With the news that Woolworths has launched court proceedings against BDS South Africa over its boycott campaign against the local retailer, both BDS and the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) have insisted that all its protests have been carried out in a non-violent manner.
This comes after court papers issued to the pro-Palestinian organization, accused BDS and the NC4P of intimidating customers and employees, and causing damage to goods. Both have categorically denied the allegations, further suggesting that Woolworths were using the very same propaganda methods as the state of Israel.
BDS has launched an intensive campaign against the prominent retailer in recent months, over its refusal to end its stocking of Israeli products. Since the launch of the boycott, the organization has held several protests outside Woolworth’s stores across the country. Reports suggest the company has seen a slight decline in profits, supposedly as a result of the campaign.
In a statement issued by the NC4P, spokesperson Rev. Edwin Arrison said the court action was a mere “sign of desperation” on the part of the retailer, further highlighting the growing success of the Boycott Woolworths campaign. The move also comes a month shy of the busy festive season period, with the boycott posing a deterrent to Woolworth’s business operations.
“Firstly, by Woolworth’s own admission the #BoycottWoolworths campaign is having an impact. Secondly, Woolworths claims, amongst other things, that they are concerned about a drop in business for the upcoming festive season – this it would seem is the intention of their court application,” read the statement.
Arrison further stated that they viewed the action as unnecessary, with an easier resolve being Woolworth’s agreement to terminate all trade links with the Apartheid state of Israel.
The proposed interdict against BDS has been viewed as a clear indication that Woolworths would seek to defend its trade ties with Israeli based companies, particularly those that provide the retailer with fresh produce.
“Woolworths currently imports R12 Million of mostly agricultural products from Israel. These products could easily be sourced locally, or from countries other than Israel,” the statement noted.
Woolworths continues to maintain its stance that it bears no political affiliations in the Palestine/Israel conflict. They have also acknowledged in a previous press release, that the boycott has had “a profound effect” on many of its customers.
“We do agree with this, the #BoycottWoolworths campaign has had the profound impact of educating people about Israel’s Apartheid policies, making people aware of Woolworth’s trade links with Apartheid Israel and its arrogant refusal to give up those trade links in the face of growing consumer calls,” the statement added.
In their own statement on the issue, Woolworths said that whilst respecting the right of BDS to protest, the safety of its shoppers and staff were of first priority. They also accused BDS of restricting customers from accessing the stores.
“The recent statements by BDS to ramp up their protest action has given us no choice but to take legal steps. It is our responsibility to ensure that our customers and employees feel safe in our stores, free of disruption, abuse and intimidation.” it read. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)