Jews in the city of Vancouver in western Canada are fighting a campaign by pro-Arab groups that are calling for a boycott of products made in Israel.
According to a report on the Shalom Toronto website, Mark Gurvis, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, is encouraging local Jewish residents to protest the boycott calls.
Pro-Palestinian Authority groups have for a long time been waging a campaign against Israel as part of their so-called ‘boycott of Israeli apartheid,’ the report noted. Gurvis was quoted as having said that the campaign to boycott Israeli products is based on a comparison of Israel with the apartheid policy that was used in South Africa. He said making such a comparison obscures the complex reality of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
“Do the real problems have a solution? Of course. Is Israel is an apartheid state? No,” Gurvis was quoted as having said.
Shalom Toronto reported that the pro-Arab groups in Vancouver last Sunday held a protest rally against a local store named Lavan, which sells cosmetics and beauty products made in the Dead Sea. This was the second demonstration within the last three months against this specific store, the report noted, and the same groups held similar protests in the past, including one against a ship belonging to the Israeli company Zim which had moored in Vancouver, a protest against local wine stores that sell Israeli wines, and more.
Gurvis called on members of Vancouver’s Jewish community to counter-protest these groups by joining the BUYcott Israel group, which aims to support Israel by encouraging the purchase of products and services from Israel.
Boycotts against Israeli products are a regular occurrence around the world. A pharmacy chain in South Africa recently faced a boycott threat over its decision to sell Dead Sea skin care products.
An Arab woman who visited a branch of the Dis-Chem chain and noticed the products made sent a letter of complaint to the company, claiming the products come “from a country whose human rights violations replicate Hitler’s Nazism.”
Dis-Chem would not remove the products and the company’s CEO told the woman that likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations was a “a scurrilous slur that you have clearly chosen to employ in order to give maximum offence.”
He added: "If it is your intention to boycott Israeli products, you need to be consistent if your gesture is to have any meaning. I hope you don’t use an Intel chip in your computer with which you probably wrote your e-mail because it was invented in Israel.
“I hope that you stay in good health because if you need preventative surgery against a heart attack, you will have to boycott the procedure because guess what? The stent was invented in Israel!
“Likewise, I hope you are never prescribed any patch for diabetes, to deliver medication and other drugs. If you are an asthmatic you may have to use a new type of inhaler (Spin) invented in Israel. So please check!
“Israel has given the world the system of drip irrigation which is being widely adopted in SA with water shortages like many countries. Should you boycott all fruit and vegetables grown by this method? The list that Israel has given the world is very lengthy. Check very carefully before you boycott"
Other boycotts of the popular Ahava have been attempted in the past. In one such attempt, a pro-Arab group in Canada called for a boycott of the popular products, saying the company “is economically linked to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
An earlier similar attempt in Brooklyn actually achieved the opposite and managed to boost the company’s business.