Hypocrisy in the anti-Israel movement in Brooklyn
As Michael has written a couple of times, there is a movement (far from new, but getting more attention this year) that is trying to get the Park Slope Food Co-op to boycott all products from Israel. This presumably would include products like those from Meditalia whose main focus is promoting peace, supporting moderates on all sides, and creating markets for Israeli, Palestinian, Turkish and Egyptian goods. These products are available at the Park Slope Food Co-op and would be included in this boycott:
MEDITALIA™ Tapenades and Pestos are produced in Israel through cooperation between Israelis, Arabs and other neighbours. The olives are grown in Palestinian villages, the glass jars are made in Egypt, and the sun-dried tomatoes come from Turkey.
PeaceWorks believes that personal contact between these groups will shatter cultural stereotypes and help people live together peacefully. Five percent of the profits from MEDITALIA™ Pestos and Tapenades go to support the PeaceWorks Foundation to foster peaceful co-existence in the world.
So Meditalia products are worth boycotting, but the many, many items sold at the Co-op from China or Lebanon are okey dokey. That is the message being sent.
My beef with the whole so-called "BDS" movement is that it boils down NOT to a push for human rights but to hatred for Israel. Here I can speak only for how it is being applied at the Park Slope Food Co-op because here ONLY Israel is being targeted. And yet China has a MUCH worse human rights record and I have seen no organized movement to boycott products from China. Turkey, Thailand, and Lebanon are certainly no better than Israel and may well be worse, yet no one talks about their human rights records. All of these nations are represented on the shelves of the Co-op with hardly ANY mention of their human rights records. Yet Israel takes up hours of time at the General Meetings, pages and pages of letters in the Co-op newsletter, and many trees' worth of flyers handed out by the pro- and anti-sides of the debate.
Why? Why ONLY Israel? Is somehow Israel worse than China or Turkey? I think by any objective standard Israel is BETTER than China and perhaps equal to Turkey. Kurds and Armenians may think Turkey should be boycotted rather than Israel.
The Co-op is one of the most diverse communities I have seen in America. Though Park Slope is in many ways the poster child community for white privilege and arrogance, the Co-op draws from all over NYC and beyond. Hassids rub shoulders with blacks and South Asians as well as hippies and yuppies. Food Stamps are accepted regularly. They offer child care. Everyone has to work, no one can buy out of the work requirement. It is about as close as I have seen to an equal while still very multicultural society.
To divide this issue over ONE nation is stupid.
Boycotts are important and I would even be open to a boycott that included Israel if it was unbiased and fair rather than singling out one nation. There really IS a way to do this and the Food Co-op is one place where it could be done right if that is really what people want.
Decide on a set of criteria that would trigger a boycott. Do so without bias towards or against any particular nation or ethnic group. Then apply those criteria to products from all nations. This would mean if the Co-op boycotts Israel for its human rights record, it would also be boycotting China, Lebanon, Turkey, Thailand, etc. There would be no hypocrisy, no apparent anti-Semitism, no bias, merely a consistent policy.
No one advocates this. They only single out Israel and in so doing split an otherwise amazingly diverse community where all members are about as close to equal as I think you can get. Perhaps such a fair and unbiased policy would rule out too many products. In which case the idea of a boycott based on the human rights record of a nation's government has to be either narrowed (in which case I doubt Israel would be included) or abandoned.
Boycotts of individual companies based on company policy seem completely different. But to boycott a company like Meditalia over the policies of Netanyahu makes no sense unless you apply the criteria of the boycott to all nations, not just Israel.
If the BDS movement pushed for a fair, unbiased and consistent boycott, I might agree with them. But they don't. They single out ONE nation and that one not even the one with the worst human rights record and that leads me to wonder why.