This article has been removed since its original publication. Nouse would like to apologise and thank those in the comments section below for bringing any inaccuracies to our attention. The University has since commented, ‘The fruit and vegetables on sale at the Costcutter on Market Square are purchased through a wholesaler solely on the basis of quality, price and availability. There is no ban on the products referred to in the article.’ After consultation with YUSU Nouse have been advised to edit the comments and close the thread as potentially-libellous comments were being posted. Please direct any complaints to the editor.
Statement from the York Palestinian Solidarity Society:
“There’s been a lot of misinformation and confusion spread over the past couple of weeks. It began with a Nouse article entitled ‘Palestinian Solidarity Society in Jaffa Ban’ (14th of February). Much of this stemmed from the article’s title itself, which was very misleading – and the UoY Palestinian Solidarity Society raised our concerns over this immediately. The article stemmed from a successful PSS action that week, with Costcutter on Market Square agreeing to switch suppliers from an illegal settlement–linked brand, Jaffa, who produce citrus fruit (no relation to McVities Jaffa Cakes), to another company. Jaffa-brand products are primarily distributed by a company, Mehadrin, which has been found by CorporateWatch and other NGOs to operate on illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.
“Members of our society suggested the removal of the misleading Nouse article on numerous occasions, due to the extent of factual errors and incorrect assumptions of ‘banning’ that arose from it. Instead, it was poorly re-edited, the revisions only clarifying a handful of inaccuracies made in the article. As a result our society suffered, and is continuing to suffer, from unnecessary abuse, insults and malicious claims. We would like Nouse to acknowledge their negligence which led to vilification of our Society and countless abusive comments both beneath the article and elsewhere.
“The Jaffa brand is linked closely with growers in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank which expropriate Palestinian land and exploit its limited water supplies. In this way, Costcutter’s customers were unwittingly contributing to the injustice by buying products that are inaccurately labelled as coming from Israel, when in fact they are likely to come from settlements declared illegal under international law. This is then, not only a human rights issue, but a consumer rights one, too.
“Last year, the Co-operative group decided to ‘no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements’, leading the way in terms of ethical practice. We hoped – rightly, in fact – that Costcutter would take a similar ethical approach. And we will be writing to Costcutter’s HQ and CEO requesting that the same attitude towards the settlement produce should be considered and adopted.
“Indeed, A UN report of September 2012 from the Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, listed a dozen companies that undermine and violate international law through having connections with Israeli illegal settlements. Mehadrin is one such company. Accordingly, a delegation from Palestinian Solidarity Society requested the manager use alternative ethically-assured companies and suppliers or provide an explanation of Costcutter’s policy on stocking Israeli settlement produce. The manager was understanding and said that our concerns were taken on board. He has since been victimised by right-wing groups after a Twitter-fueled UKIP-led campaign against the store’s decision, following the misleading Nouse article which linked the decision, bizarrely, to a Netherlands poisoning plot, Jaffa Cakes, and sensationally declared the supplier-change a ‘ban’.
“In the face of a vociferous online campaign, overwhelmingly by non-students with no links to the University, Costcutter have now said they will continue to stock the settlement-linked produce. We encourage students to boycott these goods, and get involved with Palestinian Solidarity Society – one of the most active and fastest-growing societies on campus. The Palestinian situation is a human rights issue, and the mislabelling of goods as ‘Israeli’ when they are from the Occupied Palestinian Territories a consumer rights issue. There will be plenty more positive actions from the society in the future. We only hope student media realise, after this saga, that poor reporting can have serious ramifications for societies’ and individuals’ welfare.”