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Becker’s report was based on a document published in April by a research agency called Profundo at the request of several Dutch NGOs critical of Israel.
Titled “Dutch economic links with the occupation,” the report said Hoogvliet, Aldi and Jumbo admitted to instructing Israeli suppliers to refrain from sending goods produced in the settlements. Dutch media later reported that Hema made similar requests.
A spokesperson for Profundo told JTA the report is accurate and that statements were based on answers to its questions. But a spokesperson for the Dutch subsidiary of Aldi, a German chain with stores in 18 countries, told JTA the statement on the boycott was “a false representation of reality” caused by “a mistake in the answers provided” to Profundo.
Aldi “has no policy on products from the West Bank and the Golan,” the spokesperson said.
Hema, a large Dutch supermarket chain with branches in five European countries, also denied a boycott policy. Jumbo and Hoogvliet issued statements saying politics play no role in decisions about what products to stock.
“We have Israeli wines on sale, none of which are produced in the occupied territories,” a Hema spokesperson said.
Trade between Israel and the European Union totaled approximately $39 billion in 2011, with Israeli exports accounting for 41 percent of the total. Settlement goods constituted only “a small fraction” of the amount, according to the Irish government.
The limited availability of settlement products in Europe means that boycotting them would lead to little loss of revenue for Israeli companies. But even if not damaging economically, Jerusalem views the moves against the settlements with alarm, fearing their spread could lead to further isolation.
Yet Israel has been helpless to do much about it. Despite intense protests by senior Israeli officials, the labeling movement is spreading, even in countries that are traditionally sympathetic to Israel.