18 May 2012

Significant BDS victory

South African government takes concrete step against illegal Israeli settlement products

Writing Rights | 17.05.2012 | NEDERLANDS

Significant victory for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israeli Occupation and Apartheid -Joint statement from South African, Palestinian and US organisations

Open Shuhada Street; Lawyers for Human Rights; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (SA); Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT); Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (Palestine) and Stolen Beauty Ahava Campaign

Significant victory for BDS movement against Israeli apartheid and Occupation

Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies, has published a notice in the Government Gazette (10 May 2012) stating:

I, … intend to issue a Notice in terms of … the Consumer Protection Act…to require traders in South Africa, not to incorrectly label products that originate from Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.” (GG No.35328 Notice 379 of 2012)

The DTI Notice further notes the Open Shuhada Street complaint that “products such as Ahava cosmetic brands, technology and soft drinks are being distributed in South Africa as products that originate in Israel whereas they originate from the OPT.” Products from the Israeli Settlements in the OPT are illegal under international law; however, Israel has tried exporting them in recent years under the false pretense of having been “Made in Israel”.

Significantly, Minister Davies states in the Notice that “the burden of proving where the products originate will lie with the traders”. The onus lies with the traders because “consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the OPT are products of Israel.” This will now render Israeli trade with South Africa far more difficult and is a serious setback for Israeli companies wanting to do business in South Africa. This move by the South African government is in line with its commitment not to recognize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In particular, it addresses the illegal economic exploitation of Palestinian land, water and other resources by 500 000 illegal settlers. Apartheid policies are enforced in the illegal settlements where, for example, Palestinians may only enter with security permits as cheap labour and schools are for Jewish Israeli settlers only.

The global Stolen Beauty Boycott Ahava campaign provided impetus to Open Shuhada Street

Minister Davies’ notice is a significant encouragement to all Palestinian people those in East Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, refugees and those living inside Israel’s 1948 borders. Government’s step in this direction is also a defence of Jewish Israeli dissenters and activists who (along with their Palestinian comrades) face imprisonment if they call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Open Shuhada Street and its allies have been campaigning locally against false labelling by Israeli companies since 2010 as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. In particular, we have been inspired by the global campaign against Ahava led by women such as Nancy Krickorian from the Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign. Due to active BDS campaigning, Ahava has been forced to close down a shop in the UK, has been dropped by a major Canadian retailer, The Bay, and most recently, the Japanese agent of Ahava announced that it has ended all sales of Ahava products.

We demand that Wellness Warehouse, Dischem Group and Truworths immediately remove all Ahava products that originate in the Occuppied Palestinian Territories but are being falsely labelled as a “Product of Israel”. We further call on Pick ’n Pay, Woolworths and any other trader to refrain from carrying Israeli merchandise, such as Soda Stream.

Occupation is a crime! Don't steal from palestine!

We demand that Wellness Warehouse, Dischem Group and Truworths immediately remove all Ahava products that originate in the Occuppied Palestinian Territories but are being falsely labelled as a “Product of Israel”. We further call on Pick ’n Pay, Woolworths and any other trader to refrain from carrying Israeli merchandise, such as Soda Stream.

Open Shuhada Street, the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT-PSF) and Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA) congratulates Minister Davies and his colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry. We welcome his call for public comment and we hope that every person who opposes illegal Israeli settlements, Occupation and racist laws, military prisons and courts will send their supportive submission to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Open Shuhada Street extends thanks to all it allies and its attorneys David Cote and Jacob van Garderen at Lawyers for Human Rights.

Muhammad Khatib, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (Palestine)

“The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee congratulates the South African government for taking an important first step in holding the State of Israel and those profiting from its violations of Palestinian human rights economically accountable. The notice, building on the tradition of boycott, divestment and sanctions that helped end apartheid in South Africa, heightens Palestinian hope about the prospects for Palestinian freedom, justice, self determination and the return of refugees, as required by international law.”

Nancy Krickorian, Stolen Beauty Ahava Campaign

“Congratulations to the Republic of South Africa and to the activists of Open Shuhada Street on mandating the proper labeling of products made in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territories. We are particularly pleased to see Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories mentioned by name in this new consumer protection notice. Ahava’s fraudulent labeling, its pillage of occupied natural resources, and its direct subsidies to two illegal settlements that are co-owners of the enterprise have made the company subject to an international boycott campaign. The company’s labeling has been investigated in the U.K. and the Netherlands, and is named in a legal suit in France. It is only fitting that South Africa, a land that experienced the efficacy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as part of a multifaceted struggle against Apartheid, should be the first country to take such an action against Ahava’s illegal practices.

Now consumers from South Africa will be able to look at the label on products coming from the West Bank and to make an informed choice about whether or not they want to support an ongoing military occupation. Thank you to Dr. Rob Davies, Minister for Industry and Trade, and to Open Shuhada Street for supporting dignity, equality and justice for all people in Israel and Palestine.”

Read government notice here (pdf)

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