I refer to Mr. Zackie Achmat's recent call to legislate that all goods
emanating from Israel's occupied territories be labelled accordingly, as
reported in the September 16 article in the Mail and Guardian
("Move to relabel 'Israeli' goods as bads" by Ilham
Since discrimination contradicts the very basic concept of the new
South Africa, I believe you will ensure that there will be no hint of
discrimination in the proposed legislation and that it will apply equally
to all occupied and disputed territories. For example Northern Cyprus,
(occupied by Turkey), Jammu and Kashmir (disputed between India and
Pakistan), Western Sahara (considered occupied territory by the Polisaro
and the UN), South Ossetia (remember the 2008 South Ossetia war in 2008?)
and the complex situation in Kosovo among many others which the
proposed law will need to embrace.
The legislation will also need to include the labelling of goods produced
in Tibet (occupied by China) as well as Nepal's claim that some of its
territories are being illegally occupied by India, not to mention the
long-standing Kurdish struggle for independence from Turkey.
But far more deserving of drawing the attention of buyers to the origin
of goods produced in disputed territories than the few products produced
in the West Bank are for example, the multiplicity of computers and other
electronic products imported from Taiwan (the Republic of China -
ROC). After all very few buyers know that both mainland China (the Peoples
Republic of China-PRC) and the ROC officially claim each other's
territory. Nor do they know that the PRC refuses to have diplomatic
relations with any nation that recognizes the ROC and when the
Obama administration intended to sell
$6.4 Billion worth of military hardware to the ROC, the PRC threatened
the US with economic sanctions.
And as the proposed labelling law is intended to give
sensitive consumers the opportunity to avoid buying products that are
produced under objectionable conditions, surely it will include
"blood diamonds" from Zimbabwe.
According to a BBC report, an area in Zimbabwe, said to be one of the
world's most significant diamond fields, is a place of torture where
sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of beatings, "They
beat us 40 whips in the morning, 40 in the afternoon and 40 in the
evening," said one man. The company that runs the mine is headed by
a personal friend of President Mugabe. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14377215
And since CNN is currently running a continuous anti-slavery
campaign, the world has become aware of the fact that many products we
buy are made under appalling conditions of forced labor and should be
Why, for example, should we label a product produced in Israel's West
Bank by Jewish and Arab workers who willingly work for living wages but
not a carpet made by 5 year old slaves in Asia?
The Bonded Labor Liberation Front reports that between 200,000 and
300,000 children are involved in the carpet industry in Asia. Surely the
proposed legislation will require these goods be appropriately
Dr. Jacobs, President of the American Anti-Slavery Group in the April
1996 edition of World & I describes how these children work from
toddlerhood to adolescence, from dawn to dusk, in horrid conditions. He
describes a typical example. Five-year-old Santosh, sold into slavery in
India was kept weaving carpets from 4:00 in the morning to 11:00 at
night, every day, without breaks until rescued.
A group headed by Pharis Harvey, director of the International Labor
Rights and Education Fund describes the scene: "Children work in
damp pits near the loom. Potable water is often unavailable and food
consists of a few chapatis [bread balls], onions and salt. Common
practice is to keep the children hungry so they will stay awake and work
longer hours. The children often are made to sleep on the ground next to
their looms, or in nearby sheds. They work from ten to fourteen hours per
I am sure Sir, that you will not allow the proposed legislation to
require labelling only of products from Israel while ignoring those from
real objectionable sources as described above, particularly as such
legislation would resemble discriminatory laws of the hated apartheid
I do not believe that you Sir, would be a party to such a deplorable lack
of balance and judgement that would indicate either serious ignorance of
world affairs or blatant hypocrisy, or both.
I would very much appreciate a considered response.
This open letter is being publicized as will the response I hope to
receive from you.
Move to relabel 'Israeli' goods as bads ILHAM RAWOOT - Sep 16 2011 00:00
Mail and Guardian
\Many supermarket products currently marked "product of
Israel" could soon carry new labels reading "product of illegal
settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories", following talks
between activist Zackie Achmat and Trade and Industry Minister Rob
Achmat and his organisation, Open Shuhada Street, and Davies have agreed
in principle that goods manufactured in occupied territories should be
labelled as such, as labelling them as product of Israel is
Davies told the Mail & Guardian this week: "I'm waiting for a
formal submission and I will apply my mind and decide on the
recommendations. We're persuaded it's in the interest of South African
consumers to know whether their products are coming from Israel or from
the occupied territories."
Achmat argued this week that Israeli settlements in the occupied
territories were illegal under international law and that in terms of the
Geneva Convention the occupying power could not remove resources from the
land it occupied.
"In 2010, the European Court of Justice ruled that products from the
occupied territories cannot be identified as products of Israel," he
Achmat said that he was aware of goods manufactured in the occupied
territories, such as the cosmetics brand, Ahava; technology and soft
drinks, such as the Soda Stream brand, being sold as products of
Ahava products are sold at Wellness Warehouse in Cape Town and at
Foschini stores. Open Shuhada Street has been embroiled in a lengthy
campaign to have them removed from the shelves.
Achmat said that some fruit exported by the company Agrexco, including
plums, tomatoes, dates and figs, was sourced from the occupied
territories and sold as a product of Israel at stores such as Pick n Pay
It is understood that many kosher products, including halva and gherkins,
sold at Pick n Pay and Spar, fall into the same category.
Achmat said that, although there would be an attempt to stop the
relabelling process, the law was very clear that it had to
"There are even some Israelis who don't buy goods that come from the
settlements. This gives people a choice: some people won't buy Israeli
products at all, while others won't buy settlement products if they know
where they come from, as they involve a clear violation of international
The next step in the relabelling process would be for Davies to receive
the final draft notice from his department. Achmat said this had already
been seen and approved by the International Trade Administration of South
The notice, providing for a three-month period of public consultation and
comment, would then be published in the Government Gazette.
The final step would be the issuing of a trade-description notice
prescribing a change in the labels.
Achmat said that since the goods were labelled in Israel and not South
Africa, Israeli suppliers might not want to follow the new requirement.
As a result, "settlement products will probably become
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