Countering a boycott
by: Michael Green - Last updated: 2007-06-17
In case it had passed you by, last week saw a 'Boycott Israeli Goods' day here in Bristol. Not to miss this opportunity, anti-Zionists took to the city's streets to persuade retailers and shoppers to steer clear of dates, avocados and other delicacies from the Holy Land.
More than half a dozen Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) activists assembled outside the Fresh & Wild store in Clifton with banners, flags and leaflets.
To see what all the fuss was about, I asked shop staff what Israeli products they sold and was directed to the Galia melons. After eating the Zionist fruit - sweet and perfectly ripe - I staged a counter-demonstration, with an Israeli flag, placard and leaflets explaining why the boycott is counter-productive. They PSC were somewhat less aggressive than previous encounters when they branded me a 'Nazi', told me to 'go to Israel' and 'stop occupying' their pavement. After around 45 minutes the PSC dispersed and I was joined by half a dozen Jews who were passing by. The boycotters shortly reassembled at the nearby Co-op store where they were met with indifference from shop staff. One of the activists, who had previously hid her face behind a banner, suggested that Palestinian 'resistance', including firing rockets at Israelis, was acceptable. After an hour or so they dispersed again, to where is unclear. One of them was seen later in the ranks of the so-called 'Peace' vigil in the City Centre.
"We are not political", said staff at Fresh & Wild who also explained that the store would not be changing their policy of selling Israeli food. They told me that anti-Zionists had previously interfered with Israeli products in the store. For a number of years, anti-Zionist activity in Bristol has gone unchecked with propaganda stalls and an attempted boycott campaign. Although the Harvest shop has stopped selling Israeli organic vegetables other retailers, including Harvest's sister store in Bath, have not yielded to the campaign.
In a city with a somewhat invisible and transient Jewish population, the lack of counter-action has left them emboldened to continue their activities. It's reassuring to see that Jews in Bristol are increasingly standing up for Israel.
Michael Green blogs at: Swords and Ploughshares