Concern over Dis-Chem CEO’s Response to Customer
Monday, 19 December 2011
The Media Review Network (MRN) and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) find it deplorable and completely unacceptable that Dis-Chem’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ivan Saltzman, seeks to justify its business ties with Israel by comparing Israel’s human rights violations with violations in other Middle Eastern Countries. It is appalling that his attempted justification flies in the face of large sections of international civic organisations who have embarked on a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, to secure the end of Israeli occupation and the freedom of the Palestinian people.
Zaakir Ahmed Mayet – Media Review Network (Media Unit) and Nabeweya Malick – Muslim Judicial Council (Media Desk)
For further information contact:
Ibrahim Vawda – Senior Researcher, Media Review Network
Tel: 012 374 6987
Cell: 072 295 0088
Please find below the correspondence between Fathima Moosa, Ivan Saltzman’s reply and our open letter to Saltzman.
Fathima’s Note to Dis-Chem Online:
I am very disappointed by your response.
Please forward this mail to your director, whom I believe is a caring individual. ( I am formerly from Pretoria, and I know that he does a lot of charity).
It is very easy for us to rise to the defense of those who are from our brethren, but the nobler response is to do what’s right, even if its the unpopular choice.
The jews of many organisations nationally and internationally have nobly and amazingly distanced themselves from the israeli regime, and have been at the forefront of the call for sanctions against Israel, because of their racist and inhumane policies.
Please google, “nkusa”, “young jewish and proud”, “rabbis against Israel”, Ronnie Kasrils: “not in my name”.
Among all these voices, are Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and many Israeli MPs who urge the world to end the madness.
I hope and trust that your good judgement and commitment to the values enshrined in the Torah, allow you to make the right decision.
Happy is the man who renounces everything that puts a strain on his conscience.
After all, we are all the children of Abraham.
Ivan Saltzman’s Response to Fathima:
Dear Fatima Moosa
I will begin by answering your likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations to Hitler’s Nazism, a scurrilous slur that you have clear chosen to employ in order to give maximum offense. I think you well know that the crimes of the Nazi regime involved the deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians, largely Jews, as 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. Palestinian (or for that matter Lebanese) casualties have been atiny fraction of what they would have been if Israel had truly adopted aNazi-like extermination policy, given the massive military capability it has at its disposal.
In fact, it is very easy to identify the true modern-day Nazis in the Middle East. They are found in the ranks of such murderous extremist groupings as Hamas, Hezbollah 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. Have you ever thought what the consequences would be if Israel were to adopt the same kind of tactics against the Palestinian population? Mass slaughter would indeed ensue, but fortunately Israel, no matter what the provocation, has not nor will not ever stoop to such depths.
So far as your stated intention of boycotting Dis-Chem goes, that is obviously your decision. After all, we do live in a free country. 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 South Africa 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.
You may not have noticed the crisis in the Arab world, “Arab Spring” which now is in Winter with no end in sight. To the best of my knowledgethis over human rights but then I have an HD TV which you are probably boycotting. The cheapness of life in Somalia and Sudan is perpetrated bypeople who you are strongly affiliated to. You obviously don’t know what the racism of Hitler differs very little to Israel’s enemies. Both want the destruction of the Jewish people.
I believe I had to answer your “complaint”. I will continue to sell DeadSea products from Israel. You know the Dead Sea has two shores. I wonder why the Jordanians or Palestinians (most come from Jordan) do notwant to share this wonderful natural resource of the Dead Sea.
I will not respond to any further correspondence on your subject.
IVAN SALTZMAN | CHIEF EXCECUTIVE OFFICER23 Stag Rd, Allandale, Midrand, South Africa(011) 589-2208 email@example.com
Media Review Network/Muslim Judicial Council Response to Ivan Saltzman:
To: Ivan Saltzman
The response delivered by yourself to a customer regarding the stocking of Israeli products. Your personal response sought to take objection to the customer’s comparison of Hitler’s Nazism to the conduct of the Israeli state. It is from this point that is would seem fitting to proceed.
As per the above, you deny that the Israeli state has behaved in a manner that resembled Hitler’s Nazism. Your response proceeded to defineNazism as per your understanding and it is this definition that we willuse to test Israel’s behaviour. You have stated that the Nazi regime was defined by (1) “deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians” and(2) “as a matter of planned policy”.
Let’s begin with the first element i.e. “deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians”. It would be logical to agree that the core of this element is the deliberate mass murder of civilians and not the numbers per say. If the sole criterion was based on numbers a regime that adopted a Nazi policy yet only murdered 800 000 would fall short ofbeing called a Nazi state. Therefore logic dictates that the crux of this element rests in the deliberate mass murder of civilians.
There are three elements that can be further distilled from the first definitional point. These are (a) deliberate (b) mass murder and (c) civilians. In order for one to test these elements one should look at the most recent and striking act of aggression. This presents itself in the occurrences towards the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 entitled by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) as operation Cast Lead. The choice of this event for application is supported by the extensive information on the36that occurred between 27 December 2008 and 18th January 2009 as well as36that preceded it by credible sourcesthat include but are not limited to internationally recognised human rights organisations.
The first question that we have to ask is whether the attack on Gaza wasdeliberate and the existence of valid grounds for Cast Lead. It was putforward that Israel had no choice but to attack ‘Hamas’ due to 12 000 rockets over 8 years and according to the Israeli Foreign Affairs website Israel had “exhausted all other options” before conducting Cast Lead. Prima Facie it would appear that Israel would not fulfil the (a) deliberate requirement, however upon closer inspection the contrary becomes very clear.
On the 17th June 2008 Hamas and Israel entered into a cease fire with the condition at its most basic being: stop rockets and easing of the siege. The same Official Israeli Foreign Website on the 4th November 2008 Israel broke the ceasefire by killing 7 or 8 Hamas members. The report goes on to state that it was at this point that Hamas “retaliated”. Once again the website states “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire entered into in June 2008” and proceeds to state ‘the lull was sporadically violated by rockets and mortar shells carriedout by rogue terrorist organisations. At the same time Hamas tried to enforce the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organisations and Hamas tried to prevent them from violating it.’ What becomes evident from the Israeli version of36is that it was Hamas that was upholding the agreement but Israel broke the ceasefire. Therefore the argument that Israel had no option but to conduct Cast Lead is false as Israel violated the ceasefire of the 4th November. In fact that ceasefire would have continued to ensure peace as the Head of Shin Beth stated that Hamas was interested in renewing the ceasefire. Strangely it is those whom you have labelled the “modern-day Nazis in the Middle East” who are the ones abiding by the ceasefire agreement andIsrael, whom you claim is innocent of Nazi-like behaviour is the one who violated the ceasefire by their own account. Therefore it has been proved that there was no legitimate reason for the attack on Gaza as Israel was the architect of the rocket attacks by rejecting the ceasefire and violating it. Operation Cast Lead is therefore a deliberate attack with no legitimate reason to support the action.
This conclusion becomes even clearer when one considers the statements of Israelis in authoritative positions with regard to Cast Lead. A perfect example of this is the statements of the then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who said “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded”. It can therefore unequivocally be concluded that the attack on Gaza know as Cast Lead was arbitrary and deliberate as evidenced by the preceding information and statements.
The second element of (b) mass murder now requires our attention. According to the Dugard Report entitled No Safe Place over 1400 Palestinians were killed during the 22 day offensive. This figure is co-witnessed in the Fact Finding Mission headed by Professor Richard Goldstone as well as reports by Amnesty International to name a few. According to the defence site global security 13 Israelis were killed during Cast Lead, 10 soldiers and 3 civilians. If one would reduce theselives to ratios the killing ration of Israeli during Cast Lead was over100 Palestinians to 1 Israeli. To any sane person this would indeed classify as mass murder. Killing entire families such as the Samouni family of which 21 members of the same family were killed. It would be an affront to logic to deny that this was not mass murder.
If one were to be fickle enough to question whether this would be murderone should look at the legal definition of murder. It is defined as the“unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse”. The attacking of densely populated areas within Gaza as well asthe targeting of civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools, mosques, hospitals and even UN facilities leads one to the conclusion ofmurder. This is due to the fact that the laws of war, which Israel boasted to abide by, states that no civilians nor civilian infrastructure should be targeted. Israel destroyed 3500 homes accordingto B’Tselem and some analysts even place the number higher at approximately 6000. There is no doubt that Israel attacked civilian targets and as a result civilians, mainly women and children, were murdered. According to Geneva Conventions killing of civilians is a war crime and cannot be justified in any manner or form. According to the Goldstone Report it states “the Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons…”.
It is once again clear from the above that Israel murdered the over 1400Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom were civilians and women and children. The murder of Palestinians in a ratio of over 100:1 is obviously mass and the fact that most of those killed were civilians in Gaza results in the finding of murder as they were protected people by the Geneva convention. This finding is attested to in the Goldstone report, the Dugard Report as well as the Amnesty International Report entitled ISRAEL/GAZA – OPERATION ‘CAST LEAD’: 22 DAYS OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION to name a few.
This takes us to the final point (c) civilians that has already been extensively been addressed during the elaboration of points (a) and (b).However it can be added that all reports by reputable Human Rights organisations such as B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International as well as report such as the Goldstone Report, the DugardReport as well as many others. All have classified Israel’s conduct a war crime and the Goldstone Report goes as far as to suggest that it mayeven classify as a crime against humanity.
Finally we are to consider (2) “as a matter of planned policy” of your definitional requirements. This is best evidenced by the statements of high ranking Israeli officials. Once again we refer to Tzipi Livni’s statement: “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded”. The use of the words ‘I demanded’ indicates that it was a policy and a directive during Cast Lead. During the invasion of Lebanon in 2006 Israel began employing a policy known as the Dahieh principle that entailed the wanton destruction and damage and by implication the use of disproportionate force resulting in murder. The most telling statement on the36in Gaza comes from IDF Northern Commander Gadi Eizenkot. Eizenkot stated that “What happened in Beirut’s Dahieh neighbourhood in 2006 will happento every [Gaza] village from where missiles are fired. We will employ disproportionate force and we will cause immense destruction and immensedamage. From our point of view, these villages are not civilian villages, rather military bases. I am not speaking about a recommendation, this is a plan that has received approval.” One should take note of two very important words i.e. ‘civilian’ and secondly ‘plan’. The Breaking the Silence Report was compiled with the testimonies of IDF soldiers who participated in Cast Lead. Under the heading Briefing, which is the communication of combat policy for that operation, the soldiers stated the following: “…I heard our brigade commander at least once, when sitting with us during maneuvers for a combatants’ talk around the campfire at Tze’elim at night – he happened to join us and we asked him what was going on in Gaza and what was to beexpected, stuff like that, and he went so far as to say this was war and in war as in war, no consideration of civilians was to be taken. Youshoot anyone you see.”
Based on the statements above it is evident that the policy of disproportionate force against civilian infrastructure and the inevitably resulting in civilian deaths as well as direct commands to disregard civilians and shoot anyone they see was present during Cast Lead. Therefore we see once again that Israel has fulfilled your definitional requirement.
The above has proved, based on your own definition of Hitler’s Nazism, that Israel employed Nazism during Cast Lead. It has been proven that Israel, as a matter of policy, murders Palestinians on mass and this conclusion has been supported by various authorities. This finding by your standards would be Nazism. It is this same conclusion that your customer discovered and it seems preposterous to deny the above proof via your own test.
With regard to your points on the great contributions of Israel to the world, it seems strange coincidence that four of your six examples appear in a YouTube video entitled So You Want To Boycott Israel. I sincerely hope that this was merely a coincidence and not your source asYouTube fall short of being a legitimate source and the video itself istainted with inaccuracies. That being said we shall assume that your examples are correct and this draws us to two vital points. The first being that even if your examples are correct, it should never be used tojustify what you would call Nazi behaviour that Israel has employed in Gaza and continues to employ. The fact that Apartheid South Africa was amassive gold producer and a lot of its gold backed foreign currencies could not have been used to shield it from the worldwide boycott campaign; similarly Israel should not be shielded due to its contributions. When a state behaves in a manner such as the Apartheid state of Israel has, it cannot be legitimised nor can it be supported and hence the boycott movement arises. The second point is that the boycott movements, as I’m sure you are aware, begin with selected products and eventually evolve into a fully developed, all encompassing boycott. I find myself agreeing with you that all Israeli products should be boycotted in order to develop an effective boycott. However every step towards that end goal is a step in the right directions and therefore the first step is to start boycotting the Israeli products youcontinue to keep on your shelves. It is most disturbing that you make oblique references to Palestinians as Jordanians and Lebanese echoing the statement of Golda Meir that there is no Palestinian people. The most disturbing part however is that this thought is divorced from reality and oblivious of the UNESCO vote recognising Palestinians as a people and the UN statehood vote.
In conclusion the best word of wisdom that I can offer on closing this response is the following: we should not be naïve to try and wish the Palestinians away nor can we deny their existence. We cannot defend an Apartheid Israeli state that behave in a Nazi-like manner (as per your definition) towards an occupied people. Lastly we cannot use contribution as a trading card to legitimise the mass murder and in the words of the Hareetz correspondent Gideon Levy, ‘ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people’. What we should agree on is the solution and that isfound in international law. However, until Israel complies with international law, the world of conscience will continue to boycott product at a time and condemn Israel’s Nazi-like behaviour.
Zaakir Ahmed Mayet – Media Review Network