South African government takes concrete step against illegal Israeli settlement products

Significant victory for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign against Israeli Occupation and Apartheid -Joint statement from South African, Palestinian and US organisations - Open Shuhada Street; Lawyers for Human Rights; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (SA); Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT); Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (Palestine) and Stolen Beauty Ahava Campaign

Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies, has published a notice in the Government Gazette (10 May 2012) stating:

I, … intend to issue a Notice in terms of … the Consumer Protection Act…to require traders in South Africa, not to incorrectly label products that originate from Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.” (GG No.35328 Notice 379 of 2012)

The DTI Notice further notes the Open Shuhada Street complaint that “products such as Ahava cosmetic brands, technology and soft drinks are being distributed in South Africa as products that originate in Israel whereas they originate from the OPT.” Products from the Israeli Settlements in the OPT are illegal under international law; however, Israel has tried exporting them in recent years under the false pretense of having been “Made in Israel”.

Significantly, Minister Davies states in the Notice that “the burden of proving where the products originate will lie with the traders”. The onus lies with the traders because “consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the OPT are products of Israel.” This will now render Israeli trade with South Africa far more difficult and is a serious setback for Israeli companies wanting to do business in South Africa. This move by the South African government is in line with its commitment not to recognize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In particular, it addresses the illegal economic exploitation of Palestinian land, water and other resources by 500 000 illegal settlers. Apartheid policies are enforced in the illegal settlements where, for example, Palestinians may only enter with security permits as cheap labour and schools are for Jewish Israeli settlers only.

The global Stolen Beauty Boycott Ahava campaign provided impetus to Open Shuhada Street

Minister Davies’ notice is a significant encouragement to all Palestinian people those in East Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, refugees and those living inside Israel’s 1948 borders. Government’s step in this direction is also a defence of Jewish Israeli dissenters and activists who (along with their Palestinian comrades) face imprisonment if they call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

Open Shuhada Street and its allies have been campaigning locally against false labelling by Israeli companies since 2010 as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. In particular, we have been inspired by the global campaign against Ahava led by women such as Nancy Krickorian from the Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign. Due to active BDS campaigning, Ahava has been forced to close down a shop in the UK, has been dropped by a major Canadian retailer, The Bay, and most recently, the Japanese agent of Ahava announced that it has ended all sales of Ahava products.

We demand that Wellness Warehouse, Dischem Group and Truworths immediately remove all Ahava products that originate in the Occuppied Palestinian Territories but are being falsely labelled as a “Product of Israel”. We further call on Pick ’n Pay, Woolworths and any other trader to refrain from carrying Israeli merchandise, such as Soda Stream.

Occupation is a crime! Don't steal from Palestine!

Open Shuhada Street, the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT-PSF) and Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS-SA) congratulates Minister Davies and his colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry. We welcome his call for public comment and we hope that every person who opposes illegal Israeli settlements, Occupation and racist laws, military prisons and courts will send their supportive submission to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Open Shuhada Street extends thanks to all it allies and its attorneys David Cote and Jacob van Garderen at Lawyers for Human Rights.

Muhammad Khatib, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (Palestine)