Israel and Palestine

Amazon, Morrisons, Bishop of London, Waitrose
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Letter to Amazon UK sent on 5 February 2013 via a personal Amazon account (slightly edited, but without changing the meaning)
 
Hello,
 
I'm not sure if this is the right way to contact you on this occasion, but it's the only way I can find.
 
I wonder if you are aware that Sodastream, whose products you sell, is a company with a factory on stolen Palestinian land. The company states that it provides work for Palestinians, but it neglects to mention that they are not allowed to live near their work even though the factory is on land which belonged to surrounding Palestinian towns.
 
It is all part of the Israeli government policy of dividing Palestinians into small enclaves, with checkpoints on the roads in and out so that they are virtual prisoners on the bits of land which remain for them. It is a form of apartheid, so just as we opposed apartheid in South Africa and the awful things done to the Jews by the Nazis, we oppose by boycott those who profit from the injustice done to Palestinians by the government of Israel. If you are not aware of the issue or need more information, please go to https://rabbibrant.com/2013/01/25/why-im-boycotting-sodastream/.
 
I would be grateful if you could let me know what you intend to do about this so that I can decide whether or not to continue to buy products from Amazon.
 
Many thanks,
Alan Ray-Jones

Note to Friends: Sodastream products are also sold by Argos, Lakeland, John Lewis, Asda, Tesco and many other firms. Check with Google.

NO REPLY RECEIVED YET

 


Morrisons Corporate Responsibility Team
Hilmore House
Gain Lane
Bradford
BD3 7DL                                                                                                                                                                                                12 June 2013

Dear Sirs,

I write as a regular customer of Morrisons in Tavistock, on a matter of considerable and growing concern to many of us both in Devon and nationally, about which I can find no mention on the corporate responsibility page or elsewhere on your website. I would have preferred to email you, but I can find no way on the website of contacting you on a matter which is possibly to do with several of your products and stores.

My concern is about the food and other products (and services) produced by illegal settlements of Israeli settlers on Palestinian land – the small amount of land which Israel has left for the native Palestinians.  Some UK organisations are asking their members to boycott all such settlement products and services, see www.quaker.org.uk/settlement-produce  - but it is difficult for consumers to identify them without the help of retailers, due to inadequate labelling.  In 2009 the UK government advised retailers that food products from Palestine should be labelled either ‘Produce of the West Bank (Israeli settlement produce)’, or ‘Produce of the West Bank (Palestinian produce)’, but it seems this is rarely done. In addition some West Bank produce is labelled ‘Made in Israel’, which is very misleading.

If you are not aware of this issue the best guide to it is the booklet ‘Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements’, which can be obtained by emailing martin.konecny@crisisaction.org or else downloaded by Googling ‘Trading away Peace’, choosing www.caabu.org and clicking on the illustration.

I finally decided to contact you after buying a packet of your excellent dried pitted dates, which are packed in the UK but which carry no information at all about country of origin. By ringing customer services I found they are from Iran, but the Israeli settlements also produce dates, so if you sell any produce from settlements it seems essential to label the source.

I look forward to receiving your comments on whether or not you sell any such produce, and on the related matters of labelling and the apparent need for a general enquiry form on your website.

Thank you for your help with this.

Yours sincerely,
(Alan Ray-Jones)

Morrisons replied by letter dated 24 July 2013, as below:

Our Ref: 00923531/GR

Dear Mr Ray-Jones

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with regards to sale of products from Israel. Having spoken with my relevant colleagues within the business I am able to offer the following reassurances:

Morrisons does not source any goods from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (including the West Bank). We source produce from the state of Israel and take care to ensure the integrity of origin declarations. We perform random traceability checks to give our customers confidence that food labelled 'Produce of Israel' has not been grown in the West Bank.

We are fully committed to upholding the rights of workers trhoughout our worldwide suply chain and conduct audits of suppliers in the region. Where we are alerted to breaches of our Ethical Trading Code we will take swift and appropriate action.......................

Yours sincerely
(Daniel Armstrong, Customer Service Advisor Tel:0845 6116111)



Two letters in support of Rev'd Lucy Winkett's replica of the Palestinian separation wall and festival - Bethlehem Unwrapped, - at St James' Church, Piccadilly, London at Christmas 2013. She and her team were attacked for erecting it:

The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Bishop of London

The Old Deanery
Dean's Court
EC4V 5AA
 
 
 
Dear Bishop
 
I very much hope you will be able to give your full support to Lucy Winkett’s brave initiative at St James’ Piccadilly, with the replica Wall around Bethlehem.
 
I think many people have found extraordinary the Church’s lack of protest at the increasing destruction of the Holy Land ( as olive hills go under the bulldozer to make Israeli - only settlements and broad roads for settlers) and the even more deafening silence as the Arab poor are dispossessed of land and water and any kind of human dignity.
 
Lucy will suffer for daring to stand up and be counted. I hope you will read a small section of her emails to understand the hate and vilification she is up against. Such courage is rare among public figures.
 
While those who continue to support the policies of the Israeli government, shout ‘‘terrorism’’ in defence of its every illegal act and human rights violation, the facts are as stated in the Church Times. 85 per cent of the Wall’s route is inside the West Bank and it was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Its impact on ordinary families, and their access to health, education,  their farmland and the economy is incalculable.
 
It is absurd to claim that this kind of savage treatment by an occupier can ever result in greater security for Israel.
 
May I leave you with one final fact? 129 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,519 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since 29 September, 2000
 
Time to speak clearly?
 
Yours sincerely,

Penelope Putz



The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Bishop of London

The Old Deanery
Dean's Court

EC4V 5AA


Dear Bishop,

I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Quakers are not anti-Jewish and have many Jewish friends, but the Society made a corporate decision in 2011 after careful reflection to boycott the produce of unjust Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.  In America, young Jews in Jewish Voice for Peace are taking a strong line against settlements, as are many other religious and secular groups in Britain and worldwide. Quakers are now attempting dialogue on the issue with Jews throughout Britain.

I think that most Quakers, like me, would hope you give your full support to Lucy Winkett’s brave initiative at St James’ Piccadilly, with the replica Wall. She has of course been attacked by supporters of Israel for bringing this issue into the open in such a bold and graphic way.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but I feel that the Church of England has not had much to say in public about the disaster that has been taking place in Palestine since 1898, in particular the way that Arabs whose land it once was have been penned into their villages by check-points, deprived of income and gradually squeezed into submission – and are now increasingly being deprived of water as well.

At least the Wall has raised public awareness of this issue, and resulted in an article in the Church Times amongst others – will you be spreading knowledge and understanding of the situation? While accepting the 1967 boundary as the necessary starting point for peace negotiations, it must never be forgotten that the Palestinian population has been and still is the innocent victim of big power politics, and has not been treated with any justice. The western churches’ responsibility for centuries of anti-semitism must not force them to stay silent while this continues.

While supporters of the occupation shout ‘‘terrorism’’ in defence of every human rights violation, the facts are as stated in the Church Times. 85 per cent of the Wall’s route is inside the West Bank, and it was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Its impact on ordinary Palestinian families, and their access to health, education,  their farmland and the economy is incalculable. Oppression will not bring peace.

The aim seems to be to make Palestinian living conditions intolerable while avoiding fighting and casualties which could raise international alarm and thereby hold up the continuation and completion of the settlement programme.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Ray-Jones

* It has been pointed out to me since the letter was sent that the last paragraph is badly worded. There has of course been fighting and casualties, though not an unprovoked massacre of civilians on the West Bank

The Bishop thanked through his PA for the letter, 'in support of Lucy Winkett and the team at St James’s, Piccadilly .......'.

 


To Waitrose using the Help & Support - Contact - Product Complaint facility on their website

Hello,
War on Want write (today 20.2.14 by email) that you are still stocking goods from illegal Israeli settlements in  occupied Palestininan territory:  "These include three types of halva from the company Achva, all of which are clearly labelled as produced in the Barkan settlement in the West Bank". Is this correct, and if you do so knowingly are you aware of the misery that the occupation inflicts on the Palestinians?
Please could you let me know?

Alan Ray-Jones