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
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.