UK Jews object to report targeting kosher stores for stocking settlement goods

However, Dutch research company rep tells 'Post' report only used material available from open sources.

ofra 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ofra 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A number of Jewish community organizations have expressed concern over the publication of a report that appears to target a number of kosher stores for allegedly stocking produce that originates from the West Bank. Entitled "UK economic links with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory," the report was published by a Dutch research company called Profundo Research, which claims as its mission statement to "help to research financial and trade relations, to document corporate irresponsible behavior and to identify sustainable solutions." The 68-page report was commissioned by the Hotung Program for Law, Human Rights and Peace Building in the Middle East at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). On Wednesday, the Fair Play Campaign Group (FPCG), a community organization set up to oppose boycott calls against Israel, accused the publication of targeting kosher shops in Britain. The FPCG said it lists the names and addresses of four kosher food retailers in the UK, claiming that these stores stock produce that might be produced in the West Bank. "Although hundreds of small independent retailers stock these goods, these shops are not included; small kosher shops are disproportionately targeted alongside the major supermarkets," a FPCG spokesman said. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) also questioned the report. "Kosher shops are disproportionately targeted by this sinister and misleading report," Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the board, said. "SOAS should never have paid a Dutch company to write what is effectively a handbook for boycotting Israeli and Jewish companies." "We warned the government that promoting sanctions against 'settlement goods' would encourage those pressing for a full boycott of Israel - this confirms our fears," Jeremy Newmark, JLC chief executive, said. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Jan Willem van Gelder from Profundo Research said the report only used material available from open sources. "The report we did gives an overview of all information we could find in literature and Internet sources on UK business links with the settlements. Together with SOAS we have contacted all companies mentioned in the report - including the kosher stores - giving them the opportunity to correct any mistakes," he said. However he added: "I would like to encourage consumers, journalists and other stakeholders to use the information in the report as a basis for questions to suppliers, supermarkets and other companies about their possible business relationships with the settlements." Asked if the report singles out the kosher stores, he said that the report attempts to identify as many UK companies as possible that "support the expansion of settlements in the occupied territories."