Global flotilla hits NY chocolate shopby Alex Kane 

May 29, 2010

brennerAs the “Freedom Flotilla” steams toward Gaza City in an attempt to break Israel’s crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip, activists in New York City continue to stage protests calling attention to the fleet of ships and the situation in Gaza.
In New York, six Palestine solidarity activists dropped a banner yesterday inside of the Union Square branch of Israeli chocolate shop Max Brenner that read, “Siege on Gaza Isn’t Sweet: Boycott Brenner.” [photo above]
Here’s the report from New York City Indymedia:

Israel has refused to allow chocolate and sweets, among many other commonplace items, into Gaza, claiming that they present a security threat. Max Brenner is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Strauss Group, Israel’s second-largest food conglomerate, and boasts on its web page of its support and “adoption” of the Golani and Givaati Brigades of the Israeli army. Both the Golani and the Givaati Brigades have historically been associated with numerous violations of human rights.
”We know the chocolate ban is not the most egregious human rights violation,” said banner-dropper Niomke Friedman. “But it illustrates the absurdity of Israel’s claim that the brutal siege on Gaza serves a legitimate security claim.”
The action was part of a wave of solidarity actions taking place around the US and throughout the world as the Free Gaza Coalition’s flotilla of eight boats bearing thousands of tons of eight and over 800 civilian sails toward Gaza. Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak has stated that the Israeli navy will block entry, reinforcing Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza’s waters.
As part of Israel’s brutal three-year long siege on Gaza, many basic items have been denied to Palestinians including canned fruit, jam, and chocolate.
During Israel’s recent massacre in Gaza, a Ha’aretz article reported that the Golani platoon operated “in the sector in which the [Israel Defence Force] has seen the toughest battles with Hamas, the eastern part of Gaza City”. They have also been implicated in massacres in the Jenin and Tul Karm refugee camps and the siege on Yasser Arafat’s Muqata compound in Ramallah.

The Israeli daily Haaretz has a report on the Max Brenner action. You can also view a video of the action here.
The banner drop follows a May 27 action in New York that saw over 100 people take to the streets to demand that the flotilla have safe passage to Gaza to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and to call on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.
Palestine solidarity activists in New York have planned a march for Tuesday, June 1 “in the event of an Israeli effort to hijack the flotilla,” according to an email message from Gaza Freedom March organizer Felice Gelman.
Gelman’s message said that the march will demand that the U.S. government “act to protect its own peaceful citizens and the citizens of the world from acts of piracy and kidnapping committed with US military aid and the immediate release of the flotilla and its passengers.”
This report originally appeared at the Indypendent, a New York City-based newspaper.

{  comments… read them: }
1 annie May 29, 2010
i noticed in the haaretz article

Last week, two Italian supermarkets announced plans to stop selling all Israeli products, saying they could not differentiate between produce from West Bank settlements and goods manufactured on Israeli soverign territory inside the Green Line., according to the website of Stop Camel-Agrexco – an Italian based coalition that campaigns for a boycott on one of Israel’s top agricultural exporters.
Italian grocery chains Coop Italia and Nordiconad will remove all Israeli products from their shelves by the end of the month
“The consumer is unable to verify whether or not the product in question comes from the occupied territories,” it said.

less than one hr ago i received this email from stephanie (yes, she posts here) an american who lives in rome. we traveled to gaza together.

On May 18, 2010, as a result of the campaign launched by Stop Agrexco Italy, a coalition encompassing more than 50 national and local associations, trade unions and political parties, two major Italian supermarket chains, COOP and Conad, announced the suspension of sales of products from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

These products are primarily marketed by the Israeli company Agrexco, which acknowledged during a court case in England in November 2006 that 70% of all agricultural products from the settlements are distributed in Europe under their brand Carmel.

go stephanie, go italy! this brings tears to my eyes.
sorry for the highjack.
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2 Sumud May 29, 2010
“sorry for the highjack.”
Don’t do that! It’s great news.
Now is the time for julian to swoop in and tell us (again) how BDS in 10 [sic] years has been 100% ineffective..
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3 annie May 29, 2010
i’m so jazzed. 2 major supermarket chains…that’s massive. Agrexco is israel’s largest agriculture exporter. !!!!!!!!!!
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4 Shmuel May 29, 2010
It is great news, but the backlash, pressure and subsequent backpedalling have been pretty nasty (eg. lots of anti-Semitism and Nazi references, including from the government and parliamentary majority). Stopagrexco (Italian BDS) has done a great job, and is trying to deal with the fallout, while encouraging the supermarkets to stick by their decision.
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5 Shmuel May 29, 2010
And the link (in English):
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6 annie May 29, 2010
the anti-semitism canard..hmm. wrt boycott ….reminds me of

But really, how can they do this to us? After all, we provide them with work, a living, a good life, wealth and happiness, and they respond with ill feelings. Do they not know that without Arabs it’s impossible to build?

After all, the boycott could force the settlers to build their homes themselves, and why should the lords of the land suddenly start working in construction? That’s only good for the natives.

That’s why there’s an occupation that can supply modern slaves who work for half price, just like during apartheid.
The Yesha Council of settlers also doesn’t understand what the boycott is about. It responded with sharp words and denounced the “hostile act.” MK Uri Ariel (National Union ) proposed a counter-boycott, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that it was “unacceptable for the Arabs to wage an economic war against us.”

a counter boycott? hello, maybe they could boycott their blockade, or just put an end to it altogether. anti semitism my ass! it’s the occupation!
here’s another from haaretz today called a sour pickle about israeli jews boycotting arab businesses starting in the 30’s. it’s a good one too.
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7 annie May 29, 2010
oops, sorry i forgot the first link from the blockquote
Our bleeding-heart prime minister
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8 sky7i May 29, 2010 
9 Sumud May 29, 2010
Just a heads up on that link sky7i: I did a sort on that page to show the strauss brands in my country (Australia) – it comes back as “none” but there are definitely Max Brenner’s here – 18 in fact, and only 6 in Israel.
This little fact has got me thinking. Companies like these have to be uniquely vulnerable to a boycott, so small inside Israel, and large outside.
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10 Richard Parker May 29, 2010
Such actions as these are essential, even if they seem to be very small, to bringing about the isolation of Israel from civilised nations. One by one, they will work, in spite of politicians’ efforts to make sure they don’t
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11 Richard Parker May 29, 2010
But leaving a badly painted banner in a chocolate shop is pathetic; a perfect example of hit-and-run activism.
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12 Richard Parker May 29, 2010
Sorry, I got all that confused; getting supermarket groups (however small) to stop buying Israeli goods is one very good thing. Pissing about posting pillow cases in Israeli chocolate shops in NYC is another, and shouldn’t be celebrated with banner headlines on this blog.
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13 Richard Parker May 29, 2010
I’ve only just read Sky71’s comment on Max Brenner, and would like to change a little of my previous message:
A chocolate exporter from Israel could not make any profit unless it employs extremely cheap labour from the Occupied Territories. After all there are better chocolate brands around; Cadbury’s kept its tame Bournville workers’ village for almost a century before it sold out to an ‘American cheese’maker.
So keep going at Max Brenner, but replace pillowcases with facts, and well-designed protests thtat are not just a bunch of nerdy activists.
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14 annie May 29, 2010
try again richard, you’re not getting it. did you read phil’s post?

Israel’s second-largest food conglomerate, and boasts on its web page of its support and “adoption” of the Golani and Givaati Brigades of the Israeli army. Both the Golani and the Givaati Brigades have historically been associated with numerous violations of human rights.


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