Swiss supermarket chain labels Israeli products
Starting in 2013, the Migros chain of stores wants to specifically label products that come from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories. “West Bank, Israeli settlement area” should be on the products in the future. The Israeli embassy and Jewish organizations sense an anti-Semitic campaign in the decision.
Migros wants mature customers. That is why they should be able to decide for themselves in future whether they want to buy products from Israeli settlement areas or not. Migros has made avocados, grapefruit and potatoes a political issue. In a press release on May 29, Migros writes that the company deliberately carries some products from Palestinian territories that are populated by Israel, for example from the West Bank or East Jerusalem. According to the UN and the Federal Council, these settlements are – according to Migros – illegal under international law. That is why the company wants to make the origin of these products clearly recognizable in the future. It is not about the boycott of these goods, but about a transparent declaration. The company is currently importing goods worth a total of EUR 13 million from Israel. So far, products such as dates, potatoes, fruits or culinary herbs have been referred to as Israel as the country of origin. The new declaration is to be introduced in mid-2013.
The announcement caused severe criticism. This comes in particular from the Israeli embassy in Bern and the Jewish organizations. While Palestinian groups welcome the labeling, Jewish organizations describe the measure as anti-Semitic. The Israeli embassy in Switzerland strongly rejects the Migros line. Migros is a large and important Swiss retail company, writes the embassy in a statement. The message is now disappointed to see that Migros is participating in an anti-Israel political campaign aimed at blackening Israel and determining the future status of the disputed areas in advance. The measure puts obstacles in the way of the peace process between the two conflicting parties Israel and Palestine.
Migros has already announced that it will hold on to the project despite criticism. The Migros chain of stores was founded in 1925 by Gottlieb Duttweiler as the first major Swiss supermarket. Sales in 2011 were just under CHF 25 billion. Known as a social reformer and pioneer in the field of sustainability, the entrepreneur wanted to create an inexpensive alternative to retail with his shops. From the time the company was founded, Duttweiler also saw himself as having a social responsibility. So neither alcohol nor cigarettes are sold in the shops. He donates one percent of sales to cultural institutions and for charitable purposes.