PRESS RELEASE: Woolworths using Dischem to deflect attention from #BoycottWoolworths campaign

The Palestine solidarity and human rights organization BDS South Africa has reliably learnt that Woolworths is trying to deflect attention from the growing #BoycottWoolworths campaign by directing the Israeli boycott towards another target, Dischem. Woolworths, we have been informed, for example, are suggesting to journalists that they interview Dischem's CEO Ivan Saltzman, a well known Israeli supporter. We note for example the recent Sunday Times article focusing on Dischem (when that company is not a current target of BDS South Africa).

This media strategy by Woolworths of deflecting attention to another company who's owner is an ardent Israeli supporter is irresponsible, nonsensical and a futile exercise. It is irresponsible because Woolworths is a public company that should be able to answer questions posed by the media and members of the public instead of either deflecting attention or referring to out-dated press statements (another PR tactic adopted by Woolworths). It is nonsensical because it can be compared to a person breaking the law but refusing to pay a fine just because others are also breaking the law. It is futile because we as BDS South Africa remain resolute in our focused campaign against Woolworths.
BDS South Africa adopts a strategic and focused approach to its consumer boycott campaigns. We are currently focusing our consumer boycott on Woolworths and once we achieve the goal of having Woolworths terminate its relations with Israel we will move on to the next target/retailer - which may or may not be Dischem. Given its claims to source responsibly and to be an ethical company we had hoped that the Woolworths would have taken the lead in responsible retail practice, respected the boycott of Apartheid Israel and terminated its relations with Israeli companies. This was one of the reasons why Woolworths was chosen for a BDS consumer boycott.
Various strategic considerations inform the choice for a BDS consumer boycott campaign, the one factor that DOES NOT influence our decision is whether the owner of a company is Jewish or an Israeli supporter in their personal capacity. Our reasoning for launching a consumer boycott against a company is based on whether they have relations with Israel or are complicit in Israeli human rights abuses. Most South African retailers have some sort of relations with Israel (and of a similar trade value) however we cannot boycott all of them at the same time as this is a daunting task that has a slim chance of having a concrete impact. Similar to the 1980s isolation of Apartheid South Africa, the BDS movement against Israeli Apartheid selects campaigns after careful analysis and strategic considerations.  Thus we focus our campaigns and move from one target to another as we reach our goals.

While our consumer boycott is focused on Woolworths, BDS South Africa is continuing to make gains on the political, governmental, academic and cultural boycott fronts. The consumer boycott, of which the #BoycottWoolworths campaign forms part of, is just one of the larger BDS campaigns being advanced by BDS South Africa on various fronts.
NOTES TO EDITOR: In 2005, with Israel's occupation, human rights abuses, violations of international law and illegal Israeli settlement activity increasing, Palestinians (inspired by the successful boycott and isolation of Apartheid South Africa) called on the international community to support a non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and its companies until Israel complies with international law and respects human rights.

The Palestinian-led and internationally-backed BDS campaign is a practical, non-violent, goal-orientated, focused and strategic campaign to hold the State of Israel accountable to international law and human rights. The BDS campaign is also increasingly supported by (progressive) Israelis. The international isolation of Israel it is hoped will lead to the necessary conditions for a just peace to be negotiated - similar to what occurred in South Africa and brought about a democratic country for all our people
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