A Derry-based Jewish activist at the forefront of a white line picket to discourage local shoppers from buying Israeli spuds at Sainsbury’s says a global divestment and boycott campaign against Jerusalem’s treatment of Palestinians is yielding results.
Becca Bor, a member of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace - Ireland, joined members of the Derry Branch of the cross-partisan Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) outside the supermarket’s Strand Road branch on Saturday.
She said: “We are encouraging shoppers at Sainsbury’s to boycott Israeli products.
“They are selling Israeli potatoes right now and they have Sabra hummus so we are trying to encourage shoppers not to buy Israeli goods.
“IPSC is an all-Ireland Palestine solidarity network but the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is an international campaign that was actually started by people who live in Palestine themselves who called on the international community to boycott Israel in an attempt to break down the apartheid state of Israel and take up support internationally.”
Catherine Hutton, Chair of the Derry IPSC branch said: “We are trying to mobilise people locally to make them aware of how they can make a difference by obviously boycotting Israeli goods by, you know, coming out and showing solidarity with the Palestinian people so we’ve been holding a series of actions like this at Sainsbury’s, we did one at Tesco, and hopefully we’ll be doing one in town in the near future.”
But do shoppers really care where their spuds and oranges come from? Ms Hutton believes they do.
“People do ask questions. It’s really just about raising the profile and trying to educate people when they go in to the shops to look and see what they are buying and make an informed choice and to say, ‘No, they’re not going to be complicit in supporting the Israeli regime.’
“That’s the whole point in us doing this. People will start to think. I didn’t come from a point of knowing everything.
“I started off by looking into things and gradually building up my knowledge and making a choice.”
Ms Bor said the campaign was working.
“There are municipalities as well as universities who have divested from companies that, you know, do trade in Israel and stuff like that so it has been quite successful.”
She also said it’s important Jewish voices advocating on behalf of Palestinians are heard.
“I’m in the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in Ireland, which is a collection of Jews. I myself am Jewish. I’m also against Israeli apartheid and I think it’s important that there’s a large number of Jews internationally who are sick and tired of people saying Israel is in our name as Jews.
“We want to say it is not in our name. We don’t agree with apartheid states. We don’t agree with the oppression of Palestinian people.
“There are definitely people within Israel, there are Jews within Israel, there are refuseniks, refusenik Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli defence force and there is a movement that exists within Israel as well, but there’s also a really large - I mean most Jews in the world don’t live in Israel - and there’s a large movement across the United States and in England in particular in a variety of pro-Palestine solidarity campaigns.”
The Journal asked Sainsbury’s if it wished to comment on the protest and will carry the company’s response if and when received.