Dear Friends and Comrades,
We have received several messages querying whether the South African company, Karsten Farms (that sell dates, amongst other produce, under brands such as "Kalahari Medjoul Dates") should be boycotted.
Earlier this week BDS South Africa together with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (SA) communicated directly with Karsten Farms, undertook investigations and have subsequently found that Karsten Farms have indeed violated the Palestinian BDS call by having a trade agreement with an Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim (which also operates in Israel's illegal settlements). Thus, we support and encourage the boycott of Karsten Farms and call on the company to immediately end its Israeli relations.
In 2005 Palestinians issued a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it abides by international law and basic human rights (www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro
). Karsten Farms and Israel's Hadiklaim have a trade agreement whereby Karsten Farms exports South African Kalahari Medjoul dates to Israel's Hadiklaim cooperative, the cooperative then packages and markets Karsten Farms' Medjoul dates before it enters European and other markets (through the Israeli cooperative and under Israeli brands such as Jordan River, King Solomon, Kalahari etc.). Thus, Karsten Farms has a formal agreement with Israel's Hadiklaim cooperative and is in clear violation of the Palestinian BDS call. Furthermore, beyond just being an Israeli company, the Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim, also directly profiteers and is complicit in the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression of the Palestinian people:
- Hadiklaim's CEO stated in the Israeli newspaper, YNet News, that the occupied Palestinian Jordan Valley is an "important area" for Hadiklaim. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Jordan Valley is illegal under international law. (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694
- In Europe, South Africa's Karsten Farms' Kalahari Medjoul dates have been packaged and sold under Israeli brands and in Israeli packaging. This has caused consumer confusion, and allegations of boycott-busting by Karsten Farms and Hadiklaim. BDS campaigners claim that joint ventures like this (between SA's Karsten Farms and Israel's Hadiklaim) are deliberately attempting to confound the international boycott against Israel movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3694
- Israel's Hadiklaim is also complicit in subjecting Palestinian workers to hazardous labor conditions. For example, workers are hoisted into trees with a date picker and are often left to work on a platform high above the ground for the entire duration of the day without meals or toilet breaks. The majority of workers are Palestinian or Thai migrants – who are uniformly paid below the minimum wage. In a recent documentary, one Palestinian worker commented that workers are treated like "monkeys" made to hop from tree to tree. (www.leedspsc.org.uk/?p=1671
DELIBERATE DELAYING BY KARSTEN FARMS
In 2009, Karsten Farms spokesperson, Pieter Karsten, said that he was concerned with ‘the plight of the Palestinians’ and that he would reconsider his relationship with Hadiklaim (www.alaaltalk.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/karsten-farms-cleared-in-date-saga/
). However, when the consumer watchdog organization, Corporate Watch, spoke to Karsten's in 2010, the SA company was still selling dates to Israel's Hadiklaim and, although Pieter Karsten reiterated that he would consider “revising the [Israeli] relationship”, there was no sign of any movement (www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3725
This week Wednesday (18 July 2012), Pieter Karsten again confirmed, on South African radio, his company's continued collaboration with Israel's Hadiklaim. It is evident that Karsten Farms is deliberately ignoring calls to terminate their Israeli relations. If Karsten Farms trades with Israel, we can choose not to support such complicity by boycotting the company.
SIGNIFICANT BDS VICTORY BY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH - RELATED TO KARSTEN FARMS
The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, comprising of over 2 million members, voted earlier this month (on the 08th of July 2012) to boycott Israel's Hadiklaim - the same company that Karsten Farms has chosen to trade with. The vote to boycott the company was taken by an overwhelming majority, 457 to 180. (www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000763491&fid=1725
In light of the above, and given our country's history, it is shameful that a South African company continues to trade with an Israeli cooperative directly complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and in violation of the Palestinian BDS call.
TAKE ACTION NOW:
1. Refuse to buy products from Karsten Farms;
2. Inform store-owners of your decision and request them to communicate this to Karsten Farms;
We urge all, including Karsten Farms, to heed the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: "The issue of a principled commitment to justice lies at the heart of responses to the suffering of the Palestinian people and it is the absence of such a commitment that enables many to turn a blind eye to it."
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS in SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
Office 915 | 9th Floor | Khotso House | 62 Marshall Street | Johannesburg
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BDS South Africa is a registered Non-Profit Organization. NPO NUMBER: 084 306 NPO
BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18A status. PBO NUMBER: 930 037 446
"Surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh? Surely resistance also makes us human? Palestinians have chosen, like we did, the nonviolent tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions"
Archbishop Desmond Tutu