February 9th: ‘Farming Injustice’ – Local Actions Report

Protests took place at least 35 Sainsbury’s supermarkets across the UK, with campaigners leafleting and talking to shoppers leafleted and letters handed in the Sainsbury’s store managers protesting against Sainsbury’s trade with Israeli agricultural export organisations. Towns and cities taking part included Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, York, Halifax, Keighley, Bradford, Sheffield, Birmingham, Cambridge, Bristol, Portsmouth, Salisbury, West Surrey, Southampton, North Devon, Brighton, Cardiff, six London boroughs, and Hull. Photographs were taken in many stores of agricultural produce labelled Produce of Israel. Protestors were met with a varied response by store managers, but reactions to the protest on the streets were, in the main, very positive. It is clear that an increasing proportion of the public are sympathetic to the idea of boycott and that many shoppers already boycott as an individual act of protest against the human rights violations of Israel.

The protest signalled the launch of a long term campaign calling on Sainsbury’s (one of the biggest retail food chains in the UK) to follow the lead of the UK Co-operative company and end trade with any company involved in trade with illegal Israeli settlements. The campaign is supported by the Boycott Israel Network, Corporate Watch, Jordan Valley Solidarity (UK), War on Want, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (England and Wales), which at its AGM two weeks ago unanimously passed a motion supporting the ‘Farming Injustice’ campaign and the launch of the Sainsbury’s campaign on February 9th. It is significant that Sainsbury’s felt obliged to prepare a statement for the press on February 9th, attempting to justify its present policy, but at the same time suggesting that it took the concerns of Corporate Watch(1) seriously. The statement, and a response to it by Boycott Israel Network which will be issued shortly, potentially opens the door for dialogue between campaigning groups and Sainsbury’s management.

Ref: 1. Corporate Watch is currently researching the activities of Israeli agricultural export companies, particularly in the occupied Jordan Valley and has recently written to Sainsbury’s outlining its findings.

Photos taken by a local group leafleting outside Sainsbury’s in Keighley in West Yorkshire

Keighley Sainsburys Protest 1

Keighley Sainsburys Protest 2

Photos taken by a local group leafleting outside Sainsbury’s in Sheffield

Sheffield sainsburys protest 1

Sheffield sainsburys protest 2

Sheffield sainsburys protest 3

Sheffield sainsburys protest 4

 Photos of the protest in Gaza

Gaza farming protest 2

Gaza farming protest 1

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