Non-settlement Israeli fruit exporter faces boycott pressure in Europe

BDS activists protest at stores carrying fruit grown inside the Green Line, hold demonstrations at Mehadrin’s offices

An Israeli agricultural exporter faces stiff opposition from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions activists in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, even though none of its products are produced in the West Bank, Channel 10 reported Thursday.

Mehadrin, which touts itself as “Israel’s largest grower and exporter of citrus, fruits and vegetables,” which distributes its products across Europe, has come under fire simply for being Israeli, the report said. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists have recently campaigned to dissuade customers from buying its products by holding demonstrations outside Mehadrin’s offices, and rallying in stores selling its wares.

Despite the fact that its executives insist that its products are from Israel proper, and not produced at settlements or on land over the Green Line, the demonstrators call for a general boycott of its goods.

The BDS movement promotes blanket boycotts of Israel, not just Israeli settlements, with the stated goal of ending the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and granting a “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees — a position that would mean an influx of millions to Israel, and the end of Israel as a predominantly Jewish state.

Earlier this month, Mehadrin uploaded a video on YouTube showing a compilation of clips from demonstrations calling for a boycott of the company’s goods.

“The products we principally deal with are grown inside the Green Line,” Guy Binstock, CEO of Mehadrin, told Channel 10. The company’s factories are located in Netanya, Ashkelon, the Hula Valley in northern Israel and Netivot, and its orchards in northern and southern Israel.

“The people protesting don’t let facts confuse them,” he said. “To boycott a chain because of its [country of] origin is against the law, but there are chains that don’t want to enter this maelstrom, which occasionally enters the stores themselves.”

Dan Benchabo, manager of Mehadrin in France, related his firsthand experience of such protests to the channel. He said there was a recent demonstration in which dozens of police officers stood guard outside the company’s facilities. “It affected the workers’ feeling of security, and the branches here close when there’s a large protest outside,” he said.

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