Activists in Brighton set up a 'Palestine Solidarity Settlement' in Waitrose supermarket to protest against the demolition of Palestinian homes to clear land for Israeli settlements.
About 15 activists erected a tent in the fruit and veg aisle whilst it was busy with shoppers. They filled baskets with Israeli goods, spoke to shoppers and distributed information about the 23 Palestinian homes in Al Farisiya that had been demolished by the Israeli Army the day before on 19th July. They explained to shoppers that the families from Al Farisiya had been living there for years, and that Israel is making them homeless so they can expand their settlements. By selling goods from Israel Waitrose is helping the settlements to make a profit from the produce they grow on land stolen from Palestinians like the families in Al Farisiya.
A representative of Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity handed a letter to the Manager calling on them to stop selling Israeli goods. He said: "We demand that your company respects the basic human rights of these Palestinian farmers ...by refusing to stock Israeli and Israeli settlement goods until such time as the occupation of Palestine is over and the Palestinians are accorded their full full human and political rights by the Israeli administration as laid out by international custom and law."
The vast majority of shoppers were very supportive, but Waitrose management were furious as they waited over and hour for the police to arrive. In the meantime the the 'solidarity settlement' got comfy, accompanied by some whistle playing, in their tent decorated with messages of support and photos from Palestine.
Those doing their shopping were keen to know what products were Israeli so they could avoid buying them. They were told about tropical fruit, herbs, jaffa oranges, dates, and even potatoes that are imported from Israel. Waitrose also stock Yarden hummous, babaganoush, dips, and cold/frozen meats, plus tivalli vegetarian saugages and burgers.
The full text of the letter that was handed in was as follows:
"I am writing on behalf of the Jordan Valley Solidarity Group to express our outrage at Waitrose continuing to stock large amounts of Israeli and illegal Israeli settlement goods for sale to the public.
"Recently there have been 23 house demolitions,(civilians property), in the village of Al Farisya in The West Bank, Occupied Palestine. These villagers are peasants with nowhere else to run to who have farmed these lands for generations. Their land is being stolen by a space age army in order to enlarge local illegal Israeli settlements whose produce is being sold in supermarkets across Britain.
"We demand that your company respects the basic human rights of these Palestinian farmers and the many more in this perilous situation by refusing to stock Israeli and Israeli settlement goods until such time as the occupation of Palestine is over and the Palestinians are accorded their full full human and political rights by the Israeli administration as laid out by international custom and law.
"Considering how much more ethical waitrose appears to be from most supermarkets, in the case of supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their ancestral lands you are, disappointingly, the worst offender. Many of us are customers here and intend to withdraw our custom until you have cleared this matter up. In the meantime we find it necessary to ensure that the public is fully informed about the blood involved in the making of these products according to the Food Labelling Act of 1996.
Simon Levin on behalf of the Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity"