With the exception of Ajwa dates (those favoured by the Prophet Muhammad - P.B.U.H), Medjool dates are probably the most expensive but also the most delicious dates in the world. They stand out compared to other dates mainly because of their size.
Last Ramadan I ventured to a halal grocery store (in a predominantly Muslim area) and was about to purchase some of these delicious dates until I saw the sign "produce of Israel" on the box – I was really angered and left the store immediately. Again a couple of days ago I ventured to a local supermarket and noticed the same dates – this time labelled produce of West Bank - again I did not purchase these dates.
The reason for this is mainly due to the fact that produce from Israel (fruit and vegetables) such as dates are mainly produced in occupied Palestinian land such as the West Bank (these are some of the most beautiful and fertile lands in the Arab world) – but most of these lands are run by illegal settlers who employ Palestinians with some of the harshest working conditions. Investigative reporting by Israeli newspapers such as Haaretz had exposed these findings.
The European Union and some of our largest supermarkets in Europe turn a blind eye towards this. An even greater worry is the ignorance set by owners of halal grocery chains who in one way during the month of Ramadan might have a collection box from charities to help oppressed Palestinians yet at the same time will be financing their oppressors by selling profitable crops such as dates from Israel and occupied Palestine in their shops!
It’s time for an ethical campaign – a campaign on the type of food we buy. Innovative Minds and the Islamic Human Rights Commission are calling on campaigners to create awareness in their communities about the boycott of Israeli goods, and in particular Israeli dates, this Ramadan.
BOYCOTT ISRAELI DATES
Most of the Israeli date crop – up to 80%, is exported, mainly to Europe where it has around 10% market share. In 2005, dates were Israel’s leading fruit export. The two major Israeli companies involved are Agrexco and Hadi-klaim.
Agrexco, half owned by the Israeli government, handles 60-70% of all goods produced in the illegal Settlements. Its dates have brand names Carmel, Jordan Plains and Jordan Valley.
Hadiklaim sells 65 percent of the all dates produced in Israel. Its dates have brand names King Solomon and Jordan River. They also supply Israeli dates to supermarkets and retail chains who market them under their own brand names. These include Marks & Spencer's, Sainsbury's, Tesco's, and Waitrose.