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Peace Oil in Guildford

Keith Parkins | 13.11.2010 02:21 | Palestine | Repression | Terror War | World

So-called Peace oil is an Israeli product that is on sale in the run-up to Christmas in churches across London and the Home Counties.

Peace Oil from Israel
Peace Oil from Israel

all is not as it seems
all is not as it seems

misleading claims
misleading claims

donation made to a slimming club
donation made to a slimming club

"The world needs to wake up to what is happening in Palestine. It demands a response from all of us." -- Rev Canon Garth Hewitt

Peace Oil is an Israeli olive oil on sale through Card Aid in churches across London and the Home Counties.

It is being sold with misleading claims that lead consumers to believe it is an ethical, fairtrade product. It is not, the claims, that it various groups are working together, that the profits go to Middle East Peace Initiatives, have been shown to be false.

It is produced on an Israeli farm that employs Palestinians, any taxes paid go to support the Israeli state. A donation was made to a slimming club.

One church in which so-called Peace Oil is on sale is St Mary's Chuch in Guildford.

Myself and others have e-mailed the Parish Office and the rector Robert Cotton, to get no response.

No response that is until I paid a visit to the Diocese of Guildford office on Tuesday, with at their request an e-mail detailing my concerns sent that night. The following day an e-mail was received from the rector of St Mary's.

He can see nothing wrong with Peace Oil on sale in St Mary's. Indeed he takes no interest in what they sell. He fails to mention that St Mary's has a direct financial interest in Card Aid setting up shop in the church. [see exchange of e-mails below]

The irony is that St Mary's and their sister church Holy Trinity sell Zaytoun Palestinian olive, a fairtrade olive oil, though not enough to satisfy demand.

The second irony was that the reply from the rector was during Boycott Israel week!

If you want to make a difference then buy Zaytoun olive Oil. If you wish to help Middle East peace initiative, then make a donation to FRRME.

Israeli Apartheid: Hosted by West Surrey Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid and campaign co-ordinator of A Just Peace for Palestine, will talk of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Action to remove Peace Oil from St Mary's will also be discussed. 7-30pm Thursday 18 November 2010, St Nicolas Parish Centre, Guildford.

Also see

Bethlehem Hidden from View

Norman Finkelstein vs Wolf Blitzer – Israel/Palestine Double Standards


belated reply from Robert Cotton, Rector of St Mary's

In response to a number of recent e-mails about the sale of olive oil at St Mary's Guildford, I would like to say this parish has for a number of years been selling Zaytoun fairly traded Olive Oil. As soon as shipments come in, it sells out. This is the only olive oil that we as a parish stock and sell. Such oil is frequently on sale in Holy Trinity Church, and less frequently so in St Mary's (because the number attending worship there is so much less). It would be gracious if those who have been alleging on web-sites or in e-mails that St Mary's sells Peace Oil correct this inaccuracy.

We have an agreement with Card Aid that they use St Mary's for their operations for 3 months in the build up to Christmas. We do not vet their products, nor are we responsible for what they sell, say or do. If people want to challenge the Card Aid operations then they should do so directly with Card Aid. I am concerned to hear of intimidating and lengthy conversations with Card Aid employees happening in St Mary's about Olive Oil. Such behaviour is not worthy of the important issues that need to be explored as we seek to support needy farmers in the middle east.

What Palestine/Israel needs is for people of different opinions to respect each other and work together. That needs to be modelled in this country by those who are supportive of groups in the middle east. I would welcome Card Aid being challenged on their policies and practices in a suitable way. I would gladly know the outcome of such discussions.

Best wishes

Robert Cotton
Rector, Holy Trinity and St Mary's


detailed reply from myself (and others have made similar points in their replies)

Penny's response to Rev Cotton

John's response to Rev Cotton

Keith's response to Rev Cotton (reproduced below)

I’ve been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about. -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Israelis claim they are the elect of God and find a biblical justification for their Zionist exclusivity. This is just like the Afrikaners of apartheid. -- Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa’s intelligence minister

Don't confuse this website (PeaceOil.NET) with PeaceOil.ORG. Peace Oil on this website is genuine Palestinian olive oil from West Bank Palestinian farmers and Palestinian farmers living within the green line, whereas PeaceOil.ORG is providing a misleading description about the source of its olive oil. -- Peace Oil USA

It was time for the annual Passover celebration, and Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their counters. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers' coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. -- John 2:13-15 (New Living Bible)

I am pleased that you have finally found the time to respond to the grave concerns people have to the so-called Peace Oil on sale at St Mary's but your reply does not even begin to address the concerns being raised.

I am pleased to hear you sell Zaytoun fairtrade Palestinian olive oil therefore you must have some understanding of the issues involved, the destruction of olive groves, the destruction of olives when ready for harvesting, the denial of access to harvest the grapes, the difficulties encountered exporting the oil, etc. That your consignment of Zaytoun sells out quickly demonstrates there to be a demand for a quality olive oil, an ethical product. It begs the question why not obtain more?

Israeli so-called Peace Oil may be a quality product (tasters are not available) but it certainly is not an ethical product. It is not fairtrade. The information provided in St Mary's to accompany this product is designed to be deliberately misleading.

-- Peace Oil is produced in Israel by Arabs, Jews, Druze and Bedouins working together. --

Not True. It is an Israeli farm employing Palestinians. Palestinians are employed because they are cheap labour. I recall under Apartheid white farmers employing Black labourers.

-- Profits from Peace Oil are used to support peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East. --

-- Peace Oil encourages co-operation between communities. By helping to market their produce it helps to bring economic prosperity to such enterprises, encouraging others to follow their example. --

Again not true. To date no evidence has been produced of support for peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East, but I do find Peace Oil is promoted by hard-line Zionists, is on sale at trade fairs at the same trade fairs is property for sale on occupied land. Yes, it probably does bring prosperity to the Israeli enterprise that produces it, the taxes going to support the Israeli military state. Oh yes, I must not forget, a donation was made to a slimming club. The Israeli State kindly promotes a nationwide slimming club, it is called the Siege of Gaza.

If you wish to support cooperation between different communities, support economic prosperity and enterprise, then you support fairtrade Zaytoun who are open and transparent about what they do and where the money goes. If you wish to support peace and reconciliation work in the Middle East then you support FRRME, but you support neither by supporting Peace Oil.

It is not only Palestinians groups who are criticising the sale of Peace Oil, it is Israeli peace and human rights groups too.

Peace Oil in the UK should not of course be confused with Peace Oil in States, which is a fairtrade Palestinian olive oil.

If a product is on sale in a church, then unless advised otherwise, it is reasonable to assume that it is the church selling it. Several people who have spoken to me thought the oilive oil on sale in St Mary's was by the church. Your own caretaker told me he thought the Peace Oil was what the church sells and was therefore suprised at the hike in price. I am shocked you are so disinterested in what is going on on church premises. I understand from Card Aid you are getting rent from their use of St Mary's, thus you have a direct financial interest in what they are selling. I would also suggest you take a closer interest in how much of the sale price of the cards actually goes to the charities. 100% profit is a meaningless statement.

I find it a slur your comment on those who seem to have a higher moral standard than the church, who have questioned what is on sale in St Mary's, something you admit you have failed to do. Without lengthy conversation, how is anyone to be thorough? You welcome Card Aid being challenged, then object when people do. If Card Aid do not like being questioned, then maybe they should stop making misleading statements about their products, better still withdraw Peace Oil from sale and replace it with a genuine fairtrade product, for example Zaytoun, which meets the claims they are falsely making for Peace Oil.

I cannot comment on others, but I have not intimidated the Card Aid staff and can see no reason to do so. I have though had a female who was there on a Saturday get very aggressive and obnoxious when she was questioned on what was on sale. I have also been blatantly lied to.

I was told that Peace Oil USA has withdrawn their criticism of Peace Oil UK. When I pointed out that it was still on their website, I was told they had not got around to withdrawing it. I checked with Peace Oil USA and they told me they had not withdrawn their criticism of Peace Oil UK, could see no reason to do so, and furthermore their questions to Peace Oil UK remained unanswered.

I was told Peace Oil had been rated by the Independent as the best olive oil on the market. Not only can I not find this, I can find no mention of Peace Oil by the Independent.

Friends Meeting House in London had Peace Oil on sale, but it was withdrawn when they found it was not the ethical product it claims to be. It would seem they operate to somewhat higher moral and ethical standards than St Mary's.

Peace Oil was launched at the same time as Zaytoun as a spoiling operation for the Zaytoun oil. It was launched with an advertising campaign on the Tube. This somehow does not tally with helping needy farmers in the Middle East.

I find it a very sad day when a church fails to take a moral stance, worse by your own admission turns a blind eye, to what is happening on its own premises. It is easy to see why secular society sees the church today as a moral irrelevance.

Keith Parkins

Keith Parkins
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