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UPDATE (12/05/10) – Valley Grown Salads and EDOM have replied to this letter claiming that the packing house in Tomer belongs not to them but to a grower that they have worked with in the past. They say that this grower is not part of their ‘supply base’ any more although they have ‘purchased from him’ on one occassion this season. EDOM claim that they have instructed the grower to take down the EDOM sign at the packing house in Tomer.
More updates soon.
An open Letter to Valley Grown Salads (www.v-g-s.co.uk)
To Whom it may Concern
I am writing to you from Corporate Watch (www.corporatewatch.org). Corporate Watch has, recently, been undertaking research in Palestine and has noted, with concern, that EDOM UK, an Israeli company in which your company holds a 20% share, operate a packing house in the illegal settlement of Tomer (pictures at https://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/uk-company-exporting-from-jordan-valley-settlements/). Read the rest of this entry »
Despite the fact that there is -as demonstrated by this web-site- clearly a lot of more work to be done for people campaigning for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, a recent visit to the Jordan Valley confirmed that there are plenty of reasons for the BDS movement to take stock of its successes. Read the rest of this entry »
Beresheet (www.pri-beresheet.co.il), an Israeli fruit export and marketing company based in the Galilee and Golan Heights, has a depot and packing house in the illegal settlement of Merom Golan. The company has dozens of plantations on illegal settlements in the Golan heights (see their plantation map) and advertises that it exports to Europe. Beresheet advertise apple, peaches, nectarines, pears, cherries, kiwi fruit, lychees, pears and persimmons on their website. An address in Merom Golan is given as their main contact address on their site. Read the rest of this entry »
Merom Golan (www.merom-golan.org.il) is an illegal Israeli settlement in the Northern Golan heights. It was established in 1967, after Israel’s invasion and military occupation of the area. Merom Golan was established on land belonging to the Syrian area of Al Mansura. It now has a population of 497 people. Read the rest of this entry »
El Rom is an illegal settlement, established in 1971, in the Northern Golan heights. El rom is situated on the land previously occupied by the Syrian settlements of Ein el-Hajal and Buq’aata. The settlement has 300-350 residents. There is now a large expanse of apple fields, possibly bound for export, stretching toward the border on the far side of the road from El Rom.
The fruit export company, Beresheet, advertise that ‘kibbutz’ El Rom is one of their partners (see ).
When Corporate Watchers visited El Rom in February 2010, a car belonging to the Golan Heights winery (which is based in the illegal settlement of Katzerin) was seen leaving the settlement. The Golan Heights Winery lists El Rom as one of the places where they have vineyards, the other illegal settlements where the winery grows its grapes are Alonei Habashan, Gshur, Yonatan, Mevo Hama, Merom Golan, Nov, Kidmat Tzvi, Ramot Naftali, Ein Zivan, Ramot Mashimim, Tel Fares and Sha’al.
El Rom is also trying to market itself as part of the Golan settlements tourist trail with a ‘movie experience’, advertised from the highway, where visitors can watch a film about the Yom Kippur war, should they so wish.
Netiv Hagdud and Gilgal are two illegal Israeli settlements set back from Route 90 South of Fasayil and Tomer in the occupied Jordan Valley. Between the two settlements is a fenced agricultural area which exports fruit and vegetables internationally. Produce in Waitrose has previously been seen bearing the label ‘Netiv Hagdud’. In March Corporate Watch paid the two settlements a visit. Read the rest of this entry »
Efrat is a settlement of close to 10.000 people located near Bethlehem in the West Bank. A visit there revealed that the settlement’s own travel agent, Efrat Tours: Travel and Tourism is an accredited agent of IATA -the international Air Transport Association- which has its headquarters in Canada. IATA describes the aim of its business as representing, leading and serving the airline industry. The company also maintains the Timatic database, which contains cross border passenger documentation requirements.
To merely be the accreditor of an already existing business might not seem like the worst corporate faux pa in the circumstances, but what IATA’s presence in Efrat represents is deeply troubling on both a real and a symbolic level. On their web-site IATA describe themselves as ‘providing visibility and credibility on premises and web-sites’ of companies which succeed in gaining IATA Accredited Agent Status. In other words, by endorsing Efrat Tours, IATA legitimise tourism to and from illegal settlements. Whilst the settlers can book their flights around the world without leaving Efrat, the movements of Palestinians down the road are heavily restricted by checkpoints, road blocks and closed military zones, making even a trip to see family members in close-by villages an unpredictable journey that can take hours. Most Palestinians living close to Efrat can only dream of visiting Jerusalem -which is only about half an hour’s drive away- as a majority lack permission to enter what is supposed to be their capital. Read the rest of this entry »
Tomer is an illegal Israeli settlement of nearly 300 people close to the Palestinian community of Fasayil. It employs Palestinian and Thai workers, the bosses are Israeli. Tomer was established in 1976 on the lands of the people of Fasayil, Al Auja and other nearby Palestinian communities.
Some companies working inside Tomer:
TBP Export – http://www.tbp-export.com – Have a packing house in Tomer. They are, according to their website, an international marketing company for fresh produce set up by two Israeli agricultural companies, Mor-Li and Bar-Mor. Despite basing its packing house on an illegal settlement TBP export boasts that it is certified by EUREPGAP, an international certifier of “good agricultural practice”. They are also approved to British Retail Consortium (BRC) standards, suggesting they are marketing their goods in Britain. The company advertise potatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, peppers, herbs and organic products. TBP list many locations where they source their produce, although not the Jordan Valley. TBP does list Beit Shean and the Arava as two of their growing areas, the areas directly North and South of the valley. TBP’s contact address is in Ein Vered near Israel’s South Coast. TBP use the brandname ‘Rimon’, Corporate Watchers saw a truck emblazoned with this logo picking up produce from Tomer.
Carmel Agrexco – http://www.agrexco.co.il – Agrexco has several packing houses in Tomer and several Agrexco vans could be seen visiting the settlement every day. Agrexco are the largest agricultural company operating in the Jordan Valley and use the brandnames Carmel, Jaffa, Biotop, Coral, Jordan Plains, Alesia and Ecofresh. Agrexco subsidiaries include Agrexco (France), Agrexco (US), Carmexco (Italy), Eclectic, Carmel Cor, LACHS, Dalia (Germany). Agrexco have a regional office in the occupied Jordan Valley, at the Arovot HaYarden Regional Council, and are building a new refrigeration centre there. The company operates packing houses in most of the Jordan Valley settlements including Netiv Hagdud, Ro’i, Argaman, Mehola and Bet HaArava .
There has been a long running direct action campaign against Carmel Agreco in the UK (See http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/actions/2008/carmelagrexco/). Activists have repeatedly shut down Agrexco’s depot in Hayes, Middlesex, with blockades and occuptions. In 2006 a case against campaigners who had blockaded the company’s premises was dropped after the defendants had obtained disclosure from the company of its business in the occupied territories. The managing director, Amos Orr, stated in court that 60-70% of all produce from the West Bank was exported through Agrexco.
Carmel’s site boasts that they have branches in London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rotterdam, New York, Zurich, Vienna, Madrid and Milan. Several interviews with Carmel workers in the Jordan Valley by Corporate Watch and the Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group (www.brightonpalestine.org) have found that workers picking fruit and vegetables for the company in the occupied Jordan Valley are paid 70 – 75 shekels (about 13 pounds), less than half the Israeli minimum wage.
Nirav – http://www.nirav.co.il – Marketing company for greenhouses, sheds etc.
EDOM – http://www.edom.co.il – A partially British owned company. More info at https://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/further-information-about-edom-uk-signs-of-more-mislabelling/. Read the rest of this entry »
Arava – http://www.arv.co.il – Arava Export Growers is the third largest agricultural export company in Israel, with export sales of about € 60 million. It is 50% owned by B. Gaon Holdings and 50% by farmers in the Arava region of Israel. Arava advertise that their products comply to organic EUREGAP and British Retail Consortium Standards, suggesting a focus on exports to Europe. Arava have a sales office in the UK run by Mill Associates. Arava have subsidiaries in the US and Holland with head offices in New York and Bleiswijk respectively.
Pisgat Ze’ev, with a population of over 50.000, is the largest settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and an area that pops up frequently in debates about Israeli settlement expansion. One month ago the area made the headlines when Obama criticised the Israeli government’s plans for 600 new housing units there. Situated just east of the Palestinian Shu’fat refugee camp, Pisgat Ze’ev is a strategically important location for the Israelis in their attempt to maintain a Jewish majority in East Jerusalem. It is also the end stop for one of the branches of the controversial Jerusalem Light Railway, which will connect illegal settlements to west Jerusalem and the old city. However, international companies still seem happy to trade there, as Blockbusters and Pizza Hut both have franchises in the Pisgat Ze’ev mall and the surrounding area. There is also an Orange mobile phone shop there. Orange Israel is owned by the Israeli Partner Communications Company Ltd and not connected to Orange owned by French Telecom. However, the Orange brand name is used under licence, hence representing the endorsement of the mother company. Read the rest of this entry »
After finding a packinghouse bearing Edom UK signage inside the settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley a few weeks ago, we decided to look more closely into this joint Israeli and British company and their exports.
As mentioned in the previous report, the British company Valley Grown Salads own 20% of the shares in Edom UK, and since then we have found out that another British company, Glinwell PLC, own another 20%. 30% is owned by a company called Chosen Agricultural Products, which consists of farmers from Moshavs in the Arava region, and a further 30% by a company called Magnolia UK holdings. Read the rest of this entry »
Western Union, the international money transfer operator, can be found in most big Israeli settlements including Ariel, Kiryat Arba and Ma’ale Adumim. The Israeli post office is the licensed operator for Western Union in Israel, and as the post office branches operate in the settlements it means that Western Union do too. Through this deal Western Union accept by default both Israel’s acts and language of occupation.
For instance, if you want to find a Western Union agent in occupied East Jerusalem, you get no results on their web-site when you search for agents in The Palestinian Territories, as all locations in Jerusalem -including illegal settlements such as Pizgat Zeev and Palestinian areas like Shu’fat- show up only under a search for Israel. There is also no distinction made between settlement branches and locations within Israel.
Agent deals like this one should alert any company doing business in Israel about how working with an Israeli company can automatically implicate them in illegal settlement trading, and for the boycott movement it should highlight the importance of focusing on a full Israeli boycott rather than just a settlement one, as the two can not be fully separated.
For a full list of Western Union locations through the Israeli Post see http://www.israelpost.co.il/WL.nsf/6/City.pdf/$file/City.pdf