Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, a member of the Reykjavík City Council for the center-left Social Democrats, called on consumers to boycott all Israeli products earlier this week in response to Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. She has also encouraged the Icelandic government to do the same on a larger scale by instituting an official boycott.
Björk, the wife of Sveinn Rúnar Hauksson, chairman of the Iceland-Palestine Association, shared a picture of packaged Israeli herbs on her Facebook page, asking people not to buy them or other Israeli products, and to share pictures of Israeli products wherever they found them in the same manner so that people would know what to avoid.
The picture Björk shared was of imported Israeli rosemary and chives, which according to her are not necessary to import, as they are easy to grow in most climates, even Iceland’s.
“Herbs grow everywhere and they are so easy to cultivate, especially chives which are considered a weed in many gardens. So I think it’s a little bit funny that we’re selling chives all the way from Israel in Icelandic stores. So I think people might as well come to my garden, or just the next garden available to them, to get these herbs instead of buying Israeli ones. That’s more than fine with me. Everyone is welcome.”
According to Statistics Iceland, the value of imported goods from Israel was just under ISK 720 million in 2013.
The Iceland-Palestine Association, which lists amongst its goals establishing a positive and fair outlook amongst the Icelandic people towards both Israelis and Palestinians, has distributed a list of Israeli products to avoid, pointing out that their product numbers start with 729.
The association claims that it has adopted this policy as a means to force the Israeli government to act according to UN resolutions regarding occupied Palestine, and not to create hostilities with the Israeli people.
Others have also called for a boycott of Israel. The owner of the largest mobile home rental service in Iceland, Steinarr Lár of Go Campers and KúKú Campers, decided earlier this week not to service Israelis until their government chooses a different course of action in regards to Palestine.
He claimed that his decision was unrelated to anti-Semitism and has nothing to do with Israelis as people, whom he describes as no worse than anyone else, but is rather a political move designed to put pressure on the Israeli government.
“What’s happening is really nothing other than genocide and the international community is looking the other way. The only thing I can do is to not service the people who come from the country responsible and pressure them into calling on their government to behave differently,” Steinarr said in an interview with visir.is.
Up to 2,000 people gathered in Lækjartorg square in central Reykjavík on Monday to protest the airstrikes.
Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson has also expressed deep concern over the conflict.
According to the BBC, Israel’s foreign minister and Hamas have denied earlier reports of a truce deal to end the fighting in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militants.