By Aisha Mouneimne – Cape Town
Following a campaign launched this week by Friends of Al Aqsa calling on the boycotting of Israeli dates this Ramadan, the Cape Town based Muslim Judicial Counsel (MJC) on Wednesday urged the community to heed this call.
“It is important for the community to take cognisance during this month, while dates are an important part of our culinary needs during Ramadan, dates are increasingly being imported from occupied Palestine and we need to be aware of this,” said Nabaweyah Malick, spokesperson for the MJC.
Malick said most Muslim take it for granted that dates come from the Arabian Peninsula, but she said, with Israel’s leading fruit export being dates, South Africans need to become proactive in “checking their labels”.
According to the MJC these labels include product marked with the names Israel, West Bank or Jordon Valley as well as any product that’s barcode begins with 729. She added that while she did not want to name particular supermarket chains known for stocking Israeli produce, she urged the community to become vigilant with checking labels, as “the majority of supermarkets do stock Israeli products.”
Another issue of concern, said Malick, is the increase of Israeli goods imported via Namibia or Italy; meaning labeling could change in the process.
“The only answer here is for consumers to do constant research on where their products are coming from,” she said.
She noted that the date farms-like many other Israeli occupied farms, usually employ Palestinian children- forced by the dire economic climate to leave school and work on these farms. She said this should deter consumers in boycotting products, thinking it will hinder the cause.
“Israelis sometimes say that by boycotting Israeli goods, we are harming the Palestinian labourers. However, it is important to note that these farmers are only working the farms out of pure desperation, if the occupation was brought to an end, these Palestinians would once again work their own farms and export their own goods- and boycotting products is a way to end the occupation.”
Malick added that as South African- seeing the power of boycotts during the fall of Apartheid, we have an “added responsibility to add our voices to this cause.”
“As South Africans we have proved that when the determination and commitment is there, the fall of an injustice can be achieved. We need to show Israel that the world is awake and conscious of the international crimes that being committed by Israel.”
– Aisha Mouneimne is a journalist and freelance writer currently working for a Cape Town based Muslim radio station. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.