Dec 2, 2010

#BDS: My Experience at a Palestinian Shop in San Francisco

Having moved from Beirut, Lebanon to Modesto, California no more than a month ago, the idea of meeting Arabs, let alone Palestinians, in the US is still quite an exciting experience to me.

I went shopping in San Francisco at Samiramis, a Palestinian grocery store, with my husband yesterday. Black and white photos of famous Arab stars including Fairouz, Abdel Halim Hafez, Umm Kulthoum and others hung on the wall inside the shop. One of the photos showed Amr Diab, an Egyptian singer, along with the shop owner. The latter explained that he was a music agent back in the eighties. There were also photos of Jesus, some Saints and several small statues of Nefertiti and other pharaohs.

On the right side of the shop were piles of paraphernalia of belly dancers, kufiyyas, abayas, old and new Arabic albums on cassette, CD and LP. Despite already having a few, I decided to buy two kufiyas: one in black and white stripes; the other in red and white stripes. To the left were Arabic plays and movies on DVD and different kinds of bread. Arabic sweets, cheese, and all sorts of canned foods were displayed inside the store.

When we were done with our shopping and just before leaving, given that we both are BDS obsessed, my husband thought about asking the shop owner if he sells Israeli products. To our utmost surprise, his answer was a YES! Not knowing that it’s against the law in the US, I addressed the shop owner with the next question: Do you allow Israelis to shop at your store? To my shock, the answer was another YES! The shop owner explained that an Arab sells him those Israeli products, and that his Israeli clients ask for those brands in particular, otherwise they would do their shopping elsewhere.

After hearing from us about the importance of maintaining a boycott against Israel, I demanded that the shop owner show me those products and asked if I can take photos of them. He accepted. It was my first encounter with products made in the Zionist entity. I held one of the cans in my hand and stared at it: I felt betrayed. I looked at the store owner and said: You sell products that are manufactured in an entity that has occupied your land and expelled your people: No! Business is not business!

Feeling embarrassed, the shop owner resorted to defending himself by implying that he supported the resistance against Israel back in the sixties, which, in my opinion, only makes his current involvement with the Israelis even more unjustifiable.  

Making sure that none of the items we had bought were of Israeli origin, my husband and I left the store, both upset and disappointed.

Here are the pictures taken yesterday:


  1. ان كان لا يهم صاحب هذا المحل قضايا الوطن فلنقاطعه جميعا وعليه أن يكتفي بمجموعة الحثالة التي يريد الحفاظ عليها بمستوردات تهمهم من صنع القتلة لبمستوطنين!
    لنقاطع ولا نعاود الدخول اليه واشهار ما يقوم به!

  2. its because you have a heart Farah, a lot of us have hearts that are alredy dead.

  3. First, l7amdillah 3a salemeh.
    You will notice many things the israelis are trying to infiltrate outside the realm of their culture; falafel is not an eastern european menu item for example, nor is hummus which they try to sell. However, the store owners dilemma, somewhere between trying to make a living and avoiding conflict with some customers/neighbors and making political decisions. His is minute on the large scale of the political arena where some of our staunch arab supporters and leaders are huge on lip service wil be2i 3a Allah.

    If you make it to that store again you may want to suggest to the store owner carrying Lebanese, or local american brands, usually manufactured by american arabs, and placing them side by side to israeli products and promoting them by a price reduction tempting his customers to try them. Maybe the customers would switch to hopefully a better product..

    By the way, you have "Cortas" in one of the pictures. I believe this is a Lebanese product, actually sure of it.

    It is commendable that you brought the issue to the store owner's attention. He will be paying more attention to his purchases I suppose.

  4. The Crux of the Palestinian problem did not reside in our weakness and their strength, rather in our apathy and their dedication, in our ignorance and their knowledge, in our hypocritical embrace of our religion and their steadfastness even if it is a remnant of their diabolical forgery.

    We were once the greatest power on the face of the Earth; militarily, economically and ideologically, and until we have regained at least some of those factors, not only will Palestine remain occupied but we will also keep losing other lands such as Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti ...

    And God only knows what the enemies of humanity would do if Egypt ever gets a truly Muslim government; for they know that what Egypt gets, the rest of the Arab and Muslim world will get.