January 28, 2013
In a move being celebrated as a South African boycott-of-Israel breakthrough, Karsten Farms, a leading South African agricultural company backed by one of South Africa’s primary finance bodies, the Industrial Development Corporation, has severed its relations with the Israeli cooperative, Hadiklaim, and has also undertaken not to enter into any future relations with any Israeli entity complicit in the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestine. This is the first time that a South African company has adopted such a legal undertaking.
Early last year, South African human rights organizations, lead by the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA) and BDS South Africa, launched a consumer campaign against Karsten Farms due to its trade relations with Israel’s Hadiklaim – an Israeli company operating, against international law, in the illegal Israeli settlements.
This week, after almost a year of campaigning, in a letter to BDS South Africa via their lawyers, Werksmans Attorneys, Karsten Farms undertook: “Not to enter into any trade relations with Hadiklaim for the current harvest year of 2013 and not have any business relations with them [Hadiklaim] in the future.”
In addition, and in a breakthrough move, Karsten Farms also undertook: “Not to enter into any trade relations with any Israeli company and/or entity within the occupied/illegal settlement areas of Israel”.
Siphiwe Thusi of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance welcomed the news: “This is the first time that a South African company has taken the legally as well as ethically correct decision not to trade with Israeli companies complicit in the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Karsten Farms has indeed set a precedent for other South African businesses and companies to follow. This is a breakthrough not only for the boycott of Israel but also for ethical and good business practice.”
Thusi, added that “the call for the consumer boycott of Karstens products has now ended by virtue of their legal undertakings” however he also cautioned that “the Palestine Solidarity Alliance and BDS South Africa will be monitoring the situation and if any new Israeli relations, even if via third parties, were to be formed, the boycott campaign against Karsten Farms would be re-launched, and intensified.”
In 2005 Palestinians issued a call to the international community for a program and campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to be applied against Israel as a non-violent method to pressure Israel to end its violations of international law, respect Palestinian human rights and engage in fair negotiations for a just peace.
Since 2005, Israel has suffered from a significant cultural boycott and an increasing economic boycott. In April 2012, the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, the Co-Op, became one of the first companies in the world to adopt a boycott of Israeli companies complicit in the illegal settlements and occupation of Palestine. A few months later, in the United States, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, comprising of over 2 million members, voted to boycott Israel’s Hadiklaim – the same company that Karsten Farms has now severed links with. Israel has subsequently passed a law, the “anti-boycott law”, allowing those that call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts against Israel to be sued and fined.
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BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)
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