A call for food retailers to boycott all Israeli goods has been condemned by the Israeli ambassador and anti-boycott campaigners.
In an article for trade magazine The Grocer this week, prominent food writer Joanna Blythman calls on retailers and importers “actively to look for alternatives to so-called Israeli produce”.
She contends that many items labelled as coming from Israel are in fact “grown on Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory… the fruit and vegetables grown there amount to stolen goods”. She adds: “The only clear and honest wording appropriate is ‘from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank’.”
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, said: “Progress in the Middle East will not be determined by how food industry publications choose to label Israeli produce.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of a wider campaign to boycott Israel, Israeli produce and Israeli people. That campaign to demonise Israel does nothing to address the day-to-day priorities of Palestinians and Israelis, and will not serve to nurture the peace process in the region.”
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council and on the board of the anti-boycott Fair Play Campaign, said: “Promoting sanctions against ‘settlement goods’ encourages those pressing for a full boycott of Israel.
“We have already seen this campaign morph into targeting kosher shops and Jewish businesses. This ill-informed article fuels the politics of demonisation and hatred. It does nothing for peace and, if successful, would harm Palestinian workers working in West Bank farms.”
Joanna Blythman is an enthusiastic advocate of a boycott of Israeli produce.
In January, she wrote on the Guardian’s website: “By refusing to buy Israeli produce, ethically-minded consumers can be part of the wider Boycott Israeli Goods campaign (BIG) and add to the international condemnation of Israel’s tactics in Palestine.”