DUP calls for rethink on Co–op policy on boycott
Tuesday 19th June 2012
On Friday [15th June] we met with senior representatives of the Co–operatives Board in NI and Scotland regarding its decision to boycott four Israeli firms who trade with businesses in the settlements. Clearly whilst we embrace and encourage the ethical and responsible sourcing of goods we feel that this particular Coop policy of targeting one country and its people is wrong.
Joint statement by Peter Weir MLA, William Humphreys MLA, David McIlveen MLA, Councillor Peter Martin and Steven Jaffe [Co Chair – Northern Ireland Friends of Israel]
On Friday [15th June] we met with senior representatives of the Co–operatives Board in NI and Scotland regarding its decision to boycott four Israeli firms who trade with businesses in the settlements. Clearly whilst we embrace and encourage the ethical and responsible sourcing of goods we feel that this particular Coop policy of targeting one country and its people is wrong. Rather it should be examining its own list of suppliers and ensuring they do not trade with regimes that demonstrate poor human rights records. In fact Israel is ranked only ten places below the UK in terms of its record on civil liberties and political freedoms.
‘This so called boycott will never alter the direction of the Israeli government, but rather will target the jobs and livelihood of normal people like all of us trying to make a living in hard economic times. This is clearly an ill judged decision. ‘
‘This is a very one sided policy which will give the impression that the Co–op is taking sides in a very complex and troubled part of the world. I appreciate that this has arisen from an orchestrated political campaign by a small group of activists, but I believe that the Co–op need to abandon this mistaken policy.’
‘3 weeks ago I gave the Co–op a list of countries [with extremely poor human rights records] – they have been unable, or unwilling, to confirm or deny that they trade with businesses who trade with these countries. If my fears indeed are correct this would demonstrate incredible hypocrisy and double standards regarding this current decision.’
‘The Jewish community in Northern Ireland has always played a valuable and positive role in our society as in general has the Co–operative movement. I believe that the Co–op has to show some respect to the wider Jewish community, by dropping this discriminatory stance. They need to rethink and reverse their position.’
‘On behalf of NIFI I would like to thank the DUP elected representatives for meeting with Co Op officials. I am delighted they made it absolutely clear that many people in Northern Ireland find this boycott policy highly offensive. If the Co Op wishes to encourage peace in the Middle East it should be building bridges between Israeli and Palestinian cooperatives. Instead it is undertaking a negative and sterile Boycott which alienates many of its customers.’
We would therefore ask all Co–op customers that when they are next in their local shop they make it clear to the manager that they oppose this targeted boycott of Israeli businesses and ask that their views made known at a regional level.
Editors notes: Source used for Human Rights Indices –“Tables, Graphs, and Other Supporting Documents”, Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House, 13 January 2011