South Africa

SA’s very own ‘Made in Israel’ war of words

By Osiame Molefe 29 June 2012

Groups for and against the trade and industry department's decision to prohibit labelling goods made in Israeli-occupied territories as “Made in Israel” traded accusations of racism, pedalling propaganda and misleading people this week. But pro-Palestine groups say those against the decision are ignorant of what the law says. By OSIAME MOLEFE.

The exact wording proposed is unclear, but a notice issued by the trade and industry department that goods imported from Israel and manufactured in the Israeli-occupied territories ought to be labelled as such has been met by protest. 

The Inkatha Freedom Party, the African Christian Democratic Party, the South African Zionist Federation and the Shembe Church – dubbing themselves “Africans for Israel” – on Thursday marched to the trade and industry department’s head office in Pretoria to demand that minister Rob Davies withdraw the notice. 

According to ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe – whose human rights record includes opposition to gay rights and condom distribution and who supports the death penalty – the notice “is discriminatory, indefensible and part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to isolate and delegitimise Israel.”

Davies’ action is yet another indication that the South African government has taken Palestine’s side in the conflict, IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi added. He also claimed that the notice had no basis in law.

“Our government has maintained an unstated position with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and has made no effort to conceal the fact that it supports the Palestinian cause. One seldom hears an unbiased statement in Parliament. Our government has taken sides,” he said.

Buthelezi also likened the consumer boycotts against the re-labelling to those preceding the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust in Germany.

Responding to Thursday’s protests, pro-Palestine lobby group Open Shuddah Street accused the IFP and ACDP of misleading their members and maintained that the notice upheld the law and consumer’s rights to accurate information. Trade union Cosatu also criticised the protest and appealed to Shembe Church spiritual leader Phakama Shembe not to allow the church’s members to be co-opted into furthering “the racist supremacist ideology” of the SA Zionist Federation.

“Those who choose to (participate in the protest) are either genuinely misinformed, opportunistic or are deliberately sacrificing principle on the altar of cheap politicking, as is being consistently demonstrated by the leader of the ACDP, Reverend Meshoe, and the IFP,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement. 

At a Thursday press conference in Cape Town, the Palestine Solidarity Group, refugee-rights group Passop, religious leaders group Kairos, and the South African boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign also voiced support for Davies’ decision to issue the notice.

At question is whether the Israeli-occupied territories, as designated by the United Nations, meet the definition of a place or country of origin under the Consumer Protection Act, which requires that the trade description on any goods not mislead the consumer. According to Open Shuddah Street, the trade description on Israeli cosmetics company Ahava’s products was misleading because it did not correctly describe the place or country of origin. The goods are labelled “Made in Israel” whereas they originated from the Israeli-occupied territories, the group said, threatening to take the government to court if it did not order a re-labelling.

The notice, issued in May with a 60-day comment period, sets out the government’s position clearly: “The government of South Africa recognises the state of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations in 1948. Such demarcated borders of Israel by the UN do not include Palestinian territories occupied after 1967.”

Thus, to comply with the act’s trade description’s requirements, the trade and industry department said, any goods – not just from Ahava – manufactured within the UN-defined occupied Palestinian territory and imported into South Africa cannot be labelled as “Made in Israel”.

Mary Kluk, chairwoman of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said the board and the SA Zionist Federation met Davies to discuss their concerns over implications of the notice and would, as invited, make a submission to the department.

Another protest march, this time to Parliament in Cape Town, against the re-labelling is planned for Friday. DM

Read more:

Israeli/Palestine exports: South Africa states its case, in Daily Maverick 

Palestinian statehood bid: The view from South Africa, in Daily Maverick 

Photo: Trade and Industry minister Rob Davies

Gallery

Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!

No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.

Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.

It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.

But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.

So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.


Comments

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.

Days of Zondo

Fikile ‘Fearfokkol’ Mbalula tripped up by semantics of his Gupta-fix tale

By Jessica Bezuidenhout

"What's the sense in having an eclipse if you can't look at it? Somebody in production sure slipped up this time!" ~ Charles M. Schulz