Sainsbury's condemned for taking kosher food off shelves during pro-Palestinian protest

Demonstrators in London were calling for a boycott of Israeli goods

Kosher food was taken off the shelves in a London Sainsbury’s branch that became a target of anti-Israel protests amid fears it would be vandalised, sparking outrage among shoppers.

The decision to remove Jewish products came as pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the shop in Holborn calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Sainsbury’s said there were fears the kosher area could be attacked but the move provoked outrage on social media as people accused the chain of making a “political statement”.

A witness who took a picture of the empty shelf said the section had contained produce made in the UK, Poland and Israel.

Colin Appleby wrote: “When I asked a member of staff what had happened they replied ‘We support Free Gaza’.

“I didn't try to point out that kosher goods were not Israeli goods but they walked away.”

The company’s Facebook page was inundated with complaints from around the world over the decision, with many pointing out the distinction between Jewish and Israeli products.

Gavin Platman, who made an official complaint to Sainsbury’s, said the removal of kosher goods was “deeply offensive”.

“Naturally I am against the death of innocent children in Gaza, so why are you persecuting me by denying me the right to buy Kosher food?” he added.

“I presume you are also removing Halal food in protest against the Islamic State slaughtering Yazidis. Clearly not – therefore you have blurred the line between political statement and hate crime.”

The incident on Saturday came on the same day a small group of protesters rushed into a Tesco in Birmingham and threw around products during a Gaza protest.

One witness described seeing demonstrators carrying Palestinian flags while chanting and behaving “aggressively” to people inside the store and police said one person was arrested for assaulting officers.

Countless protests have taken place across the UK since the start of Israel's bombardment of the Gaza strip last month, calling for a halt to the military operation that has so far killed an estimated 1,900 Palestinians.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said it was “an absolutely non-political organisation” and the food was returned as soon as possible.

He added: “It was an isolated decision made by in a very challenging situation. It was chilled food and [the manager] was simply trying to preserve it.

"It was the manager's decision there and then – not company policy at all.”

Video: London Gaza protests

There have been similar demonstrations where items have been removed, he said, and no disciplinary action will be taken against the branch manager.

Kosher food is prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, which forbid food including pork, shellfish and meat cooked in milk.

Read more: Gaza protests storm Tesco and 'assault police'
Israel must stop punishing Gaza’s people,’ pleads UN commissioner
Hamas leadership considers ceasefire offer
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?