Supermarket Sweep for Nakba Anniversary

By John Goss, ISM London

Around twenty pro-Palestine activists descended on the Sainsburys supermarket at Holborn on Saturday May 15th to protest the on-going sale of produce originating in Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Protestors gathered together goods produced in Israel and its settlements before sitting down in the store, unveiling a banner and addressing shoppers using a megaphone. The activists explained how the sale of these goods serves to support the economies of the settlements, the continued illegal Israeli encroachment into Palestinian land, and the suffering that this dispossession causes. Shoppers were urged to check the origin of the goods they purchase, and to join in the boycott of Israeli and settlement goods.

Protestors sang songs in support of the Palestinian resistance and promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’s illegal actions, before leaving and singing again outside the store. Members of the public reacted very positively to the protest and were keen to learn more about what they were purchasing and the potential impact of their spending. Shoppers expressed the wish that stores’ labelling was more accurate to allow them to make more informed decisions concerning their spending choices.

The protest was timed to coincide with the 62nd anniversary of the Nakba, or ‘Catastrophe’, when in 1948 Israeli forces butchered their way into Palestine killing thousands and forcibly expelling almost a million more, creating a refugee population of around 5 million that lives to this day in overcrowded camps in the West Bank, Jordan and elsewhere, and founding the independent state of Israel.

Israel continues to seize swathes of Palestinian land in the illegally occupied West Bank as more and more settlements are built on stolen land. Many of these settlements rely heavily on the export of fruit, vegetables and herbs to be economically viable, with most of the produce ending up in Europe.  The existence of foreign markets for these goods propagates the on-going injustice and suffering of dispossessed Palestinians.

All UK supermarkets continue to stock settlement goods and, despite recently tightened guidance on labelling from government agencies, many continue to allow unclear and inaccurate labelling of goods.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign has been called for by over 170 Palestinian organisations and demands the boycott of Israeli and settlement goods as a form of global non-violent resistance to Israel’s on-going occupation.