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Call to boycott Israeli dates this Ramadan – defend Palestinian human rights

August 21, 2009

BY COUNCILLOR ABJOL MIAH

Cllr Abjol promoting the Boycott Israeli Dates Campaign- Burdett Road

Cllr Abjol Miah promoting the Boycott Israeli Dates Campaign- Burdett Road

This Ramadan I will be stepping up my calls for awareness among Tower Hamlets residents about where their Iftar dates originate.

Many of us do not realise it, but illegal Israeli settlements account for every 1 in 10 dates that are imported into Europe. Despite being certified illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004, West Bank produce grown on land stolen from the Palestinians still flows freely into our country, where many unsuspecting consumers may purchase it unaware of its brutal origin.

These fruit plantations often employ Palestinians to work long hours for a pittance. Palestinian children in particular are used, thus depriving them of their education at the same time.

Simple vigilance is enough to stop you unwittingly supporting Israeli human rights violations. Check the packaging on your dates before you buy – ‘Produced in the West Bank’ is to be avoided as this means Israeli settlements, and certain supermarket brands – such as Tesco and Sainsburys – use Israeli dates.

I have been demanding action on this matter for years. The EU-Israel preferential trade agreement, which is why so much Israeli produce ends up on our supermarket shelves, is an outrage. It conveniently ignores the rules that say trade partners must meet certain standards in human rights. The government must act now and bring its weight to bear to demand an ethical trade policy in Europe, based on international law and mutual respect.

In the meantime, I will be continuing to ensure as many as possible know of the hazards of buying Israeli dates – so this Ramadan, don’t break fast with dates stained with the blood of the Palestinian people.

For more information:

Visit the Boycott Israeli Goods section on dates
See www.zaytoun.org for where to buy fair trade Palestinian dates

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