I knew I’d be posting about Israel intermittently. But little did I know it would be in connection with two separate but not unrelated events taking place within the UK rather than the Middle East.
First off, lets address the resignation yesterday of Baroness Jenny Tonge. Apparently, saying that Israel will not last forever “on it’s current performance”. Ed Milliband got it dead wrong when he mis-quoted Tonge. She simply pointed out that Israel could not last forever in it’s current form. She also added that she thought Israel would reap what it sows.
One thing is for sure, Labour will not last forever on it’s current performance. The SNP are questioning the existence of the UK, literally staking an entire, democratically elected political party on the gamble that the UK will not last forever. No outcry about that! It’s likely that Europe will not last forever as it is. We see then, that it is not wrong to point out that nothing is static.
Even Sovereign States are subject to change. Nothing endures but change.
One ex-Reading East MP claims to have always liked Jenny Tonge, but not her “Jew-hater” views. Curious. The current Reading East MP is claiming Baroness Tonge has “extreme views” but he doesn’t tell us what he thinks those extreme views are.
It was heartening whilst following the Twitter stream last night. I noticed many people who did not agree with what Baroness Tonge said, but who fully support her right to say it.
Which brings me to my second but not unrelated issue.
One of the ways I personally protest against the policies of the State of Israel is not to knowingly purchase products from Israel, or from organisations that support Israel. Many times this means that though I use shops that stock Israeli produce I make a point of choosing non-Isreali products where there is a choice, or forgoing produce if there is no alternative.
I’ve shopped with the True Food Co-operative before, though only recently at it’s Emmer Green store.
This is a shop which I’ve idealised in my own mind. This store is meant to provide locally sourced, ethical and organic produce.
The True Food ethical policy states that it is “committed to continuous improvement” and it does this by:
Avoiding suppliers that engage in unlawful practice and that violate human rights
Imagine my surprise when I found out that they stock red peppers sourced all the way from Israel at the True Food Co-operative.
Peppers in particular are a staple in my household and I find that at at least 2 shops not too far from the True Food Co-operative peppers from Spain are in plentiful supply
There can be no doubt that the State of Israel is in breach of multiple international laws, This is so self-obvious that precedent was set in Brighton in 2010 when 5 people who broke into an arms to “prevent Israeli war crimes” were found not guilty by a UK court on that basis. And one does not have to be racist to criticise the State of Israel, as a court in Edinburgh ruled.
There is a meeting planned for 14:00, Sunday 25th March, 2012, at the True Food Shop in Emmer Green to discuss this issue. Having been raised with the Committee as far back as June 2011 it was – according to a recent member’s e-mail – the subject of “much discussion” given that it is such a “complex and emotive subject”.
UPDATE 02/02/2012: The meeting is members only, please don’t try to attend if you are not a member, though if you are so inclined, why not join and support the organisation within a democratic process?
It’s true. The topic of Israel is guaranteed to be uncomfortable. But it’s not really that complex at all. As a Liberal Democrat I’m upbeat that Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine support boycotting Israel, because:
… boycott and sanctions will not prejudice dialogue but encourage it, since they will draw the attention of Israelis to the consequence which their government’s actions have on the Palestinian and Syrian peoples
I always find it ironic that whilst world opinion and an organised boycott movement was building against South African Apartheid, Israel was happy tosecretly sell nuclear weapons to the South African Apartheid regime.
Palestinian civil society has made an explicit call for a boycott of Israel. Now, civil society in South Africa is boycotting Israel. Surely a case of Israel reaping what it sows if ever there was one?
I understand some members of the True Food Co-operative do not want to get involved in international politics. But the fact is, starting, joining and running a Co-op with firm ethical principles is probably the most political thing anybody could ever commit to. It requires vision, commitment, and, most of all, integrity.
The Olympia Food Co-op in the US has already boycotts Israeli produce. Interestingly they have a set “boycott process” and perhaps the True Food Co-op would have benefited from having a structured process to manage boycott discussions.
If the members and management of True Food really are seriously committed to ethical sourcing of the food they sell then they must make their meeting and decision on boycotting open and transparent to members.
Continual stocking of Israeli-sourced produce in the knowledge that other Co-ops are boycotting Israel, and that the UK legal system recognises that Israel is breaking international law, and that Palestinian civil society itself is calling for a boycott of Israel, is likely to make me question the committment that the members and management of True Food have to ethically and locally sourced produce.