Buycott combats Morrisons and Waitrose Israel boycott

Full shop: families at London’s Brent Cross embrace Israeli goods

Full shop: families at London’s Brent Cross embrace Israeli goods

Shoppers across the country have been buying as many Israeli products as possible this week to thwart an anti-Israel boycott of two major supermarket chains.

The “buycott” initiative was drawn up by the Board of Deputies and the Fair Play Campaign Group in response to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s action against Waitrose and Morrisons.

Pro-Israel groups hailed the community’s response, with a number of stores selling out of almost their entire stocks of kosher products, including wine, fruit and herbs.

The PSC had called on supporters to “deluge” the supermarkets with phone calls on Wednesday as well as writing letters and handing out leaflets.

Full stop: Palestine Solidarity didn’t have much luck in Bristol

Full stop: Palestine Solidarity didn’t have much luck in Bristol

On Sunday, buycott campaigners met outside the Waitrose branch in Brent Cross, north west London.

Board vice-president Jerry Lewis, who helped devise the buycott, said the initiative had “captured the imagination” of the community.

He said: “It provided people with a grassroots opportunity to have their voices heard and to show their appreciation for supermarkets which continue to source products from Israel regardless of pressures put on them. The turn-out spoke volumes.” Those advocating boycotts were damaging the livelihood of Palestinians, he said.

A spokesman for the Fair Play Campaign Group said: “We have heard from people all over Britain who made an extra effort to buy Israeli goods this week. In future, we hope that every anti-Israel boycott is answered with a buycott.”

Shoppers commenting on the FPCG website reported a wide variety of Israeli products were available at stores.

One supporter, Adam, wrote: “I always buy as much Israeli produce as I can on every shopping trip. In this way I can undo the work of several boycotters. If we all pull together we can make sure this disgusting and hateful boycott is a complete flop.”

Fabian Hamilton, Labour MP for Leeds North East, was among those condemning the PSC’s boycott action. He said: “This biased and ill-thought-out campaign is based more on political posturing rather than any constructive policy that will improve the situation in Israel and on the West Bank.”

The PSC held protests outside stores in Bristol, Waltham Forest, Liverpool, Brent and Camden. Supporters were expected to gather today outside Morrisons’ head office in Bradford with “bloodstained” children’s clothes and candles. Bradford’s Jewish community invited Jewish students from Leeds to join them in a counter-protest.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said branches had reported “business as usual with no impact on trade”.

Morrisons would not comment directly on the action, but said it sourced products from a “wide range of suppliers around the world” in order to give customers freedom of choice.

The PSC said its members would not “buy goods grown on stolen Palestinian land” and blamed the two supermarkets for failing to “engage in serious discussions”.

Last updated: 5:28pm, November 12 2009