The decision by the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCH) to decline any certification of goods and services emanating from Israel has been met mixed reaction.
The trust made the decision amidst the outbreak of violent conflict in the Middle-East between Israel and Palestine.
In a statement, the MJCHT, said the organisation was committed to ethical business practices in line with international law and human rights.
"As part of this commitment, the MJCHT declines the certification of any goods or services emanating from Israel. The MJCHT, furthermore, declines the certification of any Israeli based companies or their directly controlled foreign subsidiaries.”
The MJCHT is a certification body that provides halaal compliance certificates to companies that manufacture food and drink products as well as to restaurants and similar establishments.
"Certificates are voluntary, however, in practice, Muslims will not purchase a product that does not have a certificate from an authorised certification or compliance body (such as the MJCHT). Similarly, Muslims will also not eat at a restaurant that does not have a certificate from a compliance/certification body (such as the MJCHT)."
The statement said consequently, companies sought such certification before selling their products locally or exporting their goods to other countries, especially those that were Muslim-majority.
"Countries and economies with significant Muslim populations include Egypt, Mauritania, Algeria, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Tanzania, Senegal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, Qatar, (and) Pakistan
"The MJCHT decision, which is the first such decision in the world, should and will set an example for other such compliance and certification bodies. We call on all other halal certification bodies to adopt a similar position to that of the MJCHT."
The statement said: "Israeli companies and products not receiving such certification going forward will isolate them from major markets across the globe with colossal financial consequences.
"The message is clear – no normal trade with an abnormal country. Israel is paying for its violence, its violations of international law and abuse of the Palestinians. Muslims – who make up 2 billion of the world’s population – do not consume pork or alcohol. In addition, the foods that they do consume must follow certain dietary and preparation requirements."
It said once these requirements were met, a company or restaurant sought a certificate from an authorised Halaal Certification Body, such as the MJCHT, stating that the product of the restaurant was halaal.
"A company or restaurant with such a certificate can then market their product or restaurant as halal. A halaal certification body (that provides a certificate stating that a product or restaurant is halal) can be compared, with some limitation, to other certification bodies, such as bodies that provide compliance certificates confirming that a product is Kosher, free from nuts, free from animal cruelty, or free from gluten."
Tisetso Magama, the director of Africa4Palestine, said: "The MJCHT has adopted a policy position to decline, refuse and not certify any goods or services emanating from Israel – to boycott all such Israeli companies and products. This has major domestic and international implications as well as wide ranging financial and economic impact."
Wendy Kahn, the national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, said: "As a result of the war between Israel and Hamas, we are seeing this horrific conflict playing out in the streets of South Africa. We believe that religious leaders should do everything in their power to de-escalate the tensions between the Muslim and Jewish community at such a sensitive time."
She said actions like this only served to exacerbate the hostilities in our country.
"This is the role of religious leaders. Over the weekend the Palestinian Solidarity Alliance staged a protest into the Jewish areas of Johannesburg during our holy Sabbath when community members were leaving synagogue. This attack on our Jewish religious practice is something that the Muslim Judicial Council should be appalled by and stand up against."
Kahn said respect for fellow other communities was something that every religious leader should keep in mind.
"Provocative campaigns like marching on predominantly Jewish areas on the Sabbath during prayer times and using religious symbols like a halaal stamp to hurt SA Jewry, is something that is inconsistent with the values and principles of the South African constitution."
She said that minimal products would be affected.
"The majority of imported Israeli products are mostly for the exclusive use of the Jewish community who purchases them for our Kosher requirements. So this is more of a publicity stunt for the Muslim Judicial Council. It will have no impact at all. Products coming from Israel primarily service South Africa’s Jewish community who require Kosher products. We will continue to use them and enjoy these excellent quality items."
The EFF has called for a boycott of Woolworths and McDonald’s.
Julius Malema, the party's leader, accused Woolworths of stocking Israeli goods and McDonald’s of feeding the Israeli soldiers.
In a statement, Woolworths said they only stocked one product which was the pearl couscous.
"We are a proudly South African retailer, and our preference is always to source locally to meet our customers’ needs and aspirations. More than 90% of our food is local, and we source food products internationally only when a product is out of season or in specific instances when a product is not available locally. We always label our products’ country of origin clearly so that customers can make informed choices. At present, one product on our shelves is labelled as being imported from Israel and/or France based on availability of stock."
The statement continued: "Last year, in line with our commitment to inclusive growth, we contributed over R7 billion towards the revenues of 32 small and medium local enterprises in the Woolworths supplier value chain.
"In addition, consistent with our commitment to food security, Woolworths also donated almost R1 billion rands worth of surplus food to communities in need. Action against Woolworths is action against South Africans, South African farmers, producers and manufacturers. It hurts employment and growth which we all know we can ill-afford as a country – a sentiment we believe resonates with all our customers and stakeholders."
In a statement, McDonald's said: "McDonald’s in South Africa is a local enterprise, with full ownership and operation overseen by local management. We are not affiliated with McDonald’s operations in Israel, which is a locally owned Israeli enterprise.
"McDonald’s in Israel operates as a separate entity from McDonald’s South Africa and makes its own business and communications decisions, independent of the business in South Africa."