Trade Body Calls For Boycotting Israeli Products
IslamOnline & News Agencies
1 July 2002
Some supermarkets in Norway are identifying goods from Israel
by sticking yellow labels on them, to give consumers the option
of purchasing or not purchasing them, a Palestinian website reported.
In an editorial published on its website, the Palestine Chronicle
said that there should be no action against products that are made
by the U.S. , or any other country, by firms owned by loyal citizens
who happen to be Jewish, Islamic, or Christian.
However, the paper added, if there are products from Israeli firms
in the world marketplace, and people wish to point out that they
are indeed Israeli products, and that to indicate their objection
to buying such products made in Israel because of Israeli aggression
and terrorist activities, then they have that right.
The Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions, has severely criticized
Israeli aggression against Palestinians and expressed their fury
at Israels damaging of the 1993 Oslo agreement, reported Norwegian
daily newspaper, Aften Posten on May 15.
The Federation has been fending off harsh and carefully organized
criticism from Israeli authorities and Jewish groups since it itself
criticized Israelis military action in the West Bank , the
On a speech delivered on Labor Day, the head of the organization
Gerd-Liv Valla called for a boycott of Israeli products until the
At the same time, Valla criticized the Norwegian Government for
being too passive to the conflict in the Middle East , reported
the Norway Post.
In my opinion they are too hesitant. I expect them to be
quite clear and distinct in their view of Kofi Annans initiative
for an international peace force, Valla said.
In her speech, Valla pointed to the fact that this years
May Day celebrations were marked by sorrow and anger over the conflict
in the Middle East . The situation has gone from bad to worse over
the last few weeks.
The promises by Israeli Prime Minister Sharon of security for the
population has led to the opposite. We will urge a boycott
of Israeli products as long as the conflict continues, Gerd-Liv
The reaction by Israeli and Jewish organizations has been swift.
A delegation from the federation was nearly prevented from entering
Israel in May and the Israeli embassy in Oslo has been crying foul.
There were also e-mail campaigns even from the Anti-Defamation League
of the U.S, the paper reported.
However, the Federation are standing by their position. Jon Ivar
Naalsund, an official in the organization, said that he believes
the Palestinians should have the same Israeli right to exist on
a long-term basis within secure and accepted boundaries, which was
the basis for the Oslo agreement. We are disappointed and
upset that Israel has damaged this work so severely, he said.
He said that the organization is far from alone in its criticism
of current Israeli policy, noting that other European labor organizations
also have opposed recent actions by Israel 's current conservative
In a speech which he gave on May 17, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell
Magne Bondevik expressed his unease clearly stated that he was against
a boycott of Israeli products, reported the Norway Post.
Some have called for a boycott, but I do not share such a
view. And it is not the Government's policy, Bondevik said
adding that a boycott and sanctions against Israel would not contribute
towards securing security and peace in the region.
We would only create aggression among the Israelis through
such an action. I disagree with TUC leader Gerd-Liv Valla on this
point, the Norwegian Prime Minister said.
The paper reported May 5 that trade union movements in Oslo will
begin a blockade of Israeli products, preventing the goods from
leaving the warehouses.
The Transport Workers Union will barricade the warehouses
belonging to the importers of fruit and vegetables, stopping the
delivery of Israeli produce, said the paper.
The union said the blockade will last until the Israeli military
actions against Palestinians are stopped. If the grocery chains
want any wares, they first have to remove the Israeli products,
says union spokesman Thorbjoern Kristoffersen.
However, the response for the boycott campaign has not been received
well in Norway by consumers, reported the Norway Post on May 3.
Most of the major grocery chains say they have not registered any
decline in the sale of Israeli goods.
Only one of the four largest chains, NorgesGruppen, reports a slight
decline in the sale of Israeli products compared with last year,
but they don't have any concrete figures, the paper said.
Bama, the fruit wholesalers, registered a 30 per cent drop in the
sales of Israeli potatoes at the beginning of April, but the sales
are now almost back to normal.
Swedish consumers on the other hand, have reacted more strongly,
according to the Swedish trade journal Fri Kopenskap. The sale of
Jaffa oranges in particular has suffered, and Ica Gourmet in Sweden
has changed to different suppliers of avocado and oranges, reported
There is also organized work carried out by Palestinians residing
in Norway . A group of them have started up an organization dedicated
for boycotting Israel . According to their website, Boycott
Israel, meet a couple of times a month, and have divided themselves
into three units: the consumer group, the shop group and the coordination-press
The consumer group deals with the printing of leaflets, posters
and stickers, as well as circulating the material. It is in charge
of holding stands every Saturday, and is responsible for most of
the normal boycotting work directed towards the consumer.
The shop group works at influencing shop owners in the Oslo area
not to sell Israeli products in their stores. This group deals with
individual shops as well as the wholesalers.
The coordination-press group is responsible for preparing and leading
the grand meetings, process requests, keep in contact
with affiliated organizations, work towards the press and run the
finances according to directives given by the grand meetings.
On May 8, the Aften Posten reported that Israel claims that foreign
donations, including the 20 million dollars Norway has given to
the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the past year, has funded what
it calls terrorist attacks.
Foreign funding covers about 70 percent of the PAs budget,
which has suffered after Israel withheld USD 507 million in taxes
and duties which should have gone to the Palestinian Authority this
year, reported the paper
To prevent the collapse of the PAs infrastructure and maintain
public salaries Norway , the European Union and several Arab nations
contributed money to cover the PAs monthly operating costs
of about USD 93 million.
Arab nations pitch in with about USD 55 million per month, the
EU gives USD 9 million monthly and Norway has donated two USD 10
million payments, once last year and once in 2002.
The European Union does not export items that are manufactured
in the occupied territories or in Jewish settlements.