Joint Statement By The Jewish Leadership Council And The Board Of Deputies Of British Jews Regarding Recent Incidents In Major Retail Stores

For immediate Release – Monday 18th August 2014

The Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews today condemned the incidents of protests, store invasions and boycotts of Israeli or kosher products at major retail stores in recent days.

The condemnation follows the ransacking of Tesco stores, part-closure of Sainsbury’s stores, and retailers being brought under pressure to stop sourcing goods from Israeli companies, with the Holborn branch of Sainsbury’s withdrawing kosher products out of fear of protesters.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council are on record as saying that the protesters behind this campaign have no interest in securing a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians and through such actions, risk importing the Middle East conflict to the UK, dividing local communities.

The leadership of the Jewish community condemns the violence in retail stores and are backing  individual store managers to call the police if there is disruption to peaceful business and intimidation of staff.  The community calls on Retailers not to discriminate against or boycott any goods, products or suppliers, which would give the message that violence and intimidation work  - an especially troubling situation for Jewish people in the UK.

The leadership also calls upon trade unions to condemn the intimidation of shop staff, many of whom are members of unions such as USDAW. A number of unions have been supporting the protests, which have led to their members being threatened and harassed.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said:

We fully support the freedom of retailers to operate their businesses peacefully and without intimidation, and call upon retailers to act responsibly and avoid the retail environment being used to delegitimise the State of Israel.

Gillian Merron, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said:

Our shops are no place for a political battle ground. As a society we should be bringing communities together. Importing conflict through produce on the shelves will not serve us, nor the prospects of peace for the Israelis or Palestinians.