Slovenian chain succumbs to BDS, pulls Israeli fruits

Jewish state fears boycott will spread to Mercator supermarket branches in other Balkan countries

Lee Gancman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Slovenia’s largest supermarket chain has succumbed to pressure from the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and pulled Israeli produce off its shelves, the Ynet news website reported Tuesday.

The Israeli produce carried by the Mercator chain consisted largely of citrus fruits, avocados and dates.

The decision marks a fresh victory for the BDS movement, which seeks to isolate and delegitimize Israel internationally.

According to the report, Jerusalem summoned Slovenian Ambassador Barbara Susnik to the Foreign Ministry, where senior officials notified her of the gravity of the move.

Mercator logo
Mercator logo

For his part, Israeli Ambassador to Slovenia Shmuel Merom is expected to bring up the issue with Ljubljana and the management of Mercator.

The chain reportedly tried to pull Jaffa-branded Israeli grapefruits in 2014 under pressure from BDS activists, but backtracked after heavy pressure from Jerusalem and local allies.

The Embassy of Slovenia to Israel told The Times of Israel this week that “there is no boycott of Israeli products in Slovenia.”

“The EU-Israel Association Agreement is the basis for Israel’s special status also in relations with Slovenia. Since 2014 the Slovenian Government has no shares in the Mercator chain. The relations between Israel and Slovenia are traditionally good and marked by diversified cooperation, particularly in the fields of the economy, science, research, high technologies and tourism,” said an embassy spokesman.

Israel, however, is now concerned that the ban will spread to other countries in which Mercator operates, including Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia.

In November, Berlin’s largest department store removed several Israeli goods from its shelves following a European Union rule outlawing “Made in Israel” tags on products made in the West Bank or Golan Heights.

KaDeWe, Germany's largest department store, Berlin (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, Beek100)
KaDeWe, Germany’s largest department store, Berlin (Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, Beek100)

A spokesperson for KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) clarified, however, that the goods would once again be sold by the store after they were labeled in accordance with the new EU guidelines.

Luxembourg’s largest supermarket chain, Cactus, also ceased the sale of Israeli produce last summer, following pressure by pro-Palestinian groups but said that they would be reinstated once the supplier proved they were not from the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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