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COMPANY : Marks & Spencer


M&S stores  
St. Michaels  


From is birth M&S has been linked inextricably to Zionism. In fact in a book on M&S, Lord Marcus Sieff - long time Chairman of M&S - wrote that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S is to aid the economic development of Israel (Management: The Marks & Spencer Way, Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1990).

M&S supports Israel with approximately $233 million in trade every year (Jerusalem Report, 5 June 2000) .

The JTA reported that "The Israeli ambassador to England recently honored Marks & Spencer for the company's continued support of Israel." (JTA, 13 December 2000).

In 1998 Sir Richard Greenbury Marks & Spencer, received the Jubilee Award by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. This is the highest tribute ever awarded by the "State of Israel" in recognition of those individuals and organizations, that through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the Israeli economy. [3]



Boycott Marks & Spencer: A Brief Chronology of the Marks & Spencer - Israel Relationship

Research conducted by IHRC :


Marks & Spencer (M&S) was founded in 1884 by a Russian Jewish refugee Michael Marks. Since then, the UK-based firm has been linked inextricably to Zionism.

When he became chairman in 1916, Simon Marks made a number of commercial changes. But his greatest brain wave was to take on his boyhood friend Israel Sieff as company director. The Marks-Sieff partnership went beyond business, into Zionist activity. Sieff had supported Zionism since meeting Chaim Weizmann in 1913. Together with Weizmann, Marks and Sieff helped set in motion the train of events that culminated in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The following year Israel Sieff headed a Zionist commission, and then served as Weizmann's secretary at the Versailles Conference. Sieff's wife (and Simon's sister) Rebecca helped found WIZO, the Women's Zionist Organization, in 1920, and ran it for 20 years with Vera Weizmann. And the Daniel Sieff Institute, set up in memory of his son who had died, served as the base when the Weizmann Institute of Science was set up in 1948 (extract from Lawrence Joffe, 'End of a Jewish Saint', Jerusalem Report, 5 June 2000)

Indeed, in a book on M&S, Lord Marcus Sieff - long time Chairman of M&S - wrote that one of the fundamental objectives of M&S is to aid the economic development of Israel (Management: The Marks & Spencer Way, Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1990).


Barry Kosmin of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research thus recalls the firm's once legendary bonds to the Jewish community: "M&S was prominent, even essential, to Anglo-Jewry from the 1960s through to the 1980s ... partly because of its strong historical links with Zionism; and partly for its success in getting Israeli goods to the British marketplace..." (cited in Lawrence Joffe, 'End of a Jewish Saint', Jerusalem Report, 5 June 2000)

These firm bonds to the Zionist regime, based on the fundamental objective of aiding the economic development of Israel (Lord Marcus Sieff), have continued unimpeded into recent times.


Lawrence Joffe writes for the Jerusalem Report, that "Still, M&S continues its 'special relationship' with Israel at the shop floor level. It was M&S which introduced Israeli avocados to Britain. Scientifically bred crustacea from Israel fill the famous M&S prawn with mayonnaise sandwich, the UK's top seller in the late 90s. M&S still relies heavily on Israeli manufacturers - suits from Polgat, underwear from Delta Galil and lingerie from Triumph. Richard Sheldon, head of M&S operations in Israel, says the firm's Israeli purchases amounted to $233 million last year. And M&S is maintaining its Israeli connection: This summer it's due to open up five outlets, selling men's underwear and lingerie, in Golf Kitan stores around Israel, two years after it closed down a cooperative retailing venture with the Hamashbir department store chain." (Jerusalem Report, 5 June 2000)

Thus, as far as trade with Israel is concerned, M&S supports Israel with approximately $233 million in trade every year (Jerusalem Report, 5 June 2000) Indeed, according to one report, M&S sales of Israeli imports last year amounted to £240 million (Jewish Chronicle, 8 December 2000). Other reports have given even higher figures. For instance, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) in New York reports: "The clothier bought about $325 million worth of merchandise from Israel last year. That figure includes products produced in Jordan and exported via Israel." (Richard Allen Greene, 'British store shrugs off boycott threat from Muslims', JTA, 13 December 2000)
The British Israel Chamber of Commerce, another Zionist trade organisation with overlapping membership, has held meetings at the M&S store in Baker Street (Jewish Chronicle 20 October 2000). So much does Israel appreciate the firm's support that it was included among several British businesses honoured in London by the Israeli Ambassador to England for their commercial support of Israel. The JTA reported that "The Israeli ambassador to England recently honored Marks & Spencer for the company's continued support of Israel." (JTA, 13 December 2000. Also see Jewish Chronicle, 24 November)

Additionally, a spokeswoman for M&S stated that "We are a global player and we support many countries, including Israel." She emphasised, moreover, that: "We have a history and a background with Israel that we are very proud of." (JTA, 13 December 2000) Indeed, more recently another M&S spokesperson explicitly confirmed that "We are as close to Israel as we have ever been" (Jewish Chronicle, 22 December 2000). This is highly disconcerting, considering the fact admitted by former M&S Chairman Lord Marcus Sieff, that one of the aims of M&S is to aid the economic development of Israel (Management: The Marks & Spencer Way, Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1990).

In other words, M&S' support of the Zionist regime remains as strong as it ever was. It is thus clear that M&S is, if not the leading, one of the leading commercial supporters of Israel in Britain.




24th May 2001



The press has recently revealed that goods purportedly produced in the State of Israel and exported internationally by the Zionist regime, are actually produced in the Occupied Territories and sold under 'Made in Israel' labels. Products imported from Israel in the West are produced in Israeli settlements within the Occupied Territories, often by the hands of exploited Palestinian labourers. The actions are illegal according to international law and in violation of EU trade agreements.


The Guardian reports (23/04/01): "Jars of Palestinian pickle, for instance, are handed over to the Israelis who stick a 'Made in Israel' label on them and export them to Europe. Flowers grown by Palestinians in Gaza, strawberries, oranges, lemons and aubergines are all sent to Israel, mixed with Israeli produce and exported to Europe with Israeli certificates of origin." In other words, Israel pretends that products from illegal Israeli settlements originate within Israel's internationally-recognised boundaries. The Guardian (30/04/01) notes that "nobody is in any real doubt that the products have come from illegal settlements and that their documentation has been falsified." Although labelled 'Made in Israel', "They are listed as settlement products on rival Israeli websites". Under the 1975 Association Agreement between the EC and Israel, the regime is entitled to preferential trade treatment for agricultural and manufactured goods produced in "the territory of the state of Israel". Produce from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are not covered by trade agreements with Europe and are therefore not entitled to preferential treatment. By obtaining preferential trade (either duty-free or on reduced rates) with Europe through the export of goods produced outside of Israel's internationally-recognised borders (i.e. in occupied Palestine), Israel is violating international law and its trade agreement with the EU.

UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 call on Israel to cease its occupation of Palestinian territories and cede to Palestinian self-determination. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits the establishment of settlements within occupied territory, along with UN Security Council resolution 465. A recent statement from the EU presidency asserted: "Settlements change the physical character and demographic composition of the occupied territories. All settlement activities are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to peace." Yet by permitting settlement products to be imported into Europe under an Israeli guise, the EU actively keeps the settlements in business. The grave implications of the EU's effective financing of the settlements are clear from the fact that the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) elevates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to a "war crime". In Article 8b (viii) of the ICC Statute, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is literally incorporated, which means that individuals who are involved in planning or carrying out policies regarding Israeli settlements can be held liable as "war criminals" under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Not only does the Israeli trade policy therefore constitute a war crime, the international community's importing of Israeli settlement produce amounts to complicity in this war crime.

One British firm has been particularly implicated in supporting Israel in this manner. According to the Jerusalem Report (05/06/00), the British highstreet store Marks and Spencer (M&S) supports the Israeli regime with around $233 million in trade every year. This figure is corroborated by the Jewish Chronicle (08/12/00), which reports that M&S sales of Israeli imports, much of which are illegally produced by Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, amount to an annual average of around £240 million. As Suzanne Goldenberg reports in the Guardian (21/05/01), Israeli settlers "have been raising greenhouse crops for the ultra-Orthodox, and organic produce: cherry tomatoes and cucumbers bound for European markets - including Marks & Spencer." It is no wonder then that last year the Israeli Ambassador in Britain honoured a number of British business, including M&S, for their resolute support of the Israeli apartheid regime in a London ceremony (Jewish Chronicle, 24/11/00). M&S' close trade relationship to Israel constitutes direct economic support for Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territory through its creation, consolidation and expansion of settlements in Palestine. By importing goods produced in the Occupied Territories, M&S demonstrates its support for the regime's illegal and brutal colonisation of Palestine through expanding settlement activity, and thereby its complicity in Israeli war crimes.

It is essential for the international community to investigate, punish and prevent Marks and Spencer's continued sale of illegal Israeli imports which is in violation of international law. Such measures should be taken not only in relation to M&S, but in relation to Europe's trade with Israel in general, especially since a delegation to Israel from the European Commission concluded that "the validity of all preferential certificates issued by Israel, for all products", was in doubt (Guardian, 30/04/01). The recent revelations on Israel's illegal trade practices are only the latest in a long record of contempt for international law and UN resolutions, in which the rights of Palestinians, particularly the right to return to their homeland and the right to self-determination through freedom from Israeli occupation, are violated. Israel has unleashed indiscriminate destruction on the civilians and infrastructure of Palestine, demolishing hundreds of homes, clearing hundreds of acres of farmland, uprooting olive trees, and committing the murder and injury of around 11-12,000 Palestinians.

Israel's export of goods produced in the Occupied Territories is thus a grotesque attempt to profit financially from its illegal occupation. M&S' imports of illegally produced goods from occupied Palestine must therefore be condemned in the strongest terms, and furthermore, prohibited. Continuing international negligence of this issue constitutes tacit consent to Israel's illegal occupation, and indeed, amounts to financing the occupation.

Suggested Action

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) requests campaigners to write to the Foreign Secretary asking him to condemn Israel's illegal trade actions in the strongest terms. Highlight the fact that Israel is attempting to profit financially from its illegal occupation of Palestine, and that continuing to trade with Israel through the import of its goods amounts to financial support of the regime's illegal settlement activity. Demand that the Government take punitive action against Israel in this regard by ceasing all trade with the regime, and by calling on the EU to take similar measures. Note that a failure to do so constitutes tolerance of Israel's illegal settlements and thereby complicity in Israeli war crimes:

Minister for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

King Charles Street

London SW1A 2AH

Please also contact the European Commission with the above concerns, demanding that the EU take appropriate measures against Israel's flouting of the 1975 trade agreement, by cancelling the agreement and ceasing all trade with the regime. Emphasise that to do otherwise amounts to the EU's financial support of the settlements, and thereby complicity in Israeli war crimes:

Geoffrey Martin (Head of Representation)
European Commission
Representation in the United Kingdom
Jean Monnet House
8 Storey's Gate
London SW1P 3AT
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 20 7973 1992
Fax: +44 20 7973 1900, 7973 1910


Mr Romano Prodi
President of the Commission
European Commission
200 rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200
B-1049 Brussels


IHRC also calls on campaigners to take part in the nationwide boycott of M&S, which operates through weekly picketing of major M&S stores around the country as well as other forms of campaigning. For information on the boycott campaign please contact Action Alert on or IHRC on


[3] Friends of Al-Aqsa

[source for Jubilee List - Islamic Human Rights Commision]