The Park Slope Food Co-op (full disclosure: I am a member!) makes it to the Daily Show:
The boycott was, of course, voted down in the end...at least for now...
By a vote of 1005-653 the Park Slope Food Co-op voted not to hold a referendum on boycotting Israeli products. Supporters argue that Israels human rights record towards the Palestinians is poor enough to warrant a boycott. Opponents argue that the boycott is inappropriate for the co-op, overly divisive to the membership, and unfairly singles out Israel when the co-op carries products from other countries that have human rights records similar to or worse than Israel's.
The vote shows that the boycott is unlikely to be embraced any time soon, but also shows that both sides are well represented among the membership. The letters section of the co-op's newsletter have been filled every single issue with letters from both sides. However, by now I think the majority of co-op members are sick of the whole issue and would prefer both sides give it a rest...or at least many letters to that effect have been published more recently.
To me the most disturbing thing about the boycott movement is a nearly complete unwillingness to even give credence to the other side. Opponents (and I am one of them) are often sympathetic to Palestinians (I am even open to a UN seat for Palestine) and highly critical of the right wing government of Israel. But not supportive of a boycott by the food co-op. So from that side there is common ground. I have even recommended a strategy that could possibly lead to a boycott of Israel without unfairly singling it out: set human rights criteria that a nation must meet or face a boycott by the co-op. This would mean China and Turkey would almost certainly be boycotted as well, but perhaps the free Tibet movement (which has called for a boycott of China) would like that. And Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek advocates call for a boycott of Turkey. Set standards in such a way as to boycott Israel and you almost certainly will see boycotts of other nations as well, but at least this would be consistent and fair. But the boycott movement ONLY wants to target Israel and won't listen to any suggestion that makes the boycott unbiased. This does little to reassure those who feel there is some degree of anti-Semitism on the boycott movement (something that is not necessarily there but too often seems to attract anti-Semites). read more »
So it seems that the drama in Park Slope - over whether or not the Co-Op food store there should or should not become the second such venture in the United States to boycott Israel and its products - the first and only is in Olympia, Washington, while several others have declined to participate - is finally coming to a head, with a vote on whether to have a vote scheduled tomorrow.
Having flown under the radar for quite some time, now, the political sphere is taking notice, and seems none too pleased.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a candidate for Mayor in 2013, entered the discussion Sunday afternoon by calling the potential boycott “an outrage to our collective values as New Yorkers.”
“The inflammatory proposal to boycott products from the State of Israel is wrongheaded and an affront to American values and interests,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “This movement—nationally and internationally—is a destructive force that must be stopped. It undermines America’s relationship with our steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and our strongest ally in the Middle East.”
“These are businesses that should be run as businesses,” Bloomberg said at the St. Patrick’s Parade yesterday in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “I certainly am adamantly opposed to boycotting Israeli products . . . Israel is a very important ally of America. We shouldn’t forget that.”
Me, I'm just wondering when this pointless exercise in leftier-than-thou will be over so the good people of the Co-Op can go back to back to, as one member told the Times, "just want[ing] really good dried fruit.”
From the WSJ:
After three years of heated debate, the Park Slope Food Coop is at last ready for a vote.
That is, a vote on if, in fact, there should be a vote at all.
Next month, the 15,500-plus member cooperative will decide whether to hold a referendum on what may be the most controversial issue in its nearly 40-year history: a boycott of products made in Israel. [...]
An artist and filmmaker who goes by the name Hima B began the push for the co-op to join the global Israeli boycott movement known as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). She and others in support of BDS believe economic pressure will lead to an end to what they view as an apartheid system against Palestinians.
Lobbying against a referendum is a group that has coined itself "More Hummus Please." To them, the BDS movement is misguided, discriminatory and smacks of anti-Semitism.
"I oppose BDS in general but I particularly oppose it for the food co-op because they are trying to impose a political point of view on an entire population that didn't get together for the sake of supporting political causes, but got together to save on food," said "More Hummus Please" founder Barbara Mazor, a 23-year member of the co-op and Orthodox Jew.
Ms. Mazor thinks even having a referendum on the issue would legitimize a position that itself is discriminatory.
I'm not personally a member of the co-op, so my opinions on the matter will probably hold little sway on the debate. I would posit, however, that an effort that smacks all too closely of Deutsche, kauft nicht beim Juden really has no place in Gotham. It's all very well and good to be critical of the Israeli government's at times deeply misguided and unfair policies towards that country's Arab minority, not to mention the Arab population of the occupied Cisjordanian territories; that's what freedom of speech is all about, which we have here and most places in this world do not.
But if we entertain, for the sake of argument, the idea of the co-op de-shelving Israeli products - presumably including those from Israel proper - consumer speech, which is what purchasing decisions at the end of the day amount to, will be curtailed. If Ms. Mazor wants to buy, say, Sabra hummus (actually made in Queens, but no matter) at the co-op where she invests her time and her dollars, that should be her choice. Equally, Ms. Hima B has the right to choose not to buy Israeli products, if that is what she wishes. Anything else strikes this blogger at least as deeply illiberal.
Illiberality aside, it's certainly not the case that the boycott advocates are themselves unfamiliar with having their choices and actions curtailed. I'm referring specifically to the decision by the New York City Gay and Lesbian Community Center to decline to host a 2011 event for something called, a trifle disingenuously as far as I'm concerned, 'Israeli Apartheid Week'. The Center argued, to simplify somewhat, that this event did not cohere with its stated mission,
"The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center provides a home for the birth, nurture and celebration of our organizations, institutions and culture; cares for our individuals and groups in need; educates the public and our community; and empowers our individuals and groups to achieve their fullest potential."
The event organizers (affiliated with the same "BDS" movement arguing for the Park Slope Israel boycott), needless to say, were none too pleased at what they regarded as an infringement of, wait for it, their freedom of speech.
Precisely what they would very much like to take away from Ms. Mazor and the members of the Park Slope co-op. Funny how that works, isn't it?
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The Billionaire Koch Brothers have been the major funding source for the Teabaggers, for the Republican anti-union efforts in Wisconsin, Ohio, etc. They have been a major opponent of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They have given millions of dollars to right wing politicians. They are, in short, destroying the American Dream in every way they can. They are all about corrupt crony capitalism and are against true democracy. They want tax breaks for Billionaires but cuts to Medicare and Social Security while also gutting unions for working and middle class Americans.
I don't want any penny of my money going to the Billionaire Koch Brothers. So I have been boycotting any and all of their products (mainly Georgia Pacific paper goods, see below).
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