ISSAQUAH, Wash. – Appeals are being sent out via the Internet urging consumers to boycott Costco Wholesale Corp. here for selling Israeli products, including clementines, a variety of mandarin orange.
The emails say there is an international boycott against Israeli products because of alleged genocide last year in the Gaza Strip region. Pro-Israel groups are responding by urging Americans to support the sale of Israeli goods at Costco.
A Costco executive told SN Thursday that it has moved with the season and is now buying clementines from Spain – not because of any pressure from groups who objected to the sale of Israeli-grown clementines.
Jeff Lyons, senior vice president, fresh foods, told SN the company had received a phone call more than a month ago from a consumer who expressed concern with Costco’s sale of clementines from Israel because of alleged genocide in the Gaza Strip region.
Lyons said the executive who took the call gave the consumer the phone number of the produce buyer. That number was circulated on the Intenet, “and the buyer was subsequently besieged with so many calls for and against us carrying clementines that we had to change the phone number,” Lyons said.
Costco will continue buying clementines as the seasons change – from vendors in Spain, then from sources in Northern and Southern California, then from sellers in Israel, Spain and California again, he said. “But we are concerned that some people will think we bowed to pressure, while others will think we did the right thing in switching suppliers. But the truth is, we transition from one growing area to another as part of our regular policy, and our vendors know that, and it has nothing to do with this debate,” Lyons said.