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Canadian Anti-Israel Group Seeks to Boycott Retail Giant

A pro-Arab, anti-Israel group in Canada seeks to boycott Sears for selling Israeli products. BUYcott is fighting back.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/2/2012, 6:44 AM

Sears store
Sears store
Reuters

The calls by anti-Israel groups around the world to boycott the Jewish State continue, and a Canadian group is now seeking to boycott a major department store.

According to a report in The Canadian Jews (CJN), the latest call for a boycott of Israeli products is aimed at Sears Canada.

The report said that a group called Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CJPME) has asked the retail giant to drop several Israeli-made products that it carries, including the Ahava Dead Sea Products. Other products the group has asked to boycott include Keter Plastic and Stanley Israel products.

CJN reported that the group says that many of the firms’ “products are sourced and manufactured in illegal colonies located in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The group wrote this in a letter dated January 17. The letter was erroneously addressed to former Sears president and CEO Dene L. Rogers, who was replaced in June of 2011 by Calvin McDonald, noted the report.

Sears would not comment on the matter, CJN noted, and the chain is continuing to sell the Israeli-made products.

CJPME is the same group which last year called for a boycott of the Ahava Dead Sea products.

A “fact sheet” the group posted on its website claimed that Ahava “is economically linked to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Almost forty-five percent of AHAVA is owned by Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, two illegal Israeli colonies established near the Dead Sea shorelines of the West Bank.”

CJN reported that the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), through its BUYcott Israel initiative, is fighting back and has sent out an alert to its followers to shop en masse at Sears. BUYcott launched a similar initiative when CJPME tried to boycott Ahava.

Sara Saber-Freedman, Montreal-based executive vice-president of CIJA, told CJN her organization is aware of the group and that its tactics are increasingly being marginalized.

“We’ve seen a real decrease in the overall number of boycott calls in Canada over the last year or so, largely because those calls have proven to be such consistent failures,” she said. “By acting together though programs like BUYcott, we send a strong message to those who oppose a two-state solution and see boycott of Israel as a way to attain that objective.”

Calls by pro-Arab groups to boycott Israeli products were also recently made in the Canadian city of Vancouver.

The calls were specifically made against Lavan, a Vancouver store owned by an Israeli and which sells cosmetics and beauty products made in the Dead Sea.

The store has been targeted by local pro-Arab groups who held a protest rally against it for selling Israeli products. Similar protests have been held 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.

Last week, Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, visited Lavan in order to express his support for its fight against the pro-Arab groups.

Recently, Mark Gurvis, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, encouraged local Jewish residents to protest the calls for boycotts of Israel and Israeli products.

Gurvis said that the campaign to boycott Israeli products due to Israel’s so-called ‘apartheid policy’ 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.

He called on members of Vancouver’s Jewish community to counter-protest these groups by joining the BUYcott Israel group.