Two South African human rights organizations, BDS South Africa and the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, have thrown their weight behind the consumer boycott of a South African company, Karsten Farms, which is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Karsten Farms sells dates, amongst other produce, under brands such as “Kalahari Medjoul Dates” and have a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim – a company operating, against international law, in the illegal Israeli settlements.
The decision by the two human rights organizations to support the boycott of Karsten Farms only came after first engaging with Karsten Farms, undertaking investigations and consulting relevant stakeholders. (A copy of email correspondence with Karsten Farms can be made available on request).
In fact, Palestinian solidarity organizations have been in communication with Karsten Farms since 2009. Three years ago Karsten Farms spokesperson, Pieter Karsten, said that he was concerned with ‘the plight of the Palestinians’ and that they would reconsider their relationship with Israel’s Hadiklaim. However, the international consumer watchdog organization, Corporate Watch, spoke to Karsten’s in 2010, and found that the SA company was still selling dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim and, although Pieter Karsten reiterated that he would consider “revising the [Israeli] relationship”, there was no sign of any movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=
This week Wednesday (18 July 2012), Pieter Karsten again confirmed, on South African radio, his company’s continued collaboration with Israel’s Hadiklaim. Campaigners now feel that Karsten Farms has deliberately been delaying matters in an attempt to ignore calls for Karsten Farms to terminate their Israeli relations.
The decision by the two human rights organizations to support the boycott was communicated via an email circular over the weekend: “Karsten Farms have indeed violated the Palestinian BDS call by having a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim (which also operates in Israel’s illegal settlements). Thus, we support and encourage the boycott of Karsten Farms and call on the company to immediately end its Israeli relations.” In 2005 Palestinians issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and basic human rights (www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro)
Karsten Farms and Israel’s Hadiklaim have a trade agreement whereby Karsten Farms exports South African Kalahari Medjoul dates to Israel’s Hadiklaim cooperative, the cooperative then packages and markets Karsten Farms’ Medjoul dates before it enters European and other markets (through the Israeli cooperative and under Israeli brands such as Jordan River, King Solomon, Kalahari etc.). Thus, campaigners argue that Karsten Farms has a formal agreement with an Israeli company, Hadiklaim, in clear violation of the Palestinian BDS call. Furthermore, beyond just being an Israeli company, the Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim, also directly profiteers and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Palestinian people. (See below Press Statement for detailed information on Hadiklaim).
Mbuyisen Ndlzoi of BDS South Africa has commented: “In light of the above evidence, and given our own country’s history, it is unacceptable that a South African company continues to trade with an Israeli cooperative directly complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and in violation of the Palestinian BDS call.”
SIGNIFICANT BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL VICTORY BY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – RELATED TO KARSTEN FARMS
Providing motivation and a boost to campaigners is the recent decision by the Presbyterian Church in the USA to also boycott Hadiklaim, the Israeli cooperative that SA’s Karsten Farms has a trade agreement with.
The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, comprising of over 2 million members, voted earlier this month (on the 08th of July 2012) to boycott Israel’s Hadiklaim – the same company that SA’s Karsten Farms has chosen to trade with. The vote to boycott the company was taken by an overwhelming majority, 457 to 180.
Campaigners have called on the public to play a role by
1. Refusing to buy products from Karsten Farms;
2. Informing store-owners of one’s decision and requesting them to communicate this to Karsten Farms;
3. Writing directly to Karsten Farms informing them of one’s decision and insisting that their Israeli relations are immediately terminated