Call for boycott of SA company complicit in Israeli Occupation

By IndepthAfrica
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Jul 26th, 2012
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Karsten Farms sells dates, amongst other produce, under brands such as “Kalahari Medjoul Dates” and have a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim – a company operating, against international law, in the illegal Israeli settlements.

The decision by the two human rights organizations to support the boycott of Karsten Farms only came after first engaging with Karsten Farms, undertaking investigations and consulting relevant stakeholders. (A copy of email correspondence with Karsten Farms can be made available on request).

In fact, Palestinian solidarity organizations have been in communication with Karsten Farms since 2009. Three years ago Karsten Farms spokesperson, Pieter Karsten, said that he was concerned with ‘the plight of the Palestinians’ and that they would reconsider their relationship with Israel’s Hadiklaim. However, the international consumer watchdog organization, Corporate Watch, spoke to Karsten’s in 2010, and found that the SA company was still selling dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim and, although Pieter Karsten reiterated that he would consider “revising the [Israeli] relationship”, there was no sign of any movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3725).

This week Wednesday (18 July 2012), Pieter Karsten again confirmed, on South African radio, his company’s continued collaboration with Israel’s Hadiklaim. Campaigners now feel that Karsten Farms has deliberately been delaying matters in an attempt to ignore calls for Karsten Farms to terminate their Israeli relations.

The decision by the two human rights organizations to support the boycott was communicated via an email circular over the weekend: “Karsten Farms have indeed violated the Palestinian BDS call by having a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim (which also operates in Israel’s illegal settlements). Thus, we support and encourage the boycott of Karsten Farms and call on the company to immediately end its Israeli relations.” In 2005 Palestinians issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and basic human rights (www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro).

Karsten Farms and Israel’s Hadiklaim have a trade agreement whereby Karsten Farms exports South African Kalahari Medjoul dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim cooperative, the cooperative then packages and markets Karsten Farms’ Medjoul dates before it enters European and other markets (through the Israeli cooperative and under Israeli brands such as Jordan River, King Solomon, Kalahari etc.). Thus, campaigners argue that Karsten Farms has a formal agreement with an Israeli company, Hadiklaim, in clear violation of the Palestinian BDS call. Furthermore, beyond just being an Israeli company, the Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim, also directly profiteers and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Palestinian people. (See below Press Statement for detailed information on Hadiklaim).

Mbuyisen Ndlzoi of BDS South Africa has commented: “In light of the above evidence, and given our own country’s history, it is unacceptable that a South African company continues to trade with an Israeli cooperative directly complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and in violation of the Palestinian BDS call.”

SIGNIFICANT BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL VICTORY BY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – RELATED TO KARSTEN FARMS

Providing motivation and a boost to campaigners is the recent decision by the Presbyterian Church in the USA to also boycott Hadiklaim, the Israeli cooperative that SA’s Karsten Farms has a trade agreement with.

The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, comprising of over 2 million members, voted earlier this month (on the 08th of July 2012) to boycott Israel’s Hadiklaim – the same company that SA’s Karsten Farms has chosen to trade with. The vote to boycott the company was taken by an overwhelming majority, 457 to 180.

Another reason that campaigners feel they will be able to apply sufficient pressure on Karsten Farms to end their Israeli relations is because one of the largest consumers of Karsten Farms’s dates is the Muslim community. The Muslim community has just entered the holy month of Ramadhaan in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and traditionally break their fast with a date. Many Muslims identify with the Palestinian cause and this is set to become a major issue.

Campaigners have called on the public to play a role by:

1. Refusing to buy products from Karsten Farms;
2. Informing store-owners of one’s decision and requesting them to communicate this to Karsten Farms;
3. Writing directly to Karsten Farms informing them of one’s decision and insisting that their Israeli relations are immediately terminated
4. Campaign tools and material are also being made available online at www.bdssouthafrica.com

FUTHER DETAILED INFORMATION ON HADIKLAIM

Karsten Farms has a trade agreement, in violation of the Palestinian BDS call, with Israel’s Hadiklaim cooperative. Hadiklaim also directly profiteers and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Palestinian people:

- Hadiklaim (the Israeli company which SA’s Karsten Farms is in partnership with) openly admits to sourcing its dates –against international law– from the illegal Israeli settlements of Almog, Beit Ha’arava (close to the Dead Sea), Mitzpe Shalem, Kalia, Vered Yeriho, Patza’el, Messua, Mehola and Tomer (http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/hadiklaim-in-the-jordan-valley/)

- Hadiklaim’s CEO stated in the Israeli newspaper, YNet News, that the occupied Palestinian Jordan Valley is an “important area” for Hadiklaim. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Jordan Valley is illegal under international law. (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694)

- Hadiklaim’s dates are labeled as Israeli produce, without any indication that some of the dates are grown in the Occupied Palestinian territories. This is against international labeling requirements. (www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/agricultural_export___flash_report_0.pdfwhoprofits.org/sites/default/files/agricultural_export___flash_report_0.pdf)

- In Europe, South Africa’s Karsten Farms’ Kalahari Medjoul dates have been packaged and sold under Israeli brands and in Israeli packaging. This has caused consumer confusion, and allegations of boycott-busting by Karsten Farms and Hadiklaim. BDS campaigners claim that joint ventures like this (between SA’s Karsten Farms and Israel’s Hadiklaim) are deliberately attempting to confound the international boycott against Israel movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694)

- Israel’s Hadiklaim is also complicit in subjecting Palestinian workers to hazardous labor conditions. For example, workers are hoisted into trees with a date picker and are often left to work on a platform high above the ground for the entire duration of the day without meals or toilet breaks. The majority of workers are Palestinian or Thai migrants – who are uniformly paid below the minimum wage. In a recent documentary, one Palestinian worker commented that workers are treated like “monkeys” made to hop from tree to tree. (www.leedspsc.org.uk/?p=1671leedspsc.org.uk/?p=1671)

Issued By BDS South Africa spokesperson, Muhammed Desai: +27 (0) 84 211 9988

Office 915 | 9th Floor | Khotso House | 62 Marshall Street | Johannesburg
PO Box 2318 | Houghton | 2041 | Johannesburg
T: +27 (0) 11 241 7813 | M: 084 211 9988 | F: +27 (0) 86 650 4836
W: www.bdssouthafrica.com | E: administrator@bdssouthafrica.com
www.facebook.com/bdssouthafrica | www.twitter.com/bdssouthafrica

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