Efforts by Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden have paid off with the removal of a boycott of Israeli goods sold in at least three stores of a huge supermarket chain.
The COOP Forum stores in the northern city of Varberg voted nearly three months ago for the boycott, which affected products from all of Israel, not just from Judea and Samara. The chain has 644 outlets, and if the boycott had spread, it could have been a catalyst for a wider embargo in Europe on items from Israel.
Ambassador to Sweden Yitzchak Bachman swung into action immediately after the boycott was approved and went high-profile, giving interviews and arguing that the discrimination violates the concept of free trade.
He appealed to the management of the stores in Varberg, and officials issued as statement saying they oppose boycotts. The ambassador also posted online the phone numbers and e-mail address of COOP’s management, which was bombarded with protests.
It was the second recent victory for Israel. Last week, the Orange company embarrassed itself when its CEO said in Cairo that he would prefer not having anything to do with the company’s Israeli franchise.
Drowning in a sea of fierce criticism from Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Orange CEO made a 180-degree, and that was the end of the boycott that never was.
Bachman said after the latest victory over BDS:
The thing to do about boycotts is oppose them for what they are, without trying to decide whether we are right or the Palestinians are right. The support we were able to gain among Swedish citizens was essential, as the chain realized it couldn’t fight the will of the people.