Ivan Saltzman, the chief executive of pharmacy giant Dis-Chem, is embroiled in an ugly spat with a Durban woman over the retailer’s decision to sell Israeli-made skin care products.
The spat began when Fathima Moosa visited the Westwood Mall branch of Dischem and noticed that they were selling Dead Sea products made in Israel.
She later submitted an online letter of complaint, asking them to remove the products on the basis that Israel’s “human rights violations replicate Hitler’s Nazism”.
After Dis-Chem’s initial response that the products were not going to be removed, Moosa demanded that her e-mail be forwarded to top management.
Twenty days later, Saltzman responded to her personally, telling her that likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations was a “a scurrilous slur that you have clearly chosen to employ in order to give maximum offence”.
The spat which has since seen the Islamic Media Review Network get involved with an open letter to Saltzman now threatens to turn into boycott of Dis-Chem by pro-Palestinian groups in SA.
Moosa's original email to the website stated:
i visited your store in westwood mall, durban, and noticed that you stock products from Israel. as a south african who lived under oppression, i was very upset to see that your store imports products from a country whose human rights violations replicate hitler's nazism. please consider removing israeli products from your shelves.
Dear FathimaMoosa responded:
Thank you for contacting us. I have brought this matter to the attention of one of our Directors who has advised that we will not consider removing the Israeli products from Dis-Chem stores.
Dawn de Klerk
I am very disappointed by your response.
Please forward this mail to your director, whom I believe is a caring individual. ( I am formerly from Pretoria, and I know that he does a lot of charity).
It is very easy for us to rise to the defense of those who are from our brethren, but the nobler response is to do what's right, even if its the unpopular choice.
The jews of many organisations nationally and internationally have nobly and amazingly distanced themselves from the israeli regime, and have been at the forefront of the call for sanctions against Israel, because of their racist and inhumane policies.
Please google, "nkusa", "young jewish and proud", "rabbis against Israel", Ronnie Kasrils: "not in my name".
Among all these voices, are Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, and many Israeli MPs who urge the world to end the madness.
I hope and trust that your good judgement and commitment to the values enshrined in the Torah, allow you to make the right decision.
Happy is the man who renounces everything that puts a strain on his conscience.
After all, we are all the children of Abraham.
And here is CEO Ivan Saltzman's unapolgetic response:
Dear Fatima Moosa
I will begin by answering your likening Israel’s supposed human rights violations to Hitler’s Nazism, a scurrilous slur that you have clear chosen to employ in order to give maximum offense. I think you well know that the crimes of the Nazi regime involved the deliberate mass murder of millions of civilians, largely Jews, as a matter of planned policy. Is this really what Israel is doing. Obviously not – in fact it does completely the opposite. Israel goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize civilian casualties and has been extremely successful in this regard. Palestinian (or for that matter Lebanese) casualties have been a tiny fraction of what they would have been if Israel had truly adopted a Nazi-like extermination policy, given the massive military capability it has at its disposal.
In fact, it is very easy to identify the true modern-day Nazis in the Middle East. They are found in the ranks of such murderous extremist groupings as Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestine Islamic Jihad (amongst others), all of which regard the mass murder of Israeli Jews as the noblest goal their followers can aspire to. Have you ever thought what the consequences would be if Israel were to adopt the same kind of tactics against the Palestinian population? Mass slaughter would indeed ensue, but fortunately Israel, no matter what the provocation, has not nor will not ever stoop to such depths.
So far as your stated intention of boycotting Dis-Chem goes, that is obviously your decision. After all, we do live in a free country. However, if it is your intention to boycott Israeli products, you need to be consistent If your gesture is to have any meaning. I hope you don’t use an intel chip in your computer with which you probably wrote your e-mail because it was invented in Israel. I hope that you stay in good health because if you need preventative surgery against a heart attack, you will have to boycott the procedure because guess what? The stent was invented in Israel! Likewise, I hope you are never prescribed any patch for diabetes, to deliver medication and other drugs. If you are an asthmatic you may have to use a new type of inhaler (Spin) invented in Israel. So please check! Israel has given the world the system of drip irrigation which is being widely adopted in South Africa with water shortages like many countries. Should you boycott all fruit and vegetables grown by this method. The list that Israel has given the world is very lengthy. Check very carefully what you boycott.
You may not have noticed the crisis in the Arab world, “Arab Spring” which now is in Winter with no end in sight. To the best of my knowledge this over human rights but then I have an HD TV which you are probably boycotting. The cheapness of life in Somalia and Sudan is perpetrated by people who you are strongly affiliated to. You obviously don’t know what the racism of Hitler differs very little to Israel’s enemies. Both want the destruction of the Jewish people.
I believe I had to answer your “complaint”. I will continue to sell Dead Sea products from Israel. You know the Dead Sea has two shores. I wonder why the Jordanians or Palestinians (most come from Jordan) do not want to share this wonderful natural resource of the Dead Sea.
I will not respond to any further correspondence on your subject.
IVAN SALTZMAN | CHIEF EXCECUTIVE OFFICER
23 Stag Rd, Allandale, Midrand, South Africa
A Muslim organization in South Africa, Media Review Network, responds with a lengthy letter that actually defends Moosa's characterization of Israel as engaging in Nazi-like behavior.
Unsurprisingly, MRN explicitly supports Hamas and terrorism against Israelis (saying the Shalit prisoner swap "vindicates any and all resistance options to oppression must be employed against the brutal Zionist occupation of their lands.")