(report by PSC UK, www.palestinecampaign.org)
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has called on all its branches to participate in a day of action in support of its BIG Campaign to boycott Israeli produce.
The campaign was launched in 2002 by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, plus scores of other organisations and hundreds of notable individuals. It is hoped it will achieve similar results to the boycott of South African goods which helped bring about the end of apartheid. Wide support has come from within Israel and Palestine with calls for the campaign to embrace all aspects of British relations with Israel, including an academic, sporting and cultural boycott. It will remain in place until the occupation of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank is ended and until Israel stops its human rights violations and complies with U.N. resolutions.
The campaign has several purposes. While letting the Palestinian people know that they are not forgotten, it sends a signal to Israel that if it continues to flout UN resolutions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, etc, and until it ends the occupation, it will meet the same response as any other nation breaching international law.
It is an opportunity for people to be ethical consumers and provides an excellent way of stimulating public debate through leafleting and discussion. It exerts moral pressure on the British government by giving expression to the desire for a truly ‘ethical foreign policy’, as well as exerting moral and economic pressure on Israel to comply with international legislation and principles of justice.
The 28 participating local groups and branches have reported very positively on the day. Stalls were placed in city centres and outside leading supermarkets and shops. Tesco seems to be the supermarket that most activists have chosen to target. Marks and Spencer was another favourite.
Leaflets, postcards, badges and other educational material was handed out to shoppers and passers-by. Petitions were signed and PSC members engaged with discussions with members of the public to raise awareness and explain why this campaign was launched.
Members in Halifax made sure that 250 boycott postcards were posted to arrive at Tesco on the day and have sent a follow up letter to the manager requesting a meeting. York PSC reported that people were mostly supportive of boycotting all things Israeli, mentioning Lebanon as a cause of their support. PSC Cardiff teamed up with PSC Cymru in the centre of Cardiff. The Red Choir, a Welsh music group sang in Welsh, English and Arabic and members of the Jewish community lent their support in voicing their dismay at Israelâs continuing occupation and violation of Palestinian human rights.
PSC Hackney decided to continue the pressure on Fresh and Wild and set up their stall opposite its shop. They took the opportunity to promote the Palestinian olive oil Zaytoun and sold twenty bottles. Fresh and Wild subsequently decided to stock Palestinian Olive Oil in its shop. Altogether thousands of leaflets were distributed and hundreds of people were informed of the BIG campaign and its aims.
Marks and Spencer reported the Oxford picketers to the police. The Oxford PSC reported that the police was quite friendly and that they left to reassure Marks and Spencer that their action was legal. Generally there were very few incidents reported during the day.
On the whole, all branches reported on a very successful day and found that most members of the public have responded very positively. There was a general feeling that the protest was worthwhile and contributed in educating the wider public on the ongoing human rights abuses committed by the Israeli state in the Occupied Palestinian territories.
The following branches participated in the activities of this day:
Birmingham, Blackpool, Bradford, Brent, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Bucks and Berks, Cambridge, Camden, Cardiff, Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Hackney, Halifax, Huddersfield, Lambeth and Wandsworth, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Sheffield, Slough, Southport, West London, Whitechapel, Wolverhampton and York.