American Muslims for Palestine’s 4th annual date campaign
American Muslims for Palestine wants Americans to stand on the side of justice and choose occupation-free dates this Ramadan.
As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, Muslims across the world are preparing to fast. For thousands of years, dates have been a staple fruit of the Middle East with religious significance. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) demonstrated the principles of effective fasting by eating dates. Today, many Muslims emulate the actions of the Prophet by breaking fast with dates to break their fast.
According to AMP, Israel produces more than half of the world’s Medjool dates. The majority of the dates are produced in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. AMP reports that Israel profits $265 million from their date production annually.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Israeli dates exported to the United States were valued at $51 million in 2011. Thus, many American Muslims are unknowingly consuming dates that are being grown on stolen Palestinian land.
Additionally, AMP reports that Palestinian laborers working on the date plantations are subject to exploitation in the settlements. For example, Palestinian date workers are paid less than Israeli workers and are forced to work in the sun for up to nine hours with minimal breaks. In 2008, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that more than 7,000 children between 5 and 17 years of age were working in the Jordan Valley alone, many on date plantations.
In a process called “distributing monkeys,” Israeli contractors often place Palestinian workers, even children as young as 10, on the tops of 40-foot-high date palms and then leave them there for an entire nine-hour shift. Workers hang on with one arm and pick dates with the other. They even eat their lunches this way, according to a 2006 investigation by Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. The article, “Dates of Infamy” exposes labor violations and human rights abuses. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that more than 7,000 children between 5 and 17 years old were working in illegal settlements.
“When American Muslims buy dates from Israeli settlements, they are unsuspectingly supporting these terrible conditions as well as the settlement industry as a whole, which in turn supports the occupation,” said Osama Abuirshaid, policy analyst and director of AMP’s Washington DC office. “We’re hoping to create critical mass and to make a dent in Israeli date imports into this country.”
AMP urges Muslims to boycott Israeli grown dates and to buy dates grown in the United States. This movement is part of a widespread campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction all Israeli affiliated corporations. Most Israeli dates are marketed by Hadiklaim, a date growing cooperative that exports dates from Israel and its settl
Sements in the occupied territories. Hadiklaim markets dates under the brand names of Jordan River, Jordan River Bio-Top and King Solomon. Many of these brand names are hidden under the labels of supermarket chains.
AMP encourages American buyers to purchase dates from date farms in the Bard Valley in California.