Dis-Chem, a pharmacy chain in South Africa, is embroiled in a spat with a Durban woman over its decision to sell Israeli-made skin care products.
According to a report in the South African-based IOL News, the spat began when Fathima Moosa visited a branch of Dis-Chem and noticed that Dead Sea products made in Israel were sold in the store.
Moosa submitted an online letter of complaint, asking the company to remove the products.
“As a South African who lived under oppression, I was very upset to see that your store imports products from a country whose human rights violations replicate Hitler’s Nazism,” Moosa’s letter said, according to IOL News. “Please consider removing Israeli products from your shelves.”
Dis-Chem’s initial response was that the products would not be removed, causing Moosa to demand that her e-mail be forwarded to top management, IOL News said.
Ivan Saltzman, Dis-Chem’s CEO, responded to Moosa personally twenty days later, telling her 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.”
In Saltzman’s letter, the report said, he told Moosa that the crimes of the Nazi regime involved the deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians, largely Jews, noting that was a matter of planned policy.
“Is this really what Israel is doing? Obviously not – in fact, it does completely the opposite. Israel goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize civilian casualties and has been extremely successful in this regard,” Saltzman wrote.
“Palestinian (or for that matter Lebanese) casualties have been a tiny fraction of what they would have been if Israel had truly adopted a Nazi-like extermination policy, given the massive military capability it has at its disposal,” he added.
“In fact, it is very easy to identify the true modern-day Nazis in the Middle East,” Saltzman said. “They are found in the ranks of such murderous extremist groupings as Hamas, Hezbollah [sic] and Palestine Islamic Jihad (amongst others), all of which regard the mass murder of Israeli Jews as the noblest goal their followers can aspire to.”
He then added that if Moosa chose to boycott Dis-Chem it was her decision, adding, “However, 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 what you boycott,” Saltzman said, adding he would continue selling Dead Sea products.
According to the report, following Saltzman’s reply, pro-Palestinian Authority groups in South Africa called for a boycott of the Dis-Chem chain.
Salim Vally, spokesman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in South Africa, said it was shocking that the CEO of a major company would make such “outrageous statements”.
In a statement quoted by IOL News, the Media Review Network and the Muslim Judicial Council said it was “deplorable and completely unacceptable” that Saltzman justifies his company’s business ties with Israel by comparing Israel’s human rights violations with violations in other Middle Eastern countries.
In January, a pro-Arab group in Canada called for a boycott of the popular Ahava Dead Sea 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.