Overtones of Antisemitism in York University Boycott
by Zach Pontz
The Costcutter supermarket at the University of York has initiated a boycott of Israeli goods at the behest of the newly formed Palestinian Solidarity Society (PSS). The first product taken off the shelves was Jaffa oranges, a company that PSS has accused of profiting from production in settlements. However, customers are still able to buy Iranian pistachios, whose industry, unlike that of Jaffa oranges, actually has a close connection to the oppressive Iranian government.
Standforpeace, a Jewish-Muslim interfaith organization focused on countering extremism notes: “In 2000, Patrick Clawson from the Washington Institute, reported, ‘while he was president, [Hashemi] Rafsanjani shut down a magazine that had the temerity to publish a petition from the pistachio growers of the Rafsanjan region complaining about how his family had monopolized the trade to its profit.’ Two years later, Michael Rubin, writing in the Wall Street Journal, noted that ‘former President Hashemi Rafsanjani … controls more than 70% of Iran’s multimillion dollar pistachio trade.’ Unsurprisingly, Iranians often refer to Rafsanjani as the ‘King of Pistachios.'”
Noting that the boycott was called expressly against Jewish companies, Standforpeace reached out to Costcutter and the student Palestine Solidarity Society to see if they would also support a boycott of businesses in Israel owned by Arab Israelis, but had not yet received a response.
Trade between Israeli, and Palestinian Arab businesses is extremely important, Standforpeace writes in its article about the Costcutter boycott. Strong trade is regarded as a prerequisite for peace. Israeli Arab businessman Murad Tahboub has said, “Once you come and see it with your own eyes you have a different perspective. We’re not like (what you see on) CNN or Fox News or Al Jazeera. There is a totally different side, a good side, and you just have to come and see it.
“Most of the big businesses in Israel are totally pro-peace and they are very active about this – the same with the Palestinians. Having sustainable economic development with a key emphasis on job creation is crucial, and should be looked upon carefully by all the countries who would like to do something in this region.”