Below the article, is a first hand account of someone who went there today to buy shoes. A fellow known to this blog’s mother in fact. Thanks for the extra info M.
Photograph by: Dave Sidaway, Gazette file photo
Québec solidaire leader Amir Khadir is making no apologies for asking clients to boycott a family-owned shoe store in his own riding because it sells shoes made in Israel.
“Just because a business is in my riding, I am not going to abandon my principles,” Khadir, member of the National Assembly for Mercier, told The Gazette on Friday.
Khadir participated in a demonstration last Saturday in front of Le Marcheur shoe store on St. Denis St. at Duluth Ave., handing out flyers asking customers to boycott the store until it stopped selling Israeli-made shoes.
The demonstration was organized by Palestinian and Jewish Unity, a Montreal-based human rights group that advocates for the right of Palestinians to live in safety.
Khadir said he was asked to join the demonstration by PAJU members, and that he has participated in other PAJU demonstrations, in front of Chapters bookstore, for example, and the Israeli consulate.
PAJU has been holding regular pickets outside the Le Marcheur store since early October, because the store sells Beautifeel shoes, a brand made in Israel.
Yves Archambault, owner of Le Marcheur, said he was “sickened” to learn his own MNA was picketing his store.
“I was sickened to see him distributing flyers and stopping people who were coming into the store to tell them they shouldn’t support a business that sells Israeli products,” Archambault said.
“In Quebec we have free enterprise, and as long as it is legal, nobody has the right to tell me what I can and cannot sell in my store,” he said.
Archambault said he is “completely apolitical” and does not follow politics here or abroad. He admits he had no idea who Khadir was, until some of his employees told him.
He said he feels personally attacked by the picketers, and Khadir’s participation has made it worse.
Khadir emailed Archambault a few weeks before participating in the picket to ask him to stop selling Israeli-made products, and to explain the PAJU’s reasons for demanding a boycott of Israeli-made products and stores that sell them.
Archambault said he did not respond, because he is not interested in talking about politics.
“I don’t care where my products come from. I only care about comfort and quality,” he said.
But Khadir said business owners need to be made aware of their own power to make change. He says his party supports business but wants to get away from the “Walmart economy” and move toward fair and responsible commerce.
“Gandhi said: ‘Business without conscience is a crime,’ and buying and selling is voting,” Khadir said.
“Mr. Archambault doesn’t have to know everything, but when Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu are saying that Israel is practising apartheid, he has to take it seriously,” Khadir said.
Archambault said he has no intention of changing his product line.© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Below is a first hand account of attempting to buy a pair of shoes at Le Marcheur in Montreal by a reader of Vlad:
My mother just came back from purchasing Israeli-made shoes from the store in down town Montreal that is being subjected to a boycott because it sells Israeli-made shoes. Twenty people showed up to buy shoes after Eric Duhaime called on Montrealers to show solidarity with the embattled store owner. She, with others, was greeted by about a hundred threatening Arabs with Hezbollah flags shouting anti-Semitic slogans and blocking the street completely. She says that several intimidating Arabs took her picture as she was going inside and one was even filming. One young Arab called her a Jewish sow. The store owner is getting death threats and is seriously depressed. He said that he won’t give in to these terrorists’ demands. But how long can he keep it up before going out of business? Montreal in 2010.
Embarrassed by the active presence and a demonstration encouraging the boycott of a small business in his district, the deputy Amir Khadir attempted to explain himself yesterday by stating there was a “huge misunderstanding” between himself and the shoe dealer Yves Archambeault.
Last Saturday, out of solidarity the Quebec deputy positioned himself in front of the Boutique Le Marcheur on St-Denis St to distribute pamphlets calling for a boycott of Mr. Archambeault’s business under the pretext that a few models of a brand of shoes were Israeli-made.
During an interview for the paper, the owner said he was disgusted to find himself harassed and intimidated in this manner by his own deputy. “It’s a terrible misunderstanding; it’s forbidden, the deputy said on the microphone of Benoi Dutrizac of 98.5 FM. I will go see him to tell him I do not want to be a nuisance. I just want to make a little headway with him to see how we can solve this problem he brought up.”
This problem in the eyes of the deputy is the politics of the Israeli government, which he accuses of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians. Mr Khadir says he believes boycotts like the one at the boutique Le Marcheur can bring an end to this situation, just as in the case of South Africa in the 1980s.
“I have bad news for you, Amir Khadir,” replied the host. “It is not by protesting in front of the boutique Le Marcheur of St-Denis St that change will come.”
“It is small gestures everywhere..” replied M. Khadir
The deputy opens the door elsewhere for boycotts of other businesses that may be selling Israeli products. “If you find others, we will have to call upon boycotters to do the same thing. We will not discriminate. We will encourage everyone to make a responsible gesture,” he insisted.
According to him, Israel must be boycotted more than China, for example, because it is an excessively strong country.
“In Israel there is a state of apartheid. China is not there yet. We’re not talking about the same thing,” he said, without mentioning that China is a totalitarian country and non-democratic. Also occupying Tibet by the strength of its executions.
Changing Tone, Amir Khadir continues to say he is ready to “encourage people to go to the boutique (Le Marcheur) to purchase things other than Israeli products.”
However, the owner is adamant in stating: the deputy was inciting his clients verbally not to enter his shop. During the demonstration on Saturday, the deputy, accompanied by other protesters, requested that he come out of his boutique to discuss it with them.
According to Mr. Archambeault the context was rather intimidating. “He said, are you the owner? Me, I said no, but his friend next to him said yes, I was.” So Khadir said to me: “Come out on the street, we’ll talk together.” I said no, and he said “Me, I don’t go into your business,” but I did not go and discuss it with him; I knew it would be wasted time.