Acitvists from the Palestine solidarity organization, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa) are keeping the pressure on Woolworths with another National Day of Action this Saturday. The lobby groups has earmarked the ‘payday weekend’ of every month for its national pickets, when stores countrywide will be busier.
Woolworths has come under pressure from consumers, trade unions and political parties to end ties with Israel. COSATU, the ANC Youth League, the National Coalition 4 Palestine and other civil society organisations are supporting the campaign
In recent weeks, a growing number of public figures have come out in support of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign including struggle stalwart and Rivonia Trialist Denis Goldberg, freestyle footballer Ashley Mkhize and Thato Molamu (Nicholas Nomvete of the popular soapie “Generations”)
A successful National Day of Action against Woolworths was held last month on the 27th September 2014 with protests, flash mobs, till jams taking place throughout the country. Woolworths has threatened to take peaceful protesters and activists to court. The retailer has thus far refused to meet with concerned consumers and has taken an arrogant approach to members of the public calling on Woolworths to respect human rights. We are thus forced to intensify our actions against Woolworths.
“Woolworths is being called-on to take the lead in ethical retail business, to respond to the call from its consumers, to be on the right side of history, to respect the international boycott of Israel and end its over 12 million rand worth of trade with Israel,” said BDS South Africa in a statement.
A call for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links was made by BDS South Africa and the National Coalition 4 Palestine on the 4th August 2014. However, withdrawing consumer support from Woolworths is just one part of the larger #BoycottWoolworths campaign.
Woolworths sources products and produce from Israeli companies in violation of the international BDS consumer boycott. Amongst other items, Woolworths imports Pretzels, Couscous, Matzos, Coriander, Figs, Litchis, Plums and Mangoes from Israel. According to the human rights organization, Who Profits, almost all of Israel’s agricultural companies have illegal operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
To date Woolworths has refused to make available the Israeli suppliers that it sources its products from.
“Sadly, Woolworths has also refused to meet with BDS South Africa and organizers of the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. However, sources from within Woolworths have indicated that the company is feeling the impact of the campaign both at a PR level and on a financial level,” said BDS South Africa.
“Part of the reason for campaigning and calling on Woolworths to end their Israeli trade relations is because Woolworths tries to sell itself as an “ethical company”. Surely the ethics that Woolworths claims to support include not trading with companies of a country like Israel that routinely abuses human rights? We are calling on Woolworths to respect the Palestinian boycott of Israel, take the lead and end its trade relations with Israel and set an example for other South African retailers.” VOC