “stolen olives” as well as far more vir­u­lent ac­cu­sa­tions.

“Iron­i­cally, we work with Kib­butz De­ganya Alef,” Galilee Green pres­i­dent and CEO Rabbi Sh­muel Vef­fer told The Jerusalem Post on Thurs­day. “The land the trees are on was pur­chased from the Ot­toman Turks be­fore WWI and the Bal­four Dec­la­ra­tion. Our of­fices are in Yavne’el on land pur­chased by Baron Roth­schild from the Turks and Yavne’el was founded in 1901. The land here and at De­ganya was rocky and bar­ren of trees.”

Vef­fer and his wife, Chana, founded the com­pany to­gether with Nili and Arnie Abra­hams, all of whom are im­mi­grants from Toronto, Canada.

The first bom­bard­ment of mes­sages, many in the form of one-star re­views, suc­ceeded in bring­ing Galilee Green’s 5-star rat­ing down to 3-stars.

But loyal cus­tomers promptly fought back with post­ing glow­ing 5-star re­views on the page, bring­ing the rat­ing back up to 4-stars as of Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Galilee Green and its sup­port­ers have been re­port­ing cer­tain posts to Face­book, based on the so­cial me­dia gi­ant’s rules against ha­rass­ment, hate speech and threats. Face­book has re­moved some of the posts and re­sponded to Galilee Green with a form let­ter out­lin­ing pro­ce­dures of block­ing peo­ple from the page and ad­just­ing pri­vacy set­tings. But the amount Face­book has re­moved is only a small por­tion of those posted, and thus the most ef­fec­tive coun­ter­mea­sure has been the groundswell of pos­i­tive re­views is­sued in re­sponse to the BDS cam­paign.

“My grand­fa­ther’s flower shop in Hol­land had a Jewish star and Jude painted on his win­dow in an at­tempt by the an­ti­semites to shut down his busi­ness,” Vef­fer re­marked. “In the end, they sur­vived by hid­ing for three years. After the Nazis were de­feated, they came out of hid­ing with their six chil­dren and re­opened the flower shop. Now it’s my turn to have the haters try­ing to de­stroy my busi­ness, sim­ply be­cause I’m Jewish.”

Vef­fer said he has re­ceived sup­port from across the globe, in­clud­ing from Rena Nick­er­son, gen­eral man­ager of So­daStream Canada – a com­pany that was fa­mously tar­geted by BDS over its prin­ci­pal man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity, which used to be lo­cated in Mishor Adu­mim in the West Bank.

“This olive oil com­pany, Galilee Green, ex­em­pli­fies grace un­der pres­sure,” Nick­er­son wrote in a Face­book post. “Please help them in their fight against an­ti­semitism as they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a new wave of at­tacks now. You can help by re­port­ing re­views you find to be hate­ful and un­truth­ful to FB.”

(Cour­tesy Galilee Green)

CHANA VEF­FER (left) and Nili Abra­hams, who along with their hus­bands founded Galilee Green, su­per­vise pro­duc­tion in Yavne’el in this un­dated pic­ture.

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