An open letter to Sobey’s – Stop selling Israeli products

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Editor’s Note: PAW member Candice Bodnaruk sent this letter to a representative of the Sobey’s grocery chain in Canada. She invites one and all to write to Sobey’s on this subject and to copy and paste any or all of her composition.


May 29th, 2024

Mr. Michael Medline
CEO, Sobeys Canada
115 King St.
Stellarton, Nova Scotia
B0K 1S0

Dear Sir:

As a long time, loyal Sobey’s customer, local peace activist and person of conscience, I am shocked to see that Sobey’s Manitoba stores continues to carry products from Israel. Specifically, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit as well as Israeli herbs in the produce section of local Sobey’s stores.

It is also interesting to note that two of your major competitors in Winnipeg, Walmart and the Real Canadian Superstore—are not carrying Israeli fruit or other Israeli produce in their stores.

Recently, I was in Sobey’s Unicity store in Winnipeg and was taken aback to see store staff giving out samples of Orri Oranges (Product of Israel) to customers. Given Israel’s unrelenting 7 month Genocide against the Palestinian people of Gaza—this is completely unacceptable.

On Saturday, May 25, Israeli military forces attacked al-Nazla School in Saftaway, on the outskirts of the Jabalia refugee camp where hundreds of Palestinians were sheltering. Children were playing in the schoolyard when it we was bombed. Unfortunately as you well know this is only one of many horrifying attacks that Israel has committed against Palestinian civilians since October 7, 2023.

Last week (Friday, May 24) the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel must “immediately” halt its genocide in Gaza at once—yet it continues, with impunity. The Court described the humanitarian situation in the southern section of Gaza where hundreds of thousands of civilians are sheltering, as “disastrous”. You may not think this has anything to do with groceries but it does—as Sobey’s stores continue to sell and promote Israeli products in the midst of an ongoing genocide. As a regular Sobey’s shopper, I find this completely unconscionable.

Since October, Israeli forces have killed close to 40,000 people in Gaza—70% of them are women and children. Moreover, over 80,000 people have also been wounded, and more than 17,000 children are now orphans. Israel has deployed 6,000 bombs per week against the civilian population of Gaza. Israel has been deploying America supplied MK84 2,000-pound bombs and MK84 500-pound bombs. No one is spared from the bombing, not even infants, yet for companies like Sobey’s, it’s simply business as usual with Israel as you continue to sell their oranges and grapefruit in your stores, which in itself is a violation of International Law.

The United Nations Guiding Principles make clear that companies have a responsibility to respect standards of international law. Israel is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Convention and the Hague Regulations of 1907. Israel’s continuous construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are directly in violation of these conventions, regulations and numerous UN Resolutions.

Therefore, any crops harvested from illegal settlements are in direct violation of international criminal law and may constitute war crimes.Now, as Israel engages in a ground invasion in Rafah, almost 1 million Palestinian civilians are currently displaced.

I note with interest that your website states “We endorse the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Core Conventions of the International Labour Organizations and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”. Yet you continue to carry products from a state that has killed thousands of children since October 7 and has left thousands more permanently disabled and disfigured.

Moreover, Israel itself is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet as we speak they are determined to annihilate as many children as possible in their war on Gaza’s civilian population and infrastructure.

Your website also states that Sobey’s “Focuses on Human Rights in Our Supply Chain”, this couldn’t be further from the truth because you continue to carry Israeli grapefruit and oranges in your stores.

A recent ICJ ruling stated that Israel is committing a “plausible genocide” in Gaza, which means, by continuing to carry Israeli products which support the Israeli economy, Sobey’s is indirectly contributing to the ongoing Genocide in Gaza.

Since last November I have been in communication with Sobeys-Unicity manager Jayson McLean here in Winnipeg about why these Israeli products are especially offensive. I also reported the same store to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in December for improperly posting the Country of Origin in the produce section (in this instance an Israeli fruit display was actually labelled “Product of South Africa”, which is completely misleading to consumers). Canadian consumers have a right to make conscientious decisions based on where a product is grown or manufactured.

I understand the CFIA Western Canada representatives visited the store and the issue of mislabelling has for now been rectified, however the fact that Sobeys continues to carry Israeli fruit at all, especially when Israel has been found to be committing Genocide in Gaza (according to the recent International Court of Justice ruling), is completely unacceptable to your customers who support Palestinian Justice and Liberation.

Last week I was in your Unicity Store here in Winnipeg and noticed bags of Orri oranges labelled “Product of Israel” displayed prominently. I would ask that Sobey’s Canada rethink this type of display and the impact it has on its customers, Canadians who support the Palestinian people and who have been calling for a permanent ceasefire for the past 7 months to end the unrelenting bombing of Gaza.

Every fifteen minutes a child in Gaza is killed by Israeli air strikes. Save the Children recently reported that the number of children killed in Gaza in just three weeks since Oct 7 has surpassed the annual number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019.

Israel’s scorched earth policy has levelled over half of the residential homes in Gaza, leaving some 1.4 million internally displaced Palestinian refugees. The population of Gaza is primarily made up refugees and their descendants from the 1948 Nakba, when Zionist military forces forcibly transferred 750,000 Palestinians out of their historic Indigenous homeland. Therefore, for many Palestinians who live in Gaza, this is the second time Israel is attempting to transfer them somewhere else once again.

Israel has dropped some 25,000 tons of explosives — the equivalent of 2 atomic bombs — on Gaza. Furthermore, Israel has also indiscriminately dropped white phosphorus bombs on the people of Gaza. White phosphorus  can cause deep and severe burns, penetrating through tissue and bone and has also been known to reignite after initial medical treatment. In severe cases death may occur from shock, renal failure, heart attack or damage to the central nervous system.

We must not lose sight of the fact that Palestinians in Gaza do not have an Iron Dome Defense system like Israelis and they also do not have bomb shelters to take shelter in. In fact, they do not even have air raid sirens to warn them of incoming missiles. Israel is waging an unrelenting bombing campaign on a civilian population and there is nowhere for the people to run.

There are absolutely no safe places for Palestinians to take shelter in. None.

Israel has repeatedly bombed hospitals, medical clinics, apartment blocks, family homes, schools, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN buildings. In many cases, people were taking shelter from Israeli bombing in these very same buildings.

As of today, at least 36,096 people have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, including well over 15,000 children, while 81,136 people are now wounded. Considering these numbers, how can Sobey’s, a well-respected Canadian grocer, continue to carry Israeli agricultural products? This is completely unacceptable and violates your own code of conduct.

These are War Crimes happening in real time before the very eyes of Canadians.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has now issued arrests warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant. The ICC have been methodically compiling many acts of War Crimes perpetrated by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza since 2014.

The UN’s humanitarian office reports that 40 percent of Gaza’s population, or 900,000 people have been forcibly displaced by Israeli attacks in the past 2 weeks.

Yet Sobey’s continues to carry Israeli oranges and grapefruit and ignores the fact that Israel is currently perpetrating Genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. This is unacceptable and an affront to the human rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.

Over the past several months, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Canada as well as millions of citizens around the world to protest Israel’s unrelenting military attack on Gaza, yet by carrying Israeli products Sobey’s is contributing to this Genocide by continuing to support Israel’s economy.

Last year, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli Human Rights organization B’tselem all declared that Israel practices Apartheid against the Palestinian people.

Sobey’s contributes much to our community through its fundraising and charitable work, yet to continue selling Israeli products in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe that has left thousands of children dead is not good publicity for Sobey’s, nor does it reflect well on the Sobey’s brand.

Fruits and vegetables are one of Israel’s biggest exports and all of Israel’s agricultural exporters are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law as they operate on stolen Palestinian land.

In closing, I sincerely request that you stand on the right side of history—on the side of humanity and immediately terminate sales of Israeli products as well as your contracts with Israeli suppliers at Sobey’s stores across Canada.

Please feel free to contact me.

I would be more than willing to meet engage with you further to discuss how Sobeys should move forward in order to stand for human rights in all of our communities across Canada.



Candice Bodnaruk



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