A British supermarket chain is at the center of an anti-Semitism row, after a Jewish shopper found that the Kosher section had been completely removed, and was told by the store manager that Kosher food has been taken down because "We support Gaza."
Anti-Israel demonstrators had picketed the branch of Sainsbury's in Holborn, central London, part o fa pattern of aggressive calls to boycott Jewish-made Israeli goods - calls that often spilled over into violence.
In one incident Saturday, anti-Israel activists trashed a Tesco store in Hodge Hill while waving Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) flags, throwing produce on the ground and closing the establishment for several minutes. Likewise protests outside Tesco stores in Greater Manchester, Blackburn and Luton were reported.
The Sainsbury's move to empty the Kosher section was discovered that same Saturday by Jewish actor Colin Appleby, who posted a photo of the empty shelves on his Facebook page.
Appleby recounted what he had been told by the store manager, triggering a firestorm of criticism with many noting that a significant proportion of the Kosher goods were not even from Israel, and that the move amounted to pure anti-Semitism as it clearly targeted Jewish shoppers.
Journalist Jonathan Sacerdoti, who is also a Sainsbury's customer, called Sainsbury's on Sunday to register his shock over the incident, to which he was told the store decided to remove the Kosher goods out of fear that protesters would "take Kosher products off the shelf" and wreak havoc.
"Why is it considered a good reaction to remove products of interest to Jews from the shelves when there’s going to be some sort of violent intervention rather than to stop the violent intervention?" asked Sacerdoti. "If I told you I was going to go into the store and start trashing Halal products from the shelves, would you remove them all?"
"Of course not," responded the Sainsbury's telephone operator. After being pressed by Sacerdoti she refused to call the incident a "mistake," later refusing to comment on her statement that the store would not remove Halal products when faced with an identical threat.
A recording of the interchange from Sacerdoti's Facebook page can be heard here:
Following the public outrage over the removing of the Kosher section, Appleby returned to the branch on Saturday evening to find the products returned, writing on Facebook that "Sainsbury's assure me the staff member has been suitably chastised."
However, a Sainsbury's spokesperson told Daily Mail that while the products were removed from shelves, there was "no evidence" of the pro-Gaza comment.
"It was the manager's decision there and then - not company policy at all. We are a non-political organization and we're not coming down on either side of the argument," said the spokesperson.
Virulent anti-Semitism in the UK has been skyrocketing lately during Operation Protective Edge, with UK Jews demanding action from their community leaders and the British government to combat the rising tide of hatred.
For its part, the British government has threatened to suspend 12 arms export licenses to Israel if the fighting in Gaza resumes in Israel's counter-terror operation to defend its citizens from rocket and terror tunnel attacks.