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IKEA store in Netanya Photo: Galit Kosovsky
IKEA store in Netanya Photo: Galit Kosovsky
 
H&M fashion chain Photo: AP
H&M fashion chain Photo: AP
 
Absolut Vodka Photo: AP
Absolut Vodka Photo: AP
 
Volvo car
Volvo car 
 
 

Israelis urged to boycott IKEA

Thousands of people sign internet petition calling for consumers' boycott on Swedish companies. IKEA unmoved: 'We are not political, and we'll continue our excellent relations with Israeli consumers'

Ofer Petersburg
Published: 08.24.09, 11:08 / Israel Business

Thousands of Israelis on Sunday signed an internet petition calling for a consumers' boycott on Swedish home products retailer IKEA, as well as other companies from the Scandinavian country, including vehicle maker Volvo, Absolut Vodka, and fashion chain H&M.

 

The petition was initiated following a Swedish newspaper report accusing Israel Defense Forces soldiers of harvesting Palestinians' organs.

 

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The website which published the petition explained that "after the anti-Semitic publication and the blood libel against IDF soldiers, and the refusal of Sweden's foreign minister and prime minister to condemn this report, there is no way that we can continue buying products made in Sweden. Don’t settle for signing the petition. Real action is needed."

 

The petition was initiated by Moran Hajbi, 27, an archaeology and Land of Israel studies student. Hajbi, a former Golani Brigade fighter who lives in Mitzpe Yericho in the Judean Desert, only realized the power of his petition on Sunday afternoon.

 

"I suddenly remembered that I had not signed it myself, and added my name somewhere around the 900th slot," he says. "I am simply a citizen who cares and cannot stand idly by in light of the publication of the Swedish blood libel."

 

Are you a serial creator of petitions?

 

"No, this is my first petition. In the past I only signed petitions but didn't initiate them. I am in shock by the number of people who signed and positively surprised, but I hope this isn't just an empty statement. There is a difference between sitting behind a computer screen and signing, and actually doing something. I, in any case, am done with Swedish products."

 

Shmuel Pakor of Rishon Lezion, who signed the petition, wrote: "Yesterday I threw away a cabinet I had bought from IKEA. From an ethical point of view, I cannot own a product manufactured by a Swedish company encouraging anti-Semitism. I'm choosing to boycott them too."

 

"It's time the people of Israel vote with their pockets," wrote a woman from Petah Tikva.

 

IKEA said in response to the petition, "IKEA is an a-political commercial body which enjoys excellent relations with Israeli consumers and will continue these relations in the future as well."

 

The Swedish chain's store in Netanya was as crowded as always on Sunday and did not record a drop in the number of shoppers. The company's annual sales turnover in Israel stands at NIS 300 million.

 

The Absolut company declined comment.

 

The chairman and CEO of H&M's franchiser in Israel, Match Retail, are currently in Sweden ahead of the opening of the fashion chain's first store in the Holy Land in April, and were unavailable for comment.

 

The Meir company, which imports Volvo to Israel, said in response, "Volvo is a strong and established brand in Israel. We are certain that the Israeli consumer will continue choosing the Volvo brand because of the safety and quality it represents."

 

Udi Etzion contributed to this report

 

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