On Sunday 8th November a group of local activists visited our local Dead Sea produce stall in Churchill square, armed with nothing more than flyers and banners.
Knowing that the young Israeli IDFers who work on the stall use a combination of hard sell and sickly sweet smiles we knew that all we needed was to was provide some honest information - telling their prospective customers the reality of Israel's ban on Palestinians accessing the Dead Sea, how buying Israeli produce helps to fund Israel's brutal war crimes against Palestinians, and that Palestinian civil society has called for an international boycott of all Israeli produce.
Within five minutes all three staff walked off and just left the stall in the care of the shopping centre security guards. The activists managed to stay in the shopping centre for another 20 mintutes before the police arrived. We then moved onto Holland and Barrett to challenge them on the sale of Dead Sea Magik produce.
After a tea break, we decided that another visit to the guys in Churchill Square shopping centre would be interesting. and managed to disrupt their profiteering from apartheid for another half an hour.
This follows good historical precedent in Brighton's Churchill Square, when activists blocked deliveries of South African produce to Tesco in the 1980's.
A bit more information:
The Dead Sea cosmetics sold at the Kedem stall in Churchill square are the fruits of Israeli apartheid and oppression.
The Dead Sea is 68 kilometres long and 11 miles wide, bridging Israel/Palestine's two most fertile regions from the Jordan Valley in the North to the Arava in the South. The Southern part of the Dead Sea was inhabited by Palestinian bedouin up until 1948 when they were forcibly expelled by Jewish armed forces. The Northern part of the Dead Sea was illegally occupied by Israel in 1967 and includes the settlements of Beit Ha'Arava, Kibbutz Kalya and Mitzpe Shalem. These settlements own companies involved in exploiting the Dead Sea to produce cosmetics, like the Kedem
products sold in Churchill square.
There are now no Palestinians living in the Dead sea coastal region, save for a handful of workers on the settlements.
The considerable mineral wealth of the Dead Sea is exploited by companies like Israel chemicals Ltd. This exploitation causes the Dead Sea to shrink at an alarming rate. In the last 50 years, the Dead Sea, the world's saltiest body of water and lowest point on earth, has seen its surface
area shrink by a third and its depth drop by 25 meters. 30% of this shrinkage is a direct result of Israeli chemical companies. Indigenous Palestinians gain none of the benefits of the Dead Sea region. The profits gleaned from the exploitation of the landscape and the mineral wealth goes to fuel Israel's occupation economy and apartheid system.
Why this matters to ethical shoppers and supporters of Palestinian rights:
A coalition of Palestinian civil society have called for all people concerned with freedom and justice to boycott Israel until it ceases it illegal occupation and apartheid policies.
* Israel destroys Palestinian lives, livelihoods and homes daily, refuses to stop building its illegal settlements and apartheid wall on stolen land, continues to control Gaza while slicing the West Bank into Bantustans, denies Palestinian refugees their right to return, grows produce and sets up industrial zones on stolen Palestinian land, and operates an apartheid, racist system on both sides of the ‘green line’.
* Israeli military campaigns regularly flout international law - Israeli invasions killed over a thousand people in Lebanon in 2006 and 1400 Gaza in 2009
* Only international pressure can make Israel cease its violations of international law and human rights. As Governments have failed to hold Israel accountable, it is up to people of conscience in civil society worldwide to heed Palestinian calls for protection and justice.
* Despite the International Court of Justice ruling in 2004 that the Apartheid Wall is illegal, not a single government has acted to impose sanctions, ignoring the ICJ’s call to all states and parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate action.
The campaign for BDS is part of the worldwide movement of civil society in support of the Palestinian people for national, civil and human rights and has several purposes:
* It lets the Palestinian people know that they are not forgotten and the justice of their cause is recognised.
* It sends a signal to Israel that if it continues to flout UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and other international laws, and until it ends its brutal occupation, it will meet with the same response as any other oppressive regime breaching international law.
* It enables decisions made in their everyday lives by people outside Israel and Palestine to refresh and reinforce their opposition to Israeli policy.
* It exerts moral pressure on the British Government by giving expression to the desire to move towards a more ethical foreign policy.
* It provides an excellent way of stimulating public debate, offers a focus for leafleting and discussion, as well as exerting moral and economic ressure on Israel to comply with international legislation and principles of justice.
Apartheid was weakened by a similar international movement of solidarity that succeeded in branding South Africa as a pariah state. Despite obvious differences between these two forms of oppression, this antecedent provides an inspiring model.