Fight Co-op boy­cott for £1

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

GRASS-ROOTS SUP­PORT­ERS of Is­rael have been urged to join the Co-op­er­a­tive Move­ment in or­der to combat boy­cott ini­tia­tives pro­moted by proPales­tinian groups.

Next month, mo­tions call­ing for the Co-op to cease trad­ing with com­pa­nies “which sus­tain and profit from the oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tine by con­fis­ca­tion of land and water re­sources” are due to be voted on by six of the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s seven re­gional boards.

The We Be­lieve ad­vo­cacy group has writ­ten to sup­port­ers ask­ing them to be­come Co-op mem­bers and at­tend the meet­ings to de­fend Is­rael. Any­one can join the Co-op on­line for £1.

The move is partly in re­sponse to the ef­forts of the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign, which has suc­cess­fully en­cour­aged dozens of anti-is­rael ac­tivists to join the Co-op in the past year.

The Co-op is Bri­tain’s largest mu­tual busi­ness, owned by its six mil­lion con­sumers. It is the fifth big­gest food re­tailer in the coun­try.

In his mes­sage to sup­port­ers, We Be­lieve di­rec­tor Luke Ake­hurst wrote: “The group’s demo­cratic struc­tures un­for­tu­nately make it vul­ner­a­ble to sin­gle-is­sue cam­paigns and there are moves afoot by anti-is­rael cam­paign­ers to pass boy­cott mo­tions dur­ing the next few months. If passed, these would af­fect the Co-op’s pol­icy on stock­ing Is­raeli pro­duce.”

Mr Ake­hurst said there had been a “pleas­ing” re­sponse to his ap­peal, with “sev­eral dozen” sup­port­ers al­ready in­di­cat­ing their in­ten­tion to be part of the ini­tia­tive.

While long-term sup­port­ers of Is­rael are thought to be in­volved at high lev­els in three of the Co-op’s regions, We Be­lieve fears suc­cess­ful mo­tions could lead to a dras­tic re­duc­tion in sales of Is­raeli prod­ucts in Co-op stores.

The mo­tion due to be put be­fore the south-west re­gional meet­ing calls on the Co-op to “sus­pend trade with com­pa­nies ac­tively in­volved in Is­rael’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries. These com­pa­nies are com­plicit in the agri­cul­tural coloni­sa­tion of the West Bank which drives the indige­nous Pales­tinian com­mu­ni­ties into poverty”.

The Co-op was the first su­per­mar­ket to stock Fair­trade Pales­tinian olive oil and in 2009 stopped sell­ing goods from Is­raeli West Bank set­tle­ments.

Mem­bers of Leeds’ Jewish com­mu­nity spear­headed a cam­paign to fight off a full Co-op na­tional boy­cott of Is­raeli goods last year.


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