- Israel is the world’s 3rd largest ($) exporter of dates worth $151 million in 2014.
- The UK is Israel’s 3rd largest market for dates worth $23 million in 2014 (10,000 tons).
- 60% of the world’s Medjool dates are produced in Israel (2013).
- 60% of Israeli dates are grown on illegal settlement plantations in the Jordan Valley (2014).
If you buy a Medjool date, there’s a strong possibility that it is from an illegal settlement – grown on stolen land.
Boycott Israeli Dates leaflet (front)
Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land have been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice. Nearly half of the settlements in the Jordan Valley grow dates, it’s their most profitable crop, and contributes significantly to their economic viability. 80% of settlement dates are exported, making up some 40% of all dates exported from Israel. If you oppose the settlements then target their dates.
Palestinian child working in illegal Israeli settlement.
Out of desperate poverty Palestinian families are forced
to take their children out of school and hand them over
to the settlers to work for a pittance
(source: Channel4 news 7 July 2008)
Picking of the dates is hard work, Israeli settlers bring in low paid Palestinian labourers to do this back breaking work. During the pruning season, workers are dropped on the date palm trees by a hoisting crane at 5 in the morning, left perched on palms that soar to heights of 12 metres – a 4 storey building, left there swaying in the wind for up to 8 hours without even a toilet break, with no means to come down until the crane returns at the end of the day, the workers cling to the tree with one arm and work with the other to meet their quota. If they fall behind they will lose their jobs.
The Israelis prefer to employ children – even issuing them official work permits, as they can climb trees faster, work for less and it’s easier to cheat and humiliate them. Out of desperate poverty Palestinian families are forced to take their children out of school and hand them over to the settlers to work for a pittance.
Every year Israel expands its share of the global dates market – up 16% in 2011; up 23% in 2012, it surpassed Saudi Arabia to now become the world’s 3rd largest exporter of dates ($ terms) after Tunisia and Iran with an export value of $151 million in 2014. After the Netherlands and France, the UK is Israel’s largest market for dates worth $23 million in 2014 with nearly 10,000 tons of Israeli dates being exported to the UK.Hadiklaim, the Israeli Date Growers Cooperative, which includes illegal settler plantations in the Jordan Valley, sells 65% of all Israeli dates. Its brand names include Jordan River, King Solomon, Tamara Barhi Dates, Desert Diamond, Rapunzel, Bomaja, Shams and Delilah. They also supply Israeli dates to supermarkets who market them under their own brand. These include Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose. Sometimes they are labelled “produced in the West Bank”, remember these are not Palestinian dates. Hadiklaim have also sold South African dates with profits going to Israel, but due to the boycott their South African partner Karsten Farms have cut ties and vowed never to partner with any Israeli entity complicit in the occupation.
Mehadrin, Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter, boasted of doubling their Medjoul date sales sighting strong demand in Ramadan! Their dates have brand names Premium Medjoul, Fancy Medjoul, Royal Treasure, Red Sea, and Bonbonierra. Sometimes their packaging states “Grown by Palestinian Farmers”, this refers to Palestinian ‘slave’ labourers found on Israeli plantations.
Tnuvot Field (Field Produce Marketing Ltd) is Israels 3rd largest exporter of Medjool dates. Its brand names include Paradise dates, and Star dates.
READING LABEL NOT ENOUGH
Unfortunately reading the label is no longer enough as Hadiklaim admit that from 2012 they have been shipping dates from the Jordan Valley labelled ‘Produce of Palestine’ to Europe and Dubai. It’s unclear how much of this is from Palestinian farms and how much is from illegal Israeli settlements.An Al-Jazeera report from August 2012 interviewed an Israeli agricultural export manager in Mahola settlement, one of the illegal Israeli colonies on the West Bank where Hadiklaim sources its Medjool dates. He explained a pallet of dates boxes in his packing warehouse labelled “Palestine – Jericho” by saying that “sometimes the British object [to buying from us].. We just avoid writing ‘Israel’ on the boxes.. we often print special boxes at the request of the client.. sometimes they ask us to change the name of the country of origin on the boxes.”
There are also reports of Palestinian ministry of economy intercepting 20 tons of Israeli settlement dates on their way to Palestinian packing houses for repackaging for export under the “Made in Palestine” label. Reporters from the Anadolu news in Sept 2014 interviewed several Palestinian merchants in Ariha involved in this nefarious activity. The collaborators admitted “We do trade in dates of the settlements, which we buy at prices that are 40 per cent lower than the market price. And in order to be able to market the dates, we clean and re-package them and choose the best in preparation for selling them in the local market, as well as the Arab and European markets” They estimate the annual volume of his seasonal sales of dates is nearly 350 tons. They use licensed companies that are registered officially. The export process takes place after the official bodies check the quality and specifications of the product, ensuring the product’s conformity with European specifications and international standards. It is then exported under the “Made in Palestine” label.
So now even the ‘Made in Palestine’ label is no longer a guarantee that you are not buying Israeli occupation dates! We would caution against buying any Medjool dates from the region unless they are from trusted Palestinian sources like Zaytoun or Yaffa.
Checking the label is not enough – label says Palestine – Jericho, but the dates are produced in illegal Israeli settlement of Mahola
In 2005 Palestinian civil society initiated a call for people of conscience around the world to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. The call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian organisations representing all aspects of society including farmers.
PLEA FROM PALESTINE
Activists visiting the Palestinian village of Fasayl in the Jordan Valley discovered that villagers are slowly being forced off their land by the Israeli army for settlement expansion. The only livelihood left open to them is to work for those same Israeli settlements. These Palestinians whose land had been stolen and were forced to work for the settlements (including two children under the age of 12), in order to feed their families – they had a message for the activists, a plea for anyone who would listen – ‘take action against the companies that support Israeli apartheid!’ What excuse is left for us not to boycott Israel?
Help Us Distribute Boycott Israeli Dates Leaflets
Its simple – you don’t need to join any groups, just get a couple of friends together, order your free leaflets and start distributing!
With Ramadan rapidly approaching we need your help to get the message out to our people – Do Not Buy Israeli Dates. We need your help to distribute ‘Boycott Israeli Dates’ leaflets in your Mosques, your campuses, and your communities.
Its simple – you don’t need to join any organisations or facebook groups, just get a couple of friends together and order your leaflets. The leaflets are sent free of charge, just let us know how many you can distribute and we will send them.
This Ramadan don’t just think of the Palestinians, but act!
Our beloved Prophet (SAW) has said “The Ummah are like one body: if the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain..”.
Today Palestine is bleeding…
Distributing on the internet
We also need your help creating awareness for the campaign on the internet, on social networking sites , etc. Included below are jpegs of the leaflet in various sizes so that you can start sharing them on your favourite websites, blogs, mailing lists, facebook and twitter.
Boycott Israeli Dates leaflet (1200px, both sides)
Boycott Israeli Dates leaflet (800px, back)
When approaching shops that are selling Israel dates make sure you ask to speak to the owner – the person behind the till might just be a worker who has no say in what the shop sells. Always remember to be polite, remember you have the moral high ground so reason with them and give them a way forward without them loosing face.
Common responses from shop keepers and sample replies:
1. Everyone is selling them, why are you picking on my little corner shop, Tesco’s sells them why dont you go there?
2. My customers ask for it. I also sell Tunisian dates, I provide choice – the customer decides, its a free country.
These dates are grown on stolen land, Palestinian families have been thrown off their land in order to grow these dates. If these dates contributed to YOUR families suffering, YOUR children’s suffering would you still sell them because customers ask for it? Is a Palestinian child worth less than YOUR child?
If your customers insist on Mejoul dates, why not order Palestinian Mejoul dates, these are now readily available in the UK from Zaytoun.org and Yaffa.co.uk.
3. Everything is Israeli, it wont make any difference to boycott israeli dates.
4. These dates are not Israeli, they are South African it says so on the box [ pointing to Kalahari Karsten Farms Mejoul dates box ]
5. I do it for the Palestinians, I know that poor Palestinians are working on those Israeli farms. At least this was they will get a little money, so they dont starve over Ramadan.
Sample letter to give shopkeepers
Dear Shopkeeper,Greeting of peace,Please spare a few minutes to read this important letter, thank you.
As a customer of yours I wish to draw your attention to something which is very dear to my heart and I am sure to many of your other customers and hopefully to yours as well, namely the plight of the Palestinian people.
For 60 years now they have lived under brutal Israeli occupation, their land stolen from them, their homes demolished and their children murdered in front of their eyes. The United Nations has condemned Israel on many, many occasions, and the International Court of Justice has ruled the Israeli settlements are illegal – built on stolen Palestinian land, and those that lived through the horror of apartheid in South Africa have described Israel as practising a much worse form of apartheid than anything they suffered under. And yet despite all this, the oppression continues, nothing changes.
So in 2005 Palestinian civil society, over a 170 organisations representing every aspect of society including farmers, teachers and labourers, issued a call asking ordinary people around the world, people on conscience like us – you and I, to help by respecting their call to boycott Israeli goods until Israel complies with international law and respects Palestinian rights.
It is in this endeavour that I humbly urge you, as your customer, please do not help oppress the Palestinians by selling Israeli goods, in particular please do not sell Israeli dates this Ramadan. Every year just before Ramadan, Israel especially targets small retailers who serve the Muslim community in to stocking its dates. The included leaflet lists which brands of dates are Israeli and should be avoided, it also includes details of the suffering Palestinians undergo in the production of these dates. This Ramadan please think of the Palestinians.
PS As your customers, we will be frequenting your store, please do not disappoint – thank you