It seems as if the momentum in the national boycott targeting Woolworths is growing as more consumers latch on to the campaign. The boycott was announced last week in light of an intensified consumer campaign against certain companies stocking Israeli products in response to the Zionist government’s recent military assault on Gaza.
According to Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement South Africa (BDS SA) spokesperson Kwara Kekana, the boycott campaign against Woolworths has been gaining much traction and the movement have hailed the communities response towards the campaign.
Woolworths came under fire after its refusal to remove Israeli products from its shelves, instead opting to issue a statement pointing out the rights of consumers to “exercise freedom of choice with regards to the products that they purchase”. This has led to numerous protests outside Woolworths stores across the country.
Kekana said that although the initial aim of BDS SA had been to isolate Israeli products specifically, intense consumer pressure led them to call for a complete boycott of the Woolworths brand.
“This is a people led, mass based campaign led by people on the ground,” she said.
On social media, commentators on the issue have noticed less shoppers at Woolworths during the recent sale. Whether this amounts to a drop in sales figures is uncertain.
In response to the BDS campaign, some Israeli supporters have actively sought to promote the sale of Israeli products outside the respective Woolworths stores. Despite the counter efforts, Kekana said it proved the strength of the BDS’s boycott.
“The fact that they need to go to such lengths to sell the Israeli products, and they need to go to such lengths to assist Woolworths in getting these products off their shelves, it means we as consumers are doing something correct,” she said.
She described Woolworths reaction to the threat of boycott as being arrogant, which is why they were encouraging people to intensify their efforts, until such time the retailer cut its trade ties with Israeli companies.
The social media response to the current Israeli offensive has been much “louder”, than previous military conflicts in 2009, and 2012. Kekana attributed this to a change in narrative, with the public starting to recognise and understand what was actually taking place in Gaza. She said people were taking it upon themselves to question whether Israel’s actions were morally correct.
“Israel is really doing the job for us by putting itself on the map as a terrorist state, and a top occupier. The worst of all is the killing of children and women, and I think the world has a moral responsibility to stand up and come together where this issue is concerned,” she said.
She encouraged consumers to intensify their efforts against Woolworths, including taking part in non-violent protests such as flash-mobs, cutting up of cards, as well as engaging with the staff of Woolworths. She also urged the community to be “conscious consumers”, when dealing with companies they suspected may be stocking Israeli products. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)