The consumer boycott of Israel is just beginning in Canada, but the Israel lobby appears to be already panicky. In August, they even called the cops to investigate stickers which appeared in a Vaughan grocery story. Read more.
York Regional Police were asked by a complainant in Vaughan, Ontario to investigate an incident in which a Sabra hummus product was targeted by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS), according to an article in the Canadian Jewish News.(CJN)
The BDS movement is still only in its infancy in Canada but the lobby appears to feel that it is growing. According to CJN, “stickers advising consumers not to purchase products made in Israel are popping up across Canada”.
While CJN is clearly worried about the spreading movement, it did not tell its readers about another worry – police do not seem to be accepting the argument that this is a hate crime.
Mysterious BDS sticker
Since August 8th, an image of a Sabra hummus tub purchased at the Sobeys grocery store in Vaughan, north of Toronto, with a “Boycott Israeli Apartheid” sticker on it has been widely circulated on Facebook.
Its not clear how the sticker came to be in a Canadian store since it was actually produced by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) a British NGO. PSC is a public and legally registered NGO in the UK which counts celebrities like actress Julie Christie, film maker Ken Loach, UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Jewish Israeli academic Ilan Pappe among its “patrons”.
“Facebook posts now show stickers on Sabra hummus, Keter and SodaStream products, Glutino biscuits, dates and tangerines at grocers, and at hardware stores in Montreal, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Brampton, Ontario, and other towns in British Columbia.”
– Canadian Jewish News
How a British sticker got on Israeli food products in Canada a bit of a mystery. But it does reflect the international nature of the growing boycott.
In Canada, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has recently launched its own sticky note boycott initiative. CJPME is offering free packets of BDS sticky notes to Canadians wanting to discourage the purchase of Israeli products.
How effective can a consumer boycott be?
Will the economic pressure of a boycott ever be strong enough to really affect Israeli behaviour? It’s hard to tell. Many Israeli exports of course, (e.g. military/police equipment), are immune to a consumer boycott.
However, the anti-apartheid boycott did tremendous harm to the reputation of South Africa, despite the fact that South African oranges and wine were a only small part of its exports. The negative publicity generated by the boycott campaign gradually forced outside powers like the US and the UK to stop supporting the apartheid regime.
But is boycotting Sabra anti-Semitic?
Israel’s defenders claim that the boycott is anti-Semitic because it opposes Jewish businesses. BDS advocates deny the charge. They point out that BDS opposition to Sabra is based solely on the fact that it is an Israeli firm. (Legally, Sabra is an American company, but it is a subsidiary of the Israeli conglomerate Strauss.)
Your comments welcome. Do you think the BDS movement is growing in Canada? Have you seen any signs of it? Do you welcome this development… or not??
REMINDER: THERE IS STILL TIME TO WIN $1000 IN OUR ESSAY CONTEST!! A $1000 prize is available for the best essay by a Canadian under 30 on whether Canada should support BDS. Get more info by clicking on this link. Contest ends September 30th.
Do you want to support the educational work of Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP)? Why not join? Or make a donation? Or learn more about what we do? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.