Fury over store’s kosher food removal
Outrage expressed after the Sainsbury’s branch in Holborn caves into anti-Israel protesters.
The branch manager of the central London store ordered the section to be emptied on Saturday afternoon, while protesters outside picketed it calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. The move prompted outrage after a photo of the empty shelves was posted on social media.
Colin Appleby, an actor and producer, took a picture of the empty shelves and posted it on his Facebook page. He said the kosher section contained food made in the UK, Poland and Israel, adding that a staff member defended the decision, saying:
We support Free Gaza.
Later Appleby was accused on Twitter of:
Louise Mensch, the former Tory MP, accused Sainsbury’s of racism, writing on Twitter, said:
• Dear @Sainsburys kosher is JEWISH food. Israel is a COUNTRY. How DARE YOU equate Jews’ food to ISRAEL, how dare you #EverydayAntisemitism.
• @Sainsbury’s are the scum of the earth as a company for taking away kosher food rather than contacting police. Evil racism from them.
• Racism outside the @Sainsburys store, racism inside the @sainsburys store, nothing but #EverydayAntisemitism involved in removal kosher food.
A complaint to Sainsbury’s by Facebook user Gavin Platman said the move blurred the line between a political statement and a hate crime. He wrote:
I presume you are aware that Kosher food is produced in countries other than Israel? You are therefore not making a political statement against Israel but instead are targeting a group based on race – ie Jews.
As a Jew I find this deeply offensive. Naturally I am against the death of innocent children in Gaza, so why are you persecuting me by denying me the right to buy Kosher food?
I presume you are also removing Halal food in protest against the Islamic State slaughtering Yazidis. Clearly not – therefore you have blurred the line between political statement and hate crime.
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said it was “an absolutely non-political organisation” and said the food was returned to the shelves:
As soon as was practically possible.
It was an isolated decision made by in a very challenging situation. It was chilled food and he was simply trying to preserve it.
She denied the decision was racist and said that there would be no investigation or action taken against the branch manager.
It was the manager’s decision there and then – not company policy at all. We have had similar demonstrations at stores where people have gone in and removed goods, though no great damage was done. A decision was taken by a store manager faced with a challenging situation outside the store.
In a separate Free Gaza protest in Birmingham on Saturday, police arrested a man after a group waving Palestinian flags burst into a Tesco store and threw produce on the ground. The Hodge Hill Tesco branch was forced to close for a few minutes. West Midlands police tweeted:
Protest was largely peaceful among the 100 protesters but some began throwing stock inside Tesco store. Two escorted from premises.
Meanwhile, from Israel comes news that four far-right Jewish protesters were arrested at a protest mounted against a wedding couple yesterday. The bride was a convert to Islam, and the groom an Arab Muslim.
Several hundred demonstrators rallied outside the reception hall in Rishon LeZion, amid high security.
The groom, Mahmoud Mansour, had sought a court order to try to stop the protest from taking place but failed. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin condemned the demonstrations against the couple’s union. Rivlin has been quoted by Israeli media describing the Lehava demonstrators as
Rodents gnawing under the shared democratic and Jewish foundation of Israel.
Supporters of the far-right Jewish Lehava group, who oppose the intermarriage of Arab Muslims and Jews, were granted permission to picket the wedding as long as they did not come within 200 metres of the wedding hall.
But four protesters were arrested for failing to follow police instructions.
A counter-demonstration of left-wing protesters, above, was also staged in support of the couple’s marriage, with hundreds of police deployed to keep the two sets of demonstrators apart.
The bride, Morel Malka, and her husband invited 500 guests to celebrate their marriage on Sunday. Ms Malka, 23, had converted to Islam ahead of the ceremony.
Mr Mansour, 26, told Israel’s Channel 2 ahead of the wedding:
We live in true coexistence, and I don’t really care what people say.
Hat tip: Ivan Bailey (Sainsbury’s), Trevor Blake (slaughter of Yazidis link) and BarrieJohn (wedding report)