Sains­bury’s kosher con­fu­sion

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

SAINS­BURY’S HAS said it will never again re­move kosher prod­ucts from its shelves.

The state­ment came af­ter Jewish cus­tomers had re­sponded fu­ri­ously to food be­ing hid­den by the man­ager of a cen­tral Lon­don branch in ex­pec­ta­tion of a threat from anti-Is­rael ac­tivists.

The com­pany had ini­tially said it would not in­tro­duce a na­tional pol­icy in­struct­ing man­agers how to deal with pro­test­ers.

But, af­ter be­ing ap­proached by the JC, Sains­bury’s shifted its po­si­tion and said it wanted to re­as­sure Jewish cus­tomers.

“This will not hap­pen again,” cor­po­rate af­fairs direc­tor Trevor Dat­sun said. “Man­agers will be told not to move kosher food be­cause of some per­ceived threat. It should not have hap­pened and, ex­plic­itly, it can­not hap­pen again.”

The su­per­mar­ket chain, which has 1 , 2 00 s t o r e s , h a d e a r l i e r apol­o­gised af­ter kosher items were re­moved from a fridge dis­play in Hol­born as a pre­cau­tion against pos­si­ble at­tack last Satur­day. A spokes­woman con­tacted on Mon­day said the man­ager had made an “er­ror of j udg­ment”. Items in­clud­ing kosher dips, meat and fish, re­mained on sale else­where in the store.

The spokeswom­an­sug­gested re­cent vi­o­lent in­ci­dents and de­mon­stra­tions out­side stores had partly led to the man­ager’s con­cern.

Staff from the Board of Deputies held a “buy­cott” out­side Sains­bury’s on Mon­day, en­cour­ag­ing shop­pers to buy more Is­raeli goods. Con­ser­va­tive MPs con­demned Sains­bury’s ac­tions, writ­ing to chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Cope and to David Cameron. En­field South­gate MP David Bur­rowes said: “How was the threat to the kosher food linked to the nearby protest about Is­rael?”

An­drew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, said: “Sains­bury’s should never have given in to thugs and bul­lies… It is a very sad day for Sains­bury’s and for the UK.”

A ma­jor dis­tur­bance by an anti-Is­rael gang at a Tesco store in Birm­ing­ham, also on Satur­day, led to one man be­ing ar­rested. A group shout­ing and bran­dish­ing Pales­tinian flags en­tered the store and at­tacked prod­ucts threat­en­ing staff and cus­tomers be­fore clash­ing with po­lice.

Naveed Zafar, of Naseby Road, Alum Rock, was ar­rested and charged with two counts of as­sault and three of as­sault­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer. He ap­peared in court on Mon­day and was bailed un­til Novem­ber.

A Tesco spokesman said: “The demon­stra­tion took place mainly out­side the store. There was some min­i­mal dam­age to a few goods in­side. Po­lice were on the scene and the store re­opened af­ter just a few min­utes.”

Ear­lier this month, both Tesco and Sains­bury’s said they would not bow to pres­sure from pro­test­ers tar­get­ing Is­raeli prod­ucts. Tesco had re­ported de­mon­stra­tions at around 20 of its stores. Four branches of Sains­bury’s were tem­po­rar­ily closed at the height of the Gaza con­flict as ac­tivists gath­ered out­side.

The Labour Party — whose leader Ed Miliband has re­peat­edly stated his op­po­si­tion to boy­cotts of Is­rael — said it had spo­ken to shadow cabi­net mem­ber Sha­bana Mah­mood, MP for Birm­ing­ham L a d y w o o d , who had been among those demon­strat­ing out­side a Sains­bury’s in the city three weeks ago. A party spokesman said no ac­tion would be taken against the MP.

M s M a h - m o o d h a d been filmed c e l e b r a t i n g t h e s t o r e ’ s t e m p o r a r y clo­sure and urg­ing fur­ther s uch a c t i on but, af­ter the vi­o­lent scenes in Tesco this week, she ap­pealed for protests to re­main peace­ful.

Mike Freer, Con­ser­va­tive MP for Finch­ley and Gold­ers Green, said: “Once again we see the ugly side of Labour and the weak­ness of Miliband. His un­will­ing­ness or in­abil­ity to rein in a front­bench spokes­woman who is en­cour­ag­ing th­ese sort of tar­geted at­tacks speaks vol­umes.”

The Board of Deputies and Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil said trade unions must de­nounce the in­tim­i­da­tion of staff af­ter a num­ber of unions sup­ported protests that had led to their own mem­bers be­ing ha­rassed.

The Trades Union Congress said: “No shop worker should face ha­rass­ment or risk vi­o­lence at their work­place”.

The Union of Shop, Dis­tribu­tive and Al­lied Work­ers (Us­daw) said it un­der­stood that feel­ings were run­ning high over Gaza but added: “Shop­work­ers should be able to go to work free from fear of vi­o­lence, threats and abuse.”


No goods deed: Hol­born’s empty shelves

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