Ban on in­vest­ing in Co-op over boy­cott stance

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

A SE­RIES of Amer­i­can states have barred com­pa­nies from in­vest­ing in Bri­tain’s Co-op­er­a­tive Group over its boy­cott of Is­raeli firms which source pro­duce from West Bank set­tle­ments.

Florida, Illi­nois, New York and Ari­zona have im­ple­mented the pro­scrip­tions against the Co-op, which has suf­fered a se­ries of con­tro­ver­sies since adopt­ing its pol­icy five years ago.

Co-op su­per­mar­kets in Bri­tain have re­fused to stock prod­ucts from Is­raeli West Bank set­tle­ments since 2009, and the pol­icy was ex­tended in 2012 to in­clude bar­ring any en­gage­ment with Is­raeli sup­pli­ers known to work with the set­tle­ments.

Ari­zona in­cluded the Co-op on a “pro­hib­ited in­vest­ment list” in March, along­side a se­ries of fi­nan­cial firms and banks.

New York State’s of­fice of gen­eral ser­vices listed it as one of more than a dozen “in­sti­tu­tions or com­pa­nies de­ter­mined to par­tic­i­pate in boy­cott, di­vest­ment or sanc­tions ac­tiv­ity tar­get­ing Is­rael” in May, as did Illi­nois’ in­vest­ment pol­icy board.

The State Board of Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Florida said it had scru­ti­nised the Co-op af­ter be­ing di­rected to cre­ate a “list of com­pa­nies that par­tic­i­pate in a boy­cott of Is­rael, in­clud­ing ac­tions that limit com­mer­cial re­la­tions with Is­rael or Is­raeli con­trolled ter­ri­to­ries”.

Luke Ake­hurst, di­rec­tor of the We Be­lieve in Is­rael grass­roots group which cam­paigns against boy­cotts, said: “The Co-op Group’s boy­cott of cer­tain Is­raeli sup­pli­ers has done noth­ing to ad­vance peace and co­ex­is­tence or to help the Pales­tini­ans.

“All it has achieved is to alien­ate Jewish and other pro-Is­rael cus­tomers from the Co-op and now to get them added to a list of BDS-sup­port­ing com­pa­nies that sev­eral US states can’t in­vest in.”

Ex­plain­ing its pol­icy on its web­site, the Co-op said that “ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances” meant it had with­drawn trade from “the Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries.

“On this ba­sis, we do not source any pro­duce or own-brand prod­ucts from the Is­raeli set­tle­ments. We can cat­e­gor­i­cally state that this po­si­tion does not con­sti­tute a boy­cott of Is­raeli busi­nesses.”

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