The little pink icon, Hello Kitty, is not so cute when so closely associated with apartheid Israel. You may want to veer away from Hello Kitty back-to-school items until Sanrio withdraws its contract to allow Leader Brands of Israel to open as many as 18 stores in Israel.
Palestine solidarity is indeed a global movement. I recently had the chance to visit Japan. Staying in a university town there, I had the rare opportunity to meet with a representative of the BDS movement in Japan. As we sat in a small cafe near a huge Buddhist temple, I thought about how far-reaching the BDS movement really is!
Japan’s BDS movement had a big victory when the Muji retail store recently backed out of a contract to open a store in Israel. Muji’s customers, who often patronized the store for its “environmentally conscious” stand, were invaluable in the campaign, they rallied with the BDS movement, and with skits, letters and phone calls, the store got the message: “Its not environmentally conscious to break the call to boycott Israel. “
A campaign in the works in Japan is now called “Bye Bye Kitty.” The famous Hello Kitty parent company is based in Japan.
- Sanrio was asked not to open stores in Israel.
- The reasons for boycott and the clear violations of International Law by Israel, as well as the call of the BDS movement (www.bdsmovement.net) were explained to Sanrio, prior to the opening of their first store in Israel.
- Sanrio did issue a response, that it would still seek to do business with Leader Brands in Israel. The first store was opened in Givatayim in late June, 2011.
The Japanese BDS movement anticipates a campaign that will gain momentum at a slow steady pace. Japan is reeling from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the tsumani that killed over 18,400 people. 452,000 people are still living in temporary shelters. Humanitarian efforts are focused on helping these victims. Also, Sanrio’s customer base includes young busy parents, they are often hard to reach with the BDS message.
One thing is for certain, though, as long as the Kitty is in Israel, Sanrio cannot market her as an ethically conscious product. Many other back-to-school options exist, and Bye-Bye Kitty will not go away until Sanrio closes its present store in Givatayim and pulls out of Israel.