Saturday, January 27, 2007

 

South Africans Boycott Israeli Avocados, Diamonds

Here are some excerpts from "Avocados, Diamonds at Core of Anti-Israel Trade Campaign" by Moyiga Nduru:
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 26 (IPS) - A call from a South African trade unionist for national supermarket chains to stop importing avocado from Israel could ultimately lead to the banning of all imports from the Jewish state, if unions and human rights activists have their way.

Katishi Masemola, secretary general of the Food and Allied Workers' Union (FAWU), told South Africa's supermarket chains earlier this week that Israel produces avocado under "slave-type conditions". He says the International Labour Organisation (ILO) forbids the use of child labour which, he claims, Israel is employing on avocado farms.

IPS contacted the Israeli embassy in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, for comment. It did not return IPS's call.

Masemola told IPS in an interview: "Israel is occupying parts of Palestine and it's frustrating its moving towards statehood. In those occupied territories, avocados are produced under harsh slave-type conditions. Israeli farmers hire Palestinian children and pay them peanuts." ...

When IPS began making inquiries, it found that the fruit debate was only the tip of the iceberg. "It's not only avocado. The main item that concerns us is diamond. Israel imports diamond from South Africa; polishes it and cuts it before selling it back to South Africa at almost ten times its original value. It does the same with gold," Mohamed told IPS by phone from Cape Town.

"Israel imports diamond worth three billion rand (about 430 million dollars) from South Africa a year. Israel doesn't produce a single diamond. Yet 30 percent of its GDP (gross domestic product) comes from diamond. The diamond could be polished and cut in South Africa to provide jobs for the estimated 40 percent unemployed South Africans," he said. ...

Slowly, the anti-Israeli coalition is growing in South Africa. "We haven't made the call to impose sanctions against Israel yet. We know Israel commits atrocities against Palestinians. But we are moving there. It's just a matter of months," Masemola said.

"We are making a call to mobilise South African workers. We want to all diamonds from Israel to be treated as conflict diamonds. We urge people not to buy diamonds from Israel," said Mohamed.

An international campaign targeting Israeli crafted diamonds is planned for February in South Africa, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ireland. ...

The South African government, which has not imposed sanctions, nor introduced boycott regulations, on Israeli goods, is perceived to be pro-Palestine, given the history between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). The former apartheid regime worked closely with the Jewish state.
See also: "Blood Diamonds"--the Israeli Connection

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