We are Israeli citizens, opposed to our government's policies of racism, occupation and apartheid. We were surprised to learn that the French government is giving high-profile backing to an Israeli company that profits from settlements built on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in violation of international law.
This month, Israel’s biggest supermarket chain Shufersal is sponsoring
"So French So Food - a festival of scents and flavors from France”. The event is co-organized by the Institut Français, the French government’s cultural arm, and Shufersal. It is also sponsored by the city of Toulouse. Shufersal’s marketing materials and store displays for “So French So Food” state that the campaign is “in partnership with the Embassy of France”.
Shufersal lists store locations in the West Bank settlements of Ariel, Maaleh-Adumim, Gilo and in the Gush Etzion bloc. We ourselves have just visited these branches in an illegal Israeli settlement, and have verified this.
Moreover, according to the research group Who Profits, Yesh, one of Shufersal’s convenience store chains, has branches in a number of other settlements.
Furthermore, Shufersal also distributes products manufactured in West Bank settlements under its own brand. These include goods from the settlements of Imanuel, Mishor-Adumim, and the Barkan Industrial Zone. In May 2015, Shufersal launched its own line of branded dairy products manufactured in a settlement in Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, according to Who Profits.
By backing this initiative, the French government is endorsing and boosting the profits of a company that operates extensively in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights.
For almost 68 years, successive Israeli governments have implemented policies based on ethnic discrimination and supremacism. The state of Israel has stolen most of the land belonging to Palestinians citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948. The Israeli government has established a brutal apartheid system in the West Bank. Under this system, privileged Israeli citizens are
living in illegal Israeli settlements, while millions of Palestinians are denied the most basic human rights.
A French official has issued a comment to The Electronic Intifada (1), that the “partnership between the French embassy in Israel and Shufersal exclusively concerns the promotion, in Israel, of French products and of our gastronomy, on the occasion of the French gastronomy week...It certainly does not constitute a support of colonization, a subject on which the French position is clear and constant,”
This policy is extremely hypocritical. Once again, the French government is practicing dishonesty in its treatment of Israeli occupation and apartheid. While seemingly claiming to support international law and human rights, the French government legitimizes the racist regime in Israel, and specifically Israel's colonization of the West Bank and its settlement construction policies. In 2014, France warned its citizens and companies against doing business with Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The government said that firms could face legal action tied to “land, water, mineral and other natural resources” as well as “reputational risks”. How can this warning be reconciled with the French government involvement in the current "So French So Food" Festival?
In a landmark report last month, Human Rights Watch called on all corporations to completely end their business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem. The French government seems to have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, and more and more people across the world are taking note of this.
Finally, we cannot but mention the grotesque attempts by the French government to silence courageous and conscientious French citizens, who are speaking up for Palestinian human rights. We are following the political developments in France, and we stand in full solidarity with the aforementioned French activists.
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within
(Israeli citizens for BDS)