Board of Deputies' Co-op protest bears fruit

By Jonathan Kalmus, August 23, 2012
Jamie Slavin at the Co-op protest in Manchester

Jamie Slavin at the Co-op protest in Manchester

For the first time, pro-Israel protesters have been invited to meet senior officials at the Co-operative Movement to discuss its boycott of select Israeli companies after they held a peaceful demonstration.

Around 15 people who handed out Israeli produce and leaflets to staff at the Co-op’s Manchester headquarters on Tuesday were invited to discuss the issue with the company’s ethics department.

The good-natured demonstration questioned why the Co-op had blacklisted Israeli fruit suppliers working with West Bank settlements, a move passed in May without a Co-op members’ vote and thought to bow to pressure from anti-Zionist protesters who are calling for a total ban of all Israeli goods.

A leaflet produced by the Board of Deputies and the We Believe in Israel group asked why the Co-op had singled out Israel while its group of companies traded with China, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, countries which have extremely poor human rights records.

We Believe’s Luke Akehurst said that the protest had brought “some useful conversations with Co-op staff, and showed the company has taken our presence here seriously.

"This is an ongoing campaign to stop the boycott and we need people, especially Co-op members, to continue to put pressure on the company by engaging with its internal democratic processes.”

Last updated: 10:46am, August 23 2012