Nearly half of the illegal settlements in the Jordan Valley grow dates and it’s their most profitable crop contributing significantly to their economic viability. That profitability involves illegal underpayment of Palestinian workers, exploitation of child labor and dispossession of Palestinian farmers from their land. Boycotting Israeli dates is one of the most direct ways to target illegal settlements.
Exports of dates earn Israel $265 million a year. About 60% comes from illegal settlement plantations and packaging facilities, mainly in the Jordan valley but also in the Dead Sea area. Hadiklaim, the Israeli Date Growers Cooperative, is the major producer, selling under these brands throughout Europe and the US:
Jordan River Bio-Top for bio-organic dates
But most importantly CHECK THE LABEL!
Supermarkets often stock Israeli dates under their own name (in the UK this includes this includes Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Waitrose).
There has been also been a very worrying practice of mislabeling dates as Product of Israel when they’ve been either grown or processed in settlements. Sometimes they are labelled “produced in the West Bank.” These are not Palestinian dates.
Child exploitation and illegal labor practices
A 2006 investigative report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz exposed many of these unfair labor practices, which include leaving workers, including children, on the tops of date palm trees in the grueling sun for up to nine hours, in some cases, at a stretch with no breaks. Palestinian workers are paid less than their Israeli counterparts, in violation of Israeli law. – See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/ramadan-israel-dates-boycott-campaign-launched-in-us-9311#sthash.xbrH1cXB.dpuf
Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that more than 7,000 children between 5 and 17 years of age were working in the Jordan Valley alone – See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2012/ramadan-israel-dates-boycott-campaign-launched-in-us-9311#sthash.xbrH1cXB.dpuf
There are good alternatives
Buying medjool dates from Yaffa will actually support a Palestinian company. Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Iran are other big producers. For US consumers there are many medjool date producers in California, which will also help you reduce your carbon footprint.
Agrexco was the flagship state-supported company in charge of Israeli exports of dates and other produce. The BDS has been acknowledged as a contributing factor to its collapse in 2011
In 2012 the UK’s coop Group
A spokesperson for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which works to improve the conditions of Palestinian agricultural communities, said: “Israeli agricultural export companies like Mehadrin profit from and are directly involved in the ongoing colonisation of occupied Palestinian land and theft of our water. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people, so we warmly welcome this principled decision by the Co-operative. The movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law is proving to be a truly effective form of action in support of Palestinian rights.”
On the 28th of January 2013 another major BDS victory was announced when BDS Movement South Africa and Palestine Solidarity Alliance issued a press statement announcing that Karsten Farms, a leading South African agricultural company, has severed its trade relations with Hadiklaim. Campaigners have been trying to persuade Karsten to end its relationship with the Israeli cooperative for the last three year
On Friday 6 June 2014, Friends of Al Aqsa in the UK will be holding their 5th annual Check the Label – Boycott Israeli Dates campaign. You can support the action via twitter. More details and campaign materials available here: