A brand of dates is now under investigation after reports that the supplier has relations with Israeli companies. The Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa together with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Polokwane BD, Rustenburg PSF and Wits PSC were alerted by members of the public to the issue of Zamli dates, which have entered the South African market this year.
BDS South Africa said the first concern raised by members of the community is that the boxes do not have details or contact information of the supplier therefore violating local South African consumer rights, laws and labelling legislation. The allegation is that this is also an attempt to conceal certain information from the consumer.
The second concern raised is that the supplier has relations with Israel and in particular with the Israeli settlement company Mehadrin.
After several complaints and requests from members of the community for clarity, BDS South Africa reached out and made contact with the local South African distributors of the Zamli dates currently on the market.
“One of the distributors has indicated that the Zamli dates are being imported from Desert Fruits, a Namibian based company, but that Desert Fruit has in the past had relations with Israel. We are awaiting written confirmation as to whether Desert Fruit have ceased their Israeli relations or not,” said Kwara Kekana from BDS South Africa.
In an email to the local distributors and the supplier Desert Fruit, BDS asked whether the company has any trade or economic relationship with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity.
“We are still awaiting a response to this particular question. Any delay to this increases misinformation and suspicion,” said Kekana.
“The distributors, copying Desert Fruit, have only responded to say that they have visited the farms of Desert Fruit and that Desert Fruit have no Israeli investors. Unfortunately, this does not answer the question as whether Desert Fruit has any “trade or economic relationship with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity”.”
A few years back Karsten Farms, a local South African distributor of dates, was the target of a successful consumer boycott due to its trade relations with an Israeli company, Hadiklaim.
In January 2013, Karsten Farms, one of the largest agricultural companies based in the Northern Cape, provided a written undertaking via their lawyers indicating that they have terminated their relationship with Israel’s Hadiklaim and that they will also not enter into any future relations with any Israeli entity complicit in the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestine. The move by Karsten Farms to end its Israeli relationship with Hadiklaim was celebrated by human rights activists and brought an end to the boycott of Karsten Farms.
Kekana said if Desert Fruit still has trade or economic relationships with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity, particularly Israeli settlement companies, this is in violation of the BDS boycott of Israel and would mean a possible boycott of Zamli dates.
“If Desert Fruit or its local SA distributors can confirm in writing that they do not have any Israeli relations then a boycott of the product would not be necessary,” she added. VOC