Swiss Jews slam supermarket boycott of settlement products

Jewish leaders say decision “purely political,” singling out Israel and not boycotting goods from other countries where human rights violations are taking place.

MIGROS 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)
BERLIN – Swiss-Jewish organizations sharply criticized last week a full-page advertisement in the Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung promoting the Migros supermarket’s decision to boycott products from Israeli settlements.
A Swiss Protestant aid organization sponsored the ad and urged readers to support the boycott.
In a letter to Claude Ruey, the president of the Zurich-based aid organization of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland (HEKS), Swiss-Jewish leaders wrote, “We protest this discrimination against the State of Israel and are disappointed that the HEKS as a recognized aid organization fosters anti-Israel sentiments, which have a direct effect on us Jews in Switzerland.”
The letter to Ruey was signed by Dr. Herbert Winter, Nicole Poëll and Gabrielle Rosenstein.
The Jewish leaders added that the decision is “purely political,” singling out Israel and not boycotting goods sold in Migros from other countries where human rights violations are taking place.
The Berlin-based office of the American Jewish Committee said in a statement last week, that the “AJC has raised concern about the European relationship to Israel, given the growing number of boycott and BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] campaigns targeting Israel in Europe. In recent days, the large Swiss supermarket co-op Migros began labeling products originating in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, while the German branch of the church-based peace organisation Pax Christi launched its ‘Occupation Tastes Bitter’ boycott campaign against Israeli products.”
Deidre Berger, director of AJC Berlin’s Ramer Institute for German- Jewish Relations, said, “Boycott campaigns that target Israel hinder rather than promote peace. Organizations that promote boycotts against democracies instead of censures for autocracies discredit themselves.”
She added that “At the recent annual meeting of Deutsche Bank shareholders, Pax Christi officials called on the bank to divest from Israeli companies with business interests in the occupied territories.”
In Friday’s Berlin daily B.Z., the popular columnist Gunnar Schupelius critized Berlin Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki for remaining silent about the Pax Christi boycott. Woelki told B.Z.
that he will not “assess” the Pax Christi boycott against Israeli products. Critics in Germany told The Jerusalem Post last week that Pax Christi is steeped in anti-Semitism.
According to an article in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Israel’s Embassy in Bern condemned the boycott as a one-sided “political action” and part of a “campaign.”