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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

An open letter to S. African Minister of Trade and Industry re labelling of West Bank products

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An open letter to South African Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies
June 30, 2012    
 
Dear Minister Davies
 
I am writing to support your intention to enhance South Africa's exemplary consumer Protection Act, by adding a requirement for truth in labeling.
 
Certainly, the consumer is entitled to know where products offered for sale originate as well as whether they are made under conditions to which the consumer objects like carpets made in Asia by child slaves. Dr Jacobs, President of the American Anti-Slavery Group in the April 1996 edition of World & I describes how children work from toddlerhood to adolescence, from dawn to dusk, in horrid conditions. He describes a typical example. Five-year-old Santosh, sold into slavery in India was kept weaving carpets from 4:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night, every day, without breaks until rescued.
 
The Bonded Labour Liberation Front reports that between 200,000 and 300,000 children are involved in the carpet industry in Asia. Surely the proposed legislation will require that these goods be appropriately labeled?
 
Surprisingly and disappointingly, even chocolate needs to be accurately labeled with regard to the cocoa source.
 
CNN recently reported that the billion dollar chocolate industry starts with workers like 10 year old Abdul in the Ivory Coast where child labor, trafficking and slavery are rife in an industry that produces some of the world�s best-known brands.
 
UNICEF estimates that nearly a half-million children work on farms across Ivory Coast and  hundreds of thousands of children are engaged in the worst forms of child labor.
 
Heartrendingly some international chocolate makers are taking steps to eliminates child slave labor among their suppliers and to facilitate enforcement of your truth in labeling regulation. Click here for more information about these firms

And of course sensitive consumers would avoid buying "blood diamonds" from Zimbabwe.  In December last year the Guardian reported that conflict diamonds were to be used to fund a new campaign of violence by Robert Mugabe's regime against his political opponents.
.
According to a BBC report, an area in Zimbabwe is a place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of beatings, "They beat us 40 whips in the morning, 40 in the afternoon and 40 in the evening," said one man. The company that runs the mine is headed by a personal friend of President Mugabe. 

Since the proposed regulation is not a political but rather a laudable consumer protection move, may I suggest with respect that political implications be averted by avoiding the use of politically loaded terms.
 
The expression "occupied Palestinian territory" or OPT does not have an unambiguous meaning.  You stated in an article in the mail and Guardian last May that South Africa recognizes the 1967 borders of Israel, but many have other views. In his letter to the UN applying for Palestinian statehood, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas based his claim on the 1947 UN partition resolution and in a speech last September 16, he  confirmed that in his view the 1967 lines don't define the true borders but that the real Palestinian borders were laid down in 1947 by the UN. By his definition all areas beyond the 47 lines - not the 67 lines - are OPT while Omar Barghouti one of the leaders of the BDS movement as well as Hamas regard all of Israel including Tel Aviv as OPT.
 
As there is clearly divided opinion over the meaning of OPT, it is obviously preferable to use the unambiguous and universally recognizable terms for the territories in question which have been in continuous use for centuries, namely Judea and Samaria.
 
This letter is being publicized as will the considered reply I Hope to receive from you.
 
Sincerely,
Maurice Ostroff
 

June 30, 2012

 

The Proposed discriminatory South African labeling regulation

 

The proposed regulation requiring products made in Israel's West bank to be labeled made in "occupied Palestinian territory" has been hailed as a victory by the anti-Israel global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The success has been largely credited to pressure by the non-governmental organization, "Open Shuhada Street"

 

According to a May 2012 report in Business Live, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies explained that  "Open Shuhada Street" had threatened to take his department to court if the products were not labeled properly. "We had no choice but to follow (SA) law," he said.

 

Davies said that while SA, along with many other countries, recognized Israel's pre-1967 borders and not its occupation of Palestine, the move was in compliance with the requirements of the National Consumer Act.

 

"This has nothing to do with international politics or anything like that. Rather it is in compliance with our own law that requires that products must be correctly labeled in terms of where they come from and consumers can then make their own choices," he said.

 

Surprisingly, Israel is not alone in protesting about the proposed regulation that singles out Israel in requiring that products made in the West Bank be labeled made in "Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

And unsurprisingly, international mainstream media ignored the peaceful protest marches that were held in Pretoria last Thursday and in Cape Town the following day, opposing the proposed legislation. Another surprise though; the protesters were not Zionist patriots, but mainly non-Jewish concerned persons interested in enhancing South Africa's policy of non-discrimination.

According to Gateway News they comprised mainly members of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)
and the Inkatha Freedom Party   as well as representatives of Impact for Christ Ministries, the Shembe Church of Gauteng,  the Institute for Christian Leadership Development, Hebraic Roots Training Institute, Bridges for Peace, Congo for Peace,  Biafran National Congress and Christian View Network.

 

They marched to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) where ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and  IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi handed over a memorandum to Macdonald Netshitenzhe, director of the DTIs consumer and corporate regulation division.

Click here for the detailed report

 

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