Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trader Joe's grocery store is urged to "stop carrying Israeli products or products manufactured in Israel"

Part of the National Day to De-Shelve Israeli products.

Check out the event page on Facebook

June 6, 2009

Don Bane, Chairman and CEO Doug Rauch, President Charles J. Pilliter, SVP Operations Trader Joe’s Main Headquarters 800 S. Shamrock Ave. Monrovia, CA 91016

Dear Mr. Bane, Mr. Rauch and Mr. Pilliter,

As people of conscience, we believe that business corporations need to uphold ethical standards that are consistent with the principles of human rights and support of justice and equality, locally and globally. Trader Joe’s is a company with a reputation for bringing foods from around the world to offer U.S. customers the chance to enjoy a diversity of products. In doing so, however, we think that Trader Joe’s should not be complicit in promoting occupation, ethnic cleansing, massacres, and apartheid.

We ask that you stop carrying Israeli products or products manufactured in Israel that are distributed in the U.S. (for example, “Israeli Couscous”). We are part of a growing international movement of ordinary people from around the world, from Ireland and France to Norway and Canada, that does not want to buy consumer products that help fund an economy based on illegal occupation and apartheid.

We have been dismayed to see that Trader Joe’s is still selling Israeli products, despite the international outcry against the Israeli massacre in Gaza this winter. In addition, the names of products such as “Israeli Couscous” are offensive as they allow a state that was created sixty years ago, through dispossession and illegal occupation, to claim a type of couscous that was traditionally produced by Palestinians and other Arabs for generations. This is racist advertising for cultural theft and does not befit a store that wishes to promote diversity, equality, or sustainability.

We are writing to ask you to not carry Israeli products for the following key reasons, among others:

1. Israel engages in the oppression of Palestinians and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people, including the continued theft of Palestinian land for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and construction of the Segregation Wall (see,, for information about these violations of international law).

2. Israel has violated over 80 resolutions of the United Nations, including Resolution 194, which affirms the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and Resolution 242, which called for an immediate end to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967.

3. Israel has recently committed war crimes in Gaza, killing over 1,400 civilians in indiscriminate air strikes, including at least 400 children, and using a banned chemical weapon (white phosphorous) against civilians in heavily populated areas.

4. More than 20 Israeli state laws discriminate against non-Jews, restricting their rights to own property, hold citizenship, move freely, and participate in elections. Bishop Desmond Tutu and former South African President Nelson Mandela, as well as the Jewish South African Ronnie Kasrils, have all stated that Israeli law and oppression of the Palestinian people is comparable to the South African system of apartheid.

5. Israel’s appropriation of land and resources has also done irreparable harm to the environment, for example, through mass uprooting of ancient olive trees, theft of water, building of settlements, expansion of the wall cutting through farms, and destruction of traditional ways of life that had sustained the environment for centuries through indigenous knowledge.

Palestinians have called on the global community to engage in boycott and divestment, an effective non-violent strategy helped end South African apartheid. In 2005, a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society groups issued a call for the international community to stand up against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and discriminatory laws by participating in a consumer boycott of Israeli goods and services. The boycott puts pressure on Israeli companies whose exports are linked to some of the most obvious aspects of Israeli occupation and apartheid.

The call of the Palestinian movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions states:

“We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

“These non-violent principled measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;

2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”

For full text of the call and more information, see

We know that Trader Joe’s carries Israeli Couscous and Pastures of Eden Feta cheese, both produced in Israel. However, we also believe that other products carried under Trader Joe’s private label may be repackaged Israeli products.

As conscientious people and customers of Trader Joe’s, we urge you to de-shelve Israeli products, at least until Israel meets its obligations under international law. **


Yasmin Qureshi, San Jose, CA

Endorsed by:

South Bay Mobilization


Email me at yfatimah [at] if you would like to sign and/or have your organization endorse it latest by June 5, 10 pm PST. We will be mailing the letter on June 6. Please forward to others who might be interested in signing too.

Everyone is encouraged to do a follow up action at a store in their area on June 20, World Refugee Day which is also being observed as National Day to De-Shelve Israeli products. Check out the event page on Facebook