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One of Nation's Oldest, Largest Food Co-Ops Holding Vote on Banning Israeli Products

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"We have to decide what our real intent is.  Is it anti-Israel or is it pro-peace?"

New York's Park Slope Food Co-Op, one of the oldest and biggest of its kind, is holding a vote Tuesday to determine whether it will hold a referendum on boycotting goods from Israel.  The New York Post explains:

Some anti-Israel members want products made in Israel off the trendy Brooklyn food-cooperative’s shelves in protest of that country’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

However, others say the idea stinks of anti-Semitism and goes against the 39-year-old Union Street co-op’s mission statement of commitment to 'diversity and equality.'

[...]

If a majority of members attending shoot the down the referendum proposal, it’s dead and the co-op can continue selling Israel-imported products like the popular-selling Sodastream seltzer maker, bath salts and paprika.

But if there’s enough support, the issue will be decided in the coming months through a mail-ballot referendum distributed to [the] co-op’s 16,000 members.

The attempted boycott is part of an international advocacy effort called the "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement," or "BDS," which is modeled after the international boycott against South African apartheid.

BDS' website elaborates:

For decades, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organisations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.

In view of this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response...a clear majority of Palestinian civil society [has] called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Parliament who supports the BDS movement, said of it: "We believe this campaign is for the sake of both Palestinians and the Israelis, because it would help us liberate ourselves from the last segregation and occupation system in the world. And it would help liberate the Israelis from the last colonial settlement system in modern history."

Reactions at the Park Slope Food Co-Op have been mixed.

Jessica Rosenberg, a member of the co-op, says she supports BDS until Israel "ends the occupation" and provides "right of return" for Palestinians.  Another, Linda Katz, says that she does not support the boycott because it is not the most effective way to peace.

"We have to decide what our real intent is," she continued.  "Is it anti-Israel or is it pro-peace?"

Democracy Now met with members of the Co-Op:

But Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon offers another perspective on the peace process and "right to return." You can watch him explain in one of his whiteboard videos below:

According to the Post, the turnout for the co-op’s monthly meeting is expected to be high. So high, in fact, that it’s been moved from a small neighborhood synagogue (ironically) to the Brooklyn Technical High School, which seats 3,000.

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