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The month of Ramadan – a holy month for Muslims, where day-long fasts are broken with dates and water – will soon arrive.

Israel, as it does every year, is preparing to flood the markets with dates grown either within Israel or on its illegal West Bank settlements.

Ramadan is the second busiest time of year for Israeli date exporters, second only to Christmas.

Their main export is Medjoul dates, which are the traditional dates used by Muslims to break their Ramadan fasts.

Please check the label when buying dates. Don’t buy dates that are produced or packaged in Israel or its West Bank settlements

The Jordan Valley is the most fertile area of the West Bank. It is on this Palestinian land that many of Israel’s illegal settlement farms – including date farms – can be found.

Israeli Medjoul dates can only be grown in the Jordan Valley and a few areas of southern Israel.

If you buy Medjoul dates which have been grown or packaged in the Jordan Valley, or in Israel, you are economically supporting Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land

Hadiklaim is an Israeli date growers’ co-operative. It is the largest exporter of dates in Israel.

Some of the company’s dates originate from the occupied Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area. Some settlements in the northern Dead Sea region provide their dates exclusively to Hadiklaim for export.

Hadiklaim’s packing houses, where dates are packaged for export, are based in settlements in the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, as well as within Israel.

The company sells its dates abroad under the following brand names: King Solomon, Jordan River and Jordan River Bio-Top, as well as under the private labels of supermarket chains.

Check the label. If it says ‘Hadiklaim’ on it, don’t buy.

Also check the label for the following export companies, which do business in the settlements – eg using packing houses in the settlements – as well as in Israel (exporting not just dates, but fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs as well): Mehadrin, MTex, Edom, Agrexoco, and Arava.

Supermarket complicity

Waitrose sells ‘Jordan River Medjool Dates’, with Hadiklaim named on the label as the exporter. It also sells ‘King Solomon Medjool Dates’, again with Hadiklaim named on the label.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s enquiries to Waitrose to find out if these dates were grown or packaged on settlements elicited this obfuscating email response: ‘Any Israeli Waitrose produce comes from internationally recognised (pre-1967) borders.’ (email received: 11/04/15)

A further email from PSC to Waitrose, asking how produce can come ‘from’ a border, and enquiring specifically if Waitrose was selling dates grown or packaged in illegal Jordan Valley settlements was ignored.

An email sent to a PSC member in March by Waitrose Customer Service provided this confused information: ‘The dates are mainly grown in the Jordan Valley in accordance with 1967 borders, none is grown in the West bank.’

Regardless of these murky answers, one thing isn’t in dispute – Waitrose is doing business with Hadiklaim, a company which profits from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and whose exported dates are likely to have been grown or packaged on settlements.

Israeli dates can be found in the major supermarkets.

As well as selling Hadiklaim dates, Waitrose also sells Israeli dates under the label, ‘Love life Hadrawi dates’.

Tesco sells Israeli dates under its ‘Finest’ brand. Its ‘Tesco Finest King Solomon Dates’ are produce of Israel.

Other Tesco-branded dates which are from Israel include ‘Tesco Halawi Dates’ and ‘Tesco Wholefoods Medjool Dates’.

Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference Medjool Dates’ are grown in Israel and Morrisons’ ‘M Signature Medjool Dates’ are grown and packaged in Israel.

What can you do?

  1. Always check the label. Don’t buy dates or produce from, or packaged in, Israel or its illegal settlements
  2. Buy Palestinian dates instead! (Palestinian, as well as Jordanian, Medjoul dates are available in shops and online. PSC stocks ‘Zaytoun Fairtrade Medjoul Dates’, which are grown in Jericho and provide vital income for Palestinian farmers.)
  3. Write to the supermarkets. Ask them to explain why they’re buying into Israel’s occupation by stocking Israeli or Israeli settlement dates and produce. Let them know that you’ll be boycotting this produce and encouraging your friends and family to do the same.

This article was written in 2015, so some of the brand information may have changed. Please check.