Fight Co-op boycott for £1
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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