Hadiklaim is an Israeli date growers cooperative which deals with several major supermarkets in the UK, including Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose (although the Co Op and Marks and Spencer maintain that they only stock Hadiklaim products from 1948 Israel). The company boasts that it exports to 30 countries (see http://www.hadiklaim.com/company_customers.asp). Tesco and Marks and Spencer branded dates are Hadiklaim produce.
The Hadiklaim cooperative includes date growers from 1948 Israel, mostly the South, and from the settlements in the occupied Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s website portrays the company as one which deals only with 1948 Israel; listing growers in Beit Shean, the Kinneret, the Arava, Eilat and (ambiguosly)’the Dead Sea region’. However, the company also exports from the Israels settlements in the Jordan Valley. Hadiklaim’s statements in the Israeli Hebrew language media are markedly different – the companies CEO has stated in YNet that the occupied Jordan Valley is an important area for Hadiklaim.
Hadiklaim exports under the ‘King Solomon Dates’ and ‘Jordan River’ brandnames.Their products are exported by the Israeli company, Almog Tradex Ltd, which claims to export 10 000 tonnes of Israeli fruits annually.
Hadiklaim boasts that “Hadiklaim growers and packing houses have approvals from international standard setting bodies – ISO, BRC, EUREP GAP, Bio USDA and IFOAM – as well as the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and the Israeli Bio-Organic Agriculture Association”. Their produce is often certified as organic on the UK market.
Hadiklaim signage is displayed on packing houses in the settlements of Beit Ha’Arava, close to the Dead Sea Coast, and Tomer, close to the Palestinian village of Fasayil. There is evidence, however, to suggest that Hadiklaim dates are packaged in packing houses used primarily by Carmel-Agrexco or other exporters.
In October 2007, a group of campaigners from the Brighton Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group (www.brightonpalestine.org) entered Tomer settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley and photographed Hadiklaim medjoul dates, packaged by Carmel Agrexco, labelled ‘Made in Israel’ and marked as bound for Tesco stores. Products exported as ‘Made in Israel’ benefit from the preferential trade terms of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which came into effect in 2000. Settlement products, however, are excluded from the beneficial terms of the EU-IAA. When ITN screened an expose in 2007 accusing supermarkets of misleading British consumers, Tesco admitted it had acted “in error” and stated that Israeli dates “originating solely in the West Bank will [in the future] be labelled as such.” The controversy from this debacle spurred the 2009 DEFRA advice (see http://www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/pdf/labelling-palestine.pdf) on the labelling of settlement goods.
Date picking in the Jordan Valley is a hazardous business. Workers are hoisted into the trees with a cherry picker and are often left to work on a platform high above the ground for the duration of the working day without meal or toilet breaks. The majority of workers are Palestinian or Thai migrants – who are uniformly paid below the minimum wage. For more info on labour conditions for date pickers in the Jordan Valley see Kav’La Oved and UNISON’s 2009 film, Bitter Dates at http://www.leedspsc.org.uk/?p=1671.
Hadiklaim specialise in Medjoul dates – the type of date Muslims traditionally use to break their fast at Ramadan. Over the past years British mosques have often bought Israeli dates to break the fast because they are cheaper than their counterparts from North Africa. Ramadan is the second biggest time of year for Israeli date exporters (after Christmas). Israeli Medjoul dates can only be grown in the Jordan Valley and a few other regions of Southern Israel. Palestine Solidarity Campaign are running a campaign to highlight the issue of Israeli dates being bought for Ramadan – see http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b-2.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=19&content_ID=1365for more details
The fact that companies such as the Co Op, who have taken an ethical stance against settlement produce, and Marks and Spencers, who have also agreed not to sell goods from the settlements, stock products from Hadiklaim highlights the fact that selective boycotts of settlement goods fail, even on their own terms. The Co Op’s stance against settlement produce is cheapened by the fact that they continue to deal with companies like Hadiklaim and Agrexco who provide vital business to Israel’s illegal settlements. Trade from the Co Op, and other British supermarkets, helps to perpetuate Israel’s colonial policies through promoting settler business.
Of course, any boycott which singles out Israel’s settlements is not going far enough. The Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (see http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/52) calls for a boyycott of all Israeli goods until Israel complies with international humanitarian law.
Hadiklaim ‘s address is:
6 Harutz Street
Tel Aviv 67060