Do you recall that, in France, Palestinians raided a grocery store and stripped the shelves of Israeli products, while store personnel and customers passively stood by and watched? Flush with their success in France, Palestinians, and their friends, are planning on “de-shelving” Israeli products here at home, and they’ve selected Trader Joe’s as their target.
As far as I can tell, Palestinians (and their friends) are generally hostile to Trader Joe’s for its temerity in stocking Israeli products. The pressure is on June 20th, however, because June 20th is World Refugee Day. (Considering that it is the UN that has ensured that Palestinians have been refugees for decades, you’d think they’d simply boycott the UN, but that kind of logic seems to elude these groups.)
So far, Trader Joe’s (bless its corporate heart), is standing firm.
This letter was received by the Central Pacific office of the Anti-Defamation League from Jon Basalone,Senior VP, Marketing, Trader Joe’s:
“We have received a few letters like this via our customer relations email as well. Our response is that we sell products, and do not use our products as political tools or to make any statements about any political causes. We have no intention of removing any products based on pressure from any group, no matter what they support or don’t support. As always, we believe our customers are smart, and they are capable of making decisions about what they purchase. Let me know if you have any more questions or need more information.”
That’s the kind of attitude we like to see our American corporations show, and in this regard Trader Joe’s is proving itself to be a courageous organization deserving our praise.
And courage may really be needed. As the episode in France demonstrates, de-shelving can be an actual physical process in which political thugs vandalize a store. It is entirely possible, of course, to de-shelve a product by putting pressure on management not to stock that product or by stopping your own purchases of that product (and encouraging others to do the same). As to these last two tactics, as long as the pressure isn’t illegal, they are a legitimate use of marketplace power.
People who support the state of Israel, however, can also use marketplace power. It’s very simple: Go to Trader Joe’s and buy products made in Israel.
Purchasing Israeli-made products at Trader Joe’s isn’t a hardship, by the way. The Israeli products it carries are excellent ones, and can comfortably fit in any kitchen and pantry. A non-inclusive list of products is Dorot Crushed Garlic (one of my freezer staples), Dorot Chopped Cilantro, Dorot Chopped Garlic (also a freezer staple), Holyland Matzos, Pastures of Eden Feta Imported (many people consider this to be one of the best Feta cheeses around), Trader Joes Israeli Couscous (ditto for best couscous) and Trader Joes Harvest Grains Blend.
So, if you’re in a shopping mood, on June 19th or the 20th (which is Shabbat), go to your local Trader Joe’s and make your market power felt. And indeed, as a general matter, when you’re in a store and have a choice of imported products, think about supporting the Israeli economy. I try to buy American when I can, but when I can’t, I’m careful about which the countries to which I like to send my money.