Morton Williams, a Jewish family-owned food retailer with 12 supermarkets in the New York metropolitan area, has announced that it is boycotting all Turkish food products in response to a Turkish boycott of Israeli products.
Customers at the company may have noticed that items such as Turkish olive oil, dried figs and apricots, stuffed grape leaves, balsamic vinegar, marinated peppers, hazelnut spread, and a variety of snacks and cookies aren’t available on the store shelves.
According to Morton Williams co-owners Steven Sloan and Avi Kaner, many of their patrons don’t seem to be missing the foods.
“We’ve been getting messages of support from New York and around the country and the world,” Kaner told The Times of Israel. “We’ve received tens of emails today alone, and 90 percent of them are positive.”
“People are thanking us for standing up for Israel and are loving what we are doing,” added Sloan.
The third-generation co-owners, who closely follow the news from Israel and are in touch with Israeli relatives, made the decision on Tuesday to boycott Turkish food products after hearing that municipalities across Turkey had ordered a boycott on Israeli products.
Sloan said they knew they had to take action when they heard that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had compared Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in Gaza to Nazi atrocities.
“They curse Hitler morning and night,” Erdogan said in a speech in front of thousands of supporters. “However, now their barbarism has surpassed even that of Hitler.”
“It’s complete outrageousness,” Sloan remarked about Erdogan’s accusation. “And it was Hamas that started all this with its shooting rockets into Israel.”
“We were really affected by the virulent anti-Semitism and the incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis coming out of Turkey,” explained Kaner, whose parents grew up in Israel.
‘We’ve never been political before’
This is the first time that Morton Williams has launched a boycott in its nearly 70-year history. “We’ve never been political before,” claimed Sloan.
As the only shareholders in the company, they were able to freely act according to their conscience.
“Our decisions are driven not only by bottom-line considerations, but also by morals and ethics. We knew this was the right thing to do,” said Kaner.
According to the co-owners, they have found support among their suppliers of Turkish food products.
“We communicated with each of the distributors before we announced the boycott. They’ve all been understanding, and one even applauded us for doing this,” Kaner proclaimed.
Kaner was quick to note that they are still doing business with Turkish-American suppliers who sell products made in the United States.
“Besides the fact that we believe we are doing the right thing to counter Turkish anti-Semitism, we are hoping that our boycott will boost the morale of all the Israeli citizens who are sitting in bomb shelters trying to protect themselves from Hamas rockets,” added Kaner.