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Posted on Feb 17, 2013

Jewish Fruit Bad, Islamist Nuts Good – University of York

Jewish Fruit Bad, Islamist Nuts Good – University of York

The Costcutter supermarket at the University of York has initiated a boycott of Israeli goods, following a campaign by a newly formed student group, the Palestinian Solidarity Society (PSS). The first product to be taken off the shelves has been Jaffa oranges, as reported by York student newspaper Nouse.

The boycott is the latest step in a campaign by extremist groups to boycott Jewish and Israeli goods.

But as StandforPeace has discovered, the agenda behind the decision to stop stocking Israeli products has strongly anti-Jewish overtones. Whilst Costcutter is happy to ban Jewish goods, it continues to sell Iranian pistachios – an industry that, unlike businesses in Israel, is closely connected to the government.



The Iranian pistachio industry is dominated by senior regime figures. In 2000, Patrick Clawson from the Washington Institute, reported, “while he was president, [Hashemi] Rafsanjani shut down a magazine that had the temerity to publish a petition from the pistachio growers of the Rafsanjan region complaining about how his family had monopolized the trade to its profit.” Two years later, Michael Rubin, writing in the Wall Street Journal, noted that “former President Hashemi Rafsanjani … controls more than 70% of Iran’s multimillion dollar pistachio trade.” Unsurprisingly, Iranians often refer to Rafsanjani as the “King of Pistachios”.

StandforPeace has contacted Costcutter and the student Palestine Solidarity Society to see if they would also support a boycott of businesses in Israel owned by Palestinian Israelis. We have not yet received a response.

Trade between Israeli and Palestinian businesses is extremely important, and supports families on both sides. Strong trade is also regarded as a prerequisite for peace.  Palestinian businessman Murad Tahboub has said, “Once you come and see it with your own eyes you have a different perspective. We’re not like (what you see on) CNN or Fox News or Al Jazeera. There is a totally different side, a good side, and you just have to come and see it.

“Most of the big businesses in Israel are totally pro-peace and they are very active about this – the same with the Palestinians. Having sustainable economic development with a key emphasis on job creation is crucial, and should be looked upon carefully by all the countries who would like to do something in this region.”
For more information about the University of York, read our profile of extremism at the University

Extremism Profile: University of York

Update: Costcutter’s head office has declared that no such ban is in place. Following the efforts of Stand for Peace, hundreds of human rights activists have complained to the shop franchise and the University of York itself, leading to a quick backtracking. While Costcutter claims that no such ban was in place, we can confirm that the original store manager’s email to anti-Jewish agitators originally said the store would “make sure we are supplied by alternate brands in the future”. Further, it appears the University itself has forced student newspaper Nouse to retract their article on the ban. This allows Costcutter and the University to backtrack without appearing to backtrack. Nevertheless, Stand for Peace can confirm that not only is the ban no longer in place, but that Jewish Israeli goods have been placed back on the shelves.



  1. We wrote York University a complaint:

    Dear York University,

    We are very disturbed by the following news:

    The Costcutter supermarket at the University of York has initiated a boycott of Israeli goods.

    We ask you to stop this discrimination and damage you do to Israeli economy and democratic Israeli society. Arabs are living free in the Jewish State of Israel, and your hateful boycott will only work counter-productive.

  2. ‘The first product to be taken off the shelves has been Jaffa oranges, as reported by York student newspaper Nouse.’

    Let’s hope that all smart phones are banned next.

  3. York has the nasty history of murdering Jews in medieval days. They’ve decided to keep the mindset i see.

  4. I wrote to the CEO of Costcutter, and to various executives of BIbby Line Group who own Costcutter, but have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply. The email said:

    Dear Costcutter CEO and Bibby Line Group Executives

    I am sorry to have to write to you Bibby Line Executives as well but I am shocked by the action of a well known multi-store supermarket, Costcutter, and it seems it is owned by yourselves.

    I am horrified that the Costcutter in Market Square, York, has taken a unilateral decision to remove and boycott Israeli goods and produce.

    I would like to know what other countries have been picked out for the same treatment, or whether you have singled out this one country, and if so on what grounds. I note, for example, that Iranian pistachio nuts continue to be sold, when tensions between Britain and Iran are very high; no such tension exists between Britain and Israel.

    I would urge you to think this through properly; to examine the legality; to remember that Costcutter serves a wider community and should not be acceding to the demands of people with one particular point of view; and finally to bear in mind the reputation of the company.

    Yours faithfully


    PS I incidentally tried several times to send this email to Costcutter using the form at but pressing the SUBMIT button gets me nowhere on any browser I use (unless the message has gone, dozens of times now).

    • A brief update from Barry: The CEO of Costcutter was good enough to reply to me and invited me to discuss the matter over the phone, and I was also contacted by the Chairman of Bibby Line Group. Both intimated that there was no such boycott.

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