2 October 2014
The Chief Executive Officer
PO Box 680
Cc Woolworths Board Members
Re: Woolworths Boycott because of Israeli trade
The National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), a coalition of about 40 organisations representing various political formations, trade unions, religious groups and NGOs, now addresses this open letter to you
about your trade relationship with Israel. We do so as fellow South Africans, who are concerned that you do not seem to understand the history of our own struggle in South Africa and the way in which citizens and businesses across the world supported us in OUR struggle against apartheid, despite the fact that THEIR governments continued relationships with apartheid South Africa until it had no other choice. Either you do not know that this is what happened, or you prefer selective amnesia to consciousness.
On 9 August, almost 200 000 people marched peacefully in Cape Town to demand that South Africa cuts ties with the state of Israel, a state that recently stole even more Palestinian land. This latest act of landgrabbing was even condemned by its closest ally, the USA. In the weeks before and after the 9 August mass march, several other marches took place throughout the country in which tens of thousands of South Africans participated.
As the 9 August march passed the Woolworths headquarters, we called on Woolworths to stop its trade with Israel, which has now perfected a system of apartheid. We are sure that you will agree that the killing of so many Palestinian civilians – women and children – and the continued land-grabbing are surely things that need to be censured by the citizens of this globe. Or hopefully you will agree with
former President Mandela who said that “our freedom as South Africans is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people”.
To say that you are not breaking any laws or regulations and that you wish to allow people to make their own choices are surely disingenuous as you know that this is about taking a moral and ethical stand in order to obtain justice for a people who are all effectively imprisoned. There are many Israeli and Jewish people across the world – and even in Israel- who denounce these actions of Apartheid Israel and we hope that you will find it within yourself to get on the right side of history and join these courageous individuals and groups as they face severe censure from within their own community for taking this moral stand. Surely you know how white South Africans who stood against apartheid were treated by their own community? Multiply this several times and you will understand the situation that these courageous groups and individuals face today.
Instead of dialoguing about this matter, you have chosen to engage in some tactics. We wish to let you know that these tactics will not deter us from strengthening the boycott of Woolworths and calling on our activists to intensify the boycott. For the moment, we will not focus on any other retailers. Surely it is irresponsible to destroy your brand? Surely it should bother you that we can intensify our non-violent actions no matter how long it takes? We are in discussions about other tactics and strategies that we will now begin to employ but we would want you to spend some time reflecting on whether you wish to
continue to support trade, however miniscule, with a country that has followed every trick in the book to delay justice for the Palestinian people while stealing more and more of their lands.
We hope and trust that we do not have to write another letter to you about this matter. We are open to meeting with you in order to find the most amicable way to resolve this matter.
We trust that your reflections will bear much fruit.
Rev E.L. Arrison (Chairperson of the NC4P)
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