No Soup for You!--Brooklyn Co-op Debates Boycotting Israeli Foods
08/03/2011 - 18:47

The BDS campaign looms large in the press, but in America, it's actually hard to find participants.  Even liberal Jews who are outspoken critics of Israeli policies toward Palestinians--the motive behind the boycotts--insist the BDS movement does more harm then good.  So it's a small wonder why the crunchy liberal munchers of the Park Slope Co-op--many of them Jews--are now debating whether to participate.

According to the New York Observer, the co-op's board recently decided to hold a referendum on whether the Co-op should stop carrying Israeli-produced products: things like persimmons, lychees, and bath salts. One of the problems, though, is that board members aren't sure which products they carry are actually produced in Israel. 

(Sounds to me that, if there's any boycott worth supporting, it's in the name of localism--why the hell is a liberal Brooklyn co-op shipping in stuff from halfway around the globe to begin with?)

But the main compaints come, of course, from many of the co-op's Jewish members.

As one Jewish member, Barbara Mazor, told the Observer, by way of denouncing the boycott idea: “I think they’re latching onto it like slogans. Like true believers, it’s the cool thing to do. You know, ‘I’m a progressive, and it’s a progressive cause,’ so I think that’s how it’s coming through, very thoughtlessly.”

Then there are those like Alan Dershowitz, who is not a member of the co-op, but was reached for comment anyway.  He told the Observer about BDS supporters: "that’s what these people are, they’re bigots. Many of them are anti-Semites. Some of them don’t know they’re anti-Semites. That doesn’t give them a pass.”

He added that he would fight to shut down the co-op if they decided to join the BDS campaign. But when told that that might be difficult because he wasn't a member of the co-op, and only members could dissolve it--so long as they didn't break external laws (boycotts are legal, including the BDS, though not in Israel, where it was criminalized last month)--he said, basically, the hell with it.

“You have to fight fire with fire,” he said. “We will stop at nothing to make them pay an extraordinarily heavy price for their bigotry.”

Stay tuned.  Looks like this one's heating up.

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Gee, Jerrold, ongoing terrorism. At first I thought you were talking about the constant rockets coming out of Gaza. I guess unless you live in southern Israel, that inconvenient fact can just be ignored.

I really, really want to comment on this, but I'll have to get back to it after I deal with the 779 more important items on my list.

If this boycott is adopted, will it be of food produced within Israel or by settlers in the occupied territories? This is the critical issue.

Why don't we extend the boycott of Israeli products to include all the Medical discoveries & electronic implements that have come out of Israel! After all, more people use Israeli inventions than just a few pieces of imported
fruits & vegetables ! Let's go through the patents & copyrights and boycott
everything the Jewish people gave to the world. How about the Torah! Why don't we start with monotheism! And while we are doing that, let's boycott Jews from the list of Nobel Prizes,no matter what subject.
Sorry, I got carried away.

It is such a sad commentary on the inteligence of those that would favor a boycott on products from Israel. Of course if they are just anti-semetic then that is their real reason. To blame it on politics as it pertains to the Palestinians just shows how terribly ignorant they are of the true and unsisputable historical facts. But that is the way the things go when people just follow along and dont think for themselves. Those in favor of a boycott should make sure that absolutely nothing from Israel comes in contact with them. No medicine, technology, or cutting edge life saving inventions.
I for one will buy everything I can from Israel including of course my matza.

Is there anything more sad & pathetic than a bunch of whiny liberal self-hating Jews?

It's boggles the mind - now that we have this truly amazing Land of Israel, people (Jews!) want to do whatever they can to chip away at it and destroy it... Yes, they are out of touch with reality. In my opinion, they want to hurt their fellow Jews. Their decision making in this area is misdirected - and "that's or sure!"


Thank you for that clarification; it is a material one. On the other hand, the issue is still be considered as an agenda item. I would be interested to know if the Coop has ever considered boycotting the products of any other nations, and if so could you provide those other examples? Thanks.


Way to include voices/perspectives from proponents of the boycott. Dershowitz sure can always be relied on for well-argued critiques based on facts and not personal attacks or foregone conclusions.

An important correction must be noted: This article states that "the co-op's board recently decided to hold a referendum..." and this is drastically incorrect. First, the Park Slope Food Coop's monthly General Meetings are where items are discussed and potentially voted on, but in order for an issue to be voted on, it must appear on the agenda as a discussion item first. The agenda is not set by the board, but by a committee of members who meet monthly to place items submitted on the agenda. The item discussed, which was submitted by a group of members, was whether the Coop should vote (in the future) to hold a referendum to support the BDS movement.

The board of the Coop does meet, at the end of the General Meeting each month, in front of the members present at the meeting, and again - they do not set the agenda items, because our nearly 16,000 members own the Coop and have the right and opportunity to participate in decision making.

This is a very important distinction to make.

Thank you,
Charlene Swift