Monday, December 26, 2011

And Even More BDS Fails

BDS Global Digest provides ongoing reports of BDS and BDS-related stories in the news. The last few weeks have seen some major BDS fails. For openers, Israel's economy continues to boom. Cornell University and Technion will partner to build an Applied Sciences campus here in New York City on Roosevelt Island. Apple Computers just acquired Anobit, an Israel maker of flash storage technology. Apple is also working on setting up a Research and Development Center in Israel, near the Technion. It will be Apple's first R&D site outside of the U.S. Apple will be joining Google, Microsoft, Intel, Motorola and Yahoo, who all have R&D centers in Israel.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Yet Another BDS Fail

Students at the University of Pennsylvania are holding a nationwide conference on BDS in February.  The University has issued the following statement distancing itself from the conference and reiterating its rejection of BDS (via Stand With Us).


Penn Statement on Planned BDS Conference

A campus student group, Penn BDS, is planning a national conference in February that will encourage boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

This is not an event sponsored by the University.  The event is being sponsored by a registered student group, as is permitted of any student group on campus.

The University of Pennsylvania has clearly stated on numerous occasions that it does not support sanctions or boycotts against Israel.  Indeed, Penn has important and successful scholarly collaborations with Israeli institutions that touch on many areas of our academic enterprise.

Penn has always supported free expression and the free exchange of ideas.  These are essential elements of a great university.  These principles apply to this event, as they would any other student event, whether or not we agree with or condone the message BDS seeks to communicate.

University of Pennsylvania
1 College Hall, Room 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6380
presweb@pobox.upenn.edu

President Amy Gutmann
http://www.upenn.edu/president/meet-president/biography

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Two More BDS Fails

Elder or Ziyon recently cited two very interesting reports.

Apparently goods made in Israel are very popular in Sinai and there is a flourishing smuggling business through the Gaza tunnels.   The "Made in Israel" label is actually a selling point.

Furthermore, in spite of a PA law banning Palestinian Arabs from working in the Jewish communities of the West Bank, 31,000 workers are doing just that.  Another 70,000 have jobs inside Israel's green line. So much for the call from Palestinian Civil Society.

Just sayin'

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Response to RC

I invited BDS supporters to engage in dialogue.  RC was kind enough to post something.  Below is his note and my response. 
Dear Barbara,

You relentlessly attack your political enemies, yet you post videos lauding Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu? You are a shill for the State of Israel. You have never once criticized Israel for anything. Most BDS supporters like myself condemn nationalism and chauvinism of all sorts. Neither Hamas nor Kach! You cannot claim the same objectivity, as you are a liberal in terms of your food choices, but a far-right-winger in your politics.

--RC
Dear RC-
Thank you for taking the time to respond.  I hope you will respond in kind to my comments.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Challenge to Peace Activists and BDS Supporters

I see that I got some attention from the BDS advocates. Our Park Slope Food Coop BDS promoters have finally noticed the difference between a "tenant" and a "tenet.".

So, I invite you guys who think BDS is a good idea for our Coop to engage in a discussion here. I will publish any reasoned statement, as long as it doesn't resort to profanity or name calling. Ok?

I will start with a few questions. At your Images of Palestine event, some of you said BDS will pressure Israel to end the occupation.
  1. When you say "occupation" do you mean the entire former British Mandate or only the territories beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines that were not controlled by Israel? 

  2. Do you believe that Israel has security concerns? If you say no, then please state why not. If you say yes, then please state how BDS addresses those security concerns.
Do I have any fans?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Minister and Me

The Communists in the Former Soviet Union hated religion. But they especially hated Judaism. It was illegal to teach Hebrew and Judaism. It was illegal to publicly practice Judaism. Jews experienced horrible discrimination and oppression.

In the late 1960's, here in the United States and Israel, Jews began to work to improve the condition of Jews in the Soviet Union. We worked to allow them to emigrate to Israel and to end the persecution. In the 1970's and 80's, when I was a teen and in my 20's, I spent many a Sunday at demonstrations and activities on behalf of Soviet Jews. With the support of Senators Henry "Scoop" Jackson and Charles Vanick, we successfully lobbied Congress to link Human Rights with trade with the USSR and other nations with controlled economies.

We were inspired by the young men and women who risked their freedom and livelihood by secretly teaching Hebrew and applying for visas to move to Israel. Many went to prison. One of them was Yuli Edelstein.

Yuli Edelstein was allowed to emigrate to Israel in 1987. He entered public service and today serves in Israel's Cabinet as the Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs. On December 4, 2011, he visited the Park Slope Food Coop as part of the promotion of Buy Israel Week and to offer his support and encouragement to our anti-BDS efforts at the Coop.
This is the Minister and that is me with my back to the camera. I am reciting to him from the prayer for the State of Israel that we say in synagogues on Saturday - "Our Heavenly Father should send his Light and Truth to the leaders, ministers and advisers of Israels."

Just how effective has nearly 3 years of BDS efforts at the Coop been?  Well, if SodaStream sales are any indication, the BDS message is being ignored.   We are currently selling about 12 carbonators a week.  In addition, we are selling over 100 replacement CO2 canisters.  Then there are the extra bottles, caps and syrups.  I conservatively estimate current gross sales of SodaStream products be over $2,600 / week.  The current rate of canisters sales means a reduction of over 350,000 plastic 1 liter soda bottles from entering the waste stream.

What else are Coop members ignoring?  They seem to have mostly ignored the young man wearing the PFLP t-shirt who was giving out flyers for the BDS education event on Sunday.

What Kind of Coop Do We Want To Be?

What kind of Coop do we want to be? Do we want to be a place where people of all different perspectives and outlooks can come together and find common ground in their interest in healthy fresh food and their willingness to be part our collective enterprise? Are we to be a community where we can assume that each person who joins it will act for the good of the community as a whole and will not inflict damage on that community and pain on its members, even for a cause she believes in strongly? Or are we to be a place where anyone can promote any political agenda, and exploit the good name of our Coop?

The members promoting a referendum on joining the BDS movement claim “avoiding discussion on an important issue does not build unity – it builds anxiety and mistrust.” So they have imposed a discussion of the Middle East conflict upon us. They want the Coop to be “welcoming to everyone who would express themselves on this issue.”

But the discussion they offer is not an honest one. This group conducted a program in the Coop on Dec 4. It was attended by about 20 people in addition to the organizers and presenters. I do not doubt the presenters sincerely believe themselves to be advocates of peace. Yet, they appeared singularly unknowledgeable regarding certain facts, and in some case transmitted information that was outright wrong. Not everything expressed at this program was consistent with the true pursuit of peace.

What kind of peace activist wears a t-shirt with the emblem of the terrorist organization responsible for the 1974 murders of 17 Puerto Ricans, 1 Canadian and 9 Israelis at Lod airport? What kind of peace activist suggests that suicide bombings directed against civilians is justified? What kind of peace activist stays silent when someone says that, and will not unequivocally say “murder of civilians is wrong in all cases”? Is this the “expressions on this issue” we want to welcome at the coop? Or does it “build anxiety and mistrust”?

If you are a Coop member, please join me and more than 200 others in telling these “peace activists” to drop their BDS campaign at the Coop. The Coop doesn’t want or need this discussion. Send an email to morehummus@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To Leaflet or Not to Leaflet

For those of you who follow this blog but are not members of the Park Slope Food Coop, I am pleased to report that we are now at 203 supporters.

Recently the pro-BDS group has been handing out flyers in front of the Coop. The flyers advocate holding a referendum on joining the BDS movement. The text is pretty much the same as on this page of the pro-BDS website.

Some in our group have suggested we respond with our own flyers.  Reasons to respond are:
  1. Not everyone reads the Gazette, but everyone coming to the Coop gets a flyer.
  2. If we don't respond, it appears there is no opposition.
  3. Someone might be convinced by the flyer to support the referendum, even if she doesn't support BDS.
Reasons not to responds are:
  1. Giving out flyers annoys people.
  2. Flyers create waste; even in New York City, where paper is recycled.
  3. It is not necessarily a good use of time and money.
I oppose BDS because it is wrong, because it is not a peace movement.  I also oppose the exploitation of the Food Coop for political purposes.  People joined it because it is a food store.  I feel that promoting BDS - or for that matter any cause that does not have a direct impact on the Coop's operation -  is a usurpation of the Coop's prime purpose.  I don't want to increase the pollution of our civic space.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Plain and Simple #4 - "A Welcoming Place"

Here is another gem from our pro-BDS people at the Park Slope Food Coop, as part of their reasons why we should join the boycott.
It [joining the BDS movement] will also make the PSFC a more welcoming place for all people who want justice realized in Palestine.

Setting aside what "justice in Palestine" might mean - that will have to be a separate post - I assume they are talking about themselves. Are they saying they don't feel welcome? So let's see:

  1. They have had over two and half years of letters printed in the Linewaiters' Gazette.
  2. They have had an entire General Meeting devoted to their topic.
  3. They have had hosted several education events in the Coop.
  4. They give out flyers in front of the Coop.
  5. They have 2 items sitting on the Agenda Committee list.

Just how much more welcome do they need to feel?

And since when is holding a political position akin to race or ethnicity or religion or sex or orientation? Since when are holders of a political positions a protected group? By definition, holding a position means excluding those who hold the opposite position. So, we have to be more welcoming to one group by endorsing a position that will make the people who disagree with them feel less welcome.

These are peace activists? This is the meaning of co-existence?

If your head hasn't exploded yet, can someone please explain to me the logic of "If you won't take a position on an issue, then your inaction means you support the people I disagree with."?

Once again, plain and simple, they don't know what they are talking about.

Israel and the U.S. - more

In my previous post I wrote about Israel's strategic value to the United States, as discussed by Robert D. Blackwill and Walter B. Slocombe. Their detailed report, “Israel: A Strategic Asset for the United States,” was just published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The report can be downloaded for free, or you can view a video of the authors' presentation.

Tablet Magazine
has an article by Lee Smith about the the report. Smith writes:
The paper offers chapter and verse on Israeli contributions to the U.S. national interest. They include: Israeli counter-proliferation efforts, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility and the 2007 attack on Syria’s secret nuclear facility at al-Kibar; joint military training exercises, as well as exchanges on military doctrine; Israeli technology, like unmanned aerial systems, armored vehicle protection, defense against short-range rocket threats, and robotics; missile defense cooperation; counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation; and cyber defense. Blackwill and Slocombe conclude that the alliance is in fact so central to U.S. national interests that U.S. policymakers should find ways to further enhance cooperation with Jerusalem.

...If the alliance with Israel really is a liability to U.S. national interests, there should be concrete evidence to back it up. “We tried to identify episodes when you could plausibly argue that Arab governments exacted a price from the U.S. for its alliance with Israel.” Blackwill said. He and Slocombe found only one example: the Arab oil embargo after the 1973 war.

“Without doubt that embargo was related to the U.S. re-supply during the ’73 Arab-Israeli war,” Blackwill said. “We thought, ‘Well, there have to be other examples. We’re just not looking hard enough.’ But to our surprise, we couldn’t find another example from that instance to today.”

Lee Smith is the author a fascinating book about the Arab world, The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations. Smith spent time living in Eqypt studying Arabic and the Koran. He gives a very different perspective than most journalists.

(h/t Silke)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Israel and the U.S.

One of the often repeated claims of the anti-Israel camp - and our Park Slope pro-BDSers are no exception - is that American aid to Israel is: 1) used to oppress Palestinians, 2) counter to American interests, and 3) money better spent here at home. I responded here.

The Los Angeles Times has an op-ed piece, Israel: A true ally in the Middle East, detailing the many ways in which Israel advances U.S. national interests. The authors are Robert D. Blackwill, deputy national security advisor for strategic planning in the George W. Bush administration, and Walter B. Slocombe, undersecretary of defense for policy in the Clinton administration.  Guys who know what they are talking about.
Today, Israeli contributions to U.S. national interests cover a broad spectrum. Through joint training, exercises and exchanges on military doctrine, the United States has benefited in the areas of counter-terrorism, intelligence and experience in urban warfare. Increasingly, U.S. homeland security and military agencies are turning to Israeli technology to solve some of their most vexing technical and strategic problems.
Go read the whole thing for the specifics.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Plain and Simple # 3 - Judaism

Judging from the letters in the Linewaiters Gazette, identifying BDS as anti-Semitic really upsets the Food Coop's BDS supporters.   They want to deny the charge, but they are unable to show that BDS is not anti-Jewish.  Instead, they redefine anti-Jewish to fit their position.

From the Coop's pro-BDS group's website:
Is BDS anti-Semitic?

BDS is not anti-Semitic. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – the Jewish religion, like this movement, supports social justice and rejects oppression. Unfortunately, many of the Israeli government’s actions violate basic tenants (sic) of Judaism (3).

Equating Judaism with the state of Israel is inaccurate and unfair. Many Jews involved in the BDS movement feel that it’s anti-Semitic to assume that, because of their religion, they must support a national project that violates their values.
Let's translate and analyze one line at a time.

"Is BDS anti-Semitic?" - Is BDS antagonistic to Jews and/or the Jewish religion?

"BDS is not anti-Semitic." - BDS's goal is the dismantling of Israel as a Jewish State. To claim BDS is not anti-Semitic, our BDS supporters would have to show that either this is not their goal or that this goal is not antagonistic to Jews.  Their proof:

"In fact, it’s quite the opposite – the Jewish religion, like this movement, supports social justice and rejects oppression." According to them, BDS and the Jewish religion support the same thing, namely "social justice", and reject the same thing, namely "oppression." Therefore, BDS isn't antagonistic towards Jews or Judaism. This is not a logical argument; two groups sharing a value does not imply a lack of antagonism. Not only have they not established that BDS "supports social justice and rejects oppression," but they do not demonstrate that BDS and Judaism share the same definitions of "social justice" and "oppression."   Yet, what follows is even more remarkable.

"Unfortunately, many of the Israeli government’s actions violate basic tenants (sic) of Judaism (3)." - I think they meant to write "tenets," not "tenants," but never mind.   I assume here they are identifying  "supporting social justice and rejecting oppression." as a basic tenet of Judaism.  By accusing Israel of violating their definition of Judaism,  they can conclude:  "Equating Judaism with the state of Israel is inaccurate and unfair." Once they have identified Israel as un-Jewish, opposing it is not anti-Semitic. In a final twist of logic, supporting Israel becomes anti-Semitic! "Many Jews involved in the BDS movement feel that it’s anti-Semitic to assume that, because of their religion, they must support a national project that violates their values."

They betray their ignorance of both history and Judaism.

Judaism, like all religions, mediates a relationship between the individual and the Divine. In Judaism, a covenant, the Torah, demands of Jews to worship God through particular rituals and to behave towards  others in a particular manner. In return, God will protect and establish the Jews as a nation in their own land, Israel. Some commandments - such as providing for the poor and establishing courts - correspond with our notions of social justice. Other commandments - such as living in the Land of Israel, building a nation, and protecting other Jews - illustrate Judaism's less universal aspects.  There is no commandment to capitulate to those seeking the destruction of the Jews.

Of course, each individual is free to choose what to believe.  However, characterizing any religion as supporting a particular view or opposing a particular view requires a familiarity with the scope of that religion's practices, history and theology.  Any claim regarding a religion's substance must be supported by actual references. Our pro-BDS members don't do that.  Plain and simple, they don't know what they are talking about.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Plain and Simple #2 - Is BDS anti-Semitic?

In August, I published a piece in the Linewaiters' Gazette showing that the goals of the Global BDS Movement are to eliminate Israel as a Jewish State.  I published a slightly longer version of the article on this blog, in two parts. I also pointed out that the statements of the BDS leadership fulfilled a globally accepted definition of anti-Semitism.

I further wrote that presenting a proposal to hold a referendum on joining BDS to the General Meeting provides legitimacy to a movement shown to be anti-Semitic. I said such an action is unacceptable for the Park Slope Food Coop, as we are committed to diversity.

Now, our members who want to hold the referendum have posted on their website page titled "About BDS," the exact BDS platform. Further down the page they ask, "Is BDS anti-Semitic?" In order to answer that question with a "No," they would have to show:
  1. Either BDS does not oppose the existence of Israel as  a Jewish State or that opposing the right of self-determination for Jews is not anti-Semitic.
  2. BDS does not deny the unique historic connection between Jews and the Land of Israel.
  3. That the conditions demanded by BDS do not endanger the physical safety of Jews.
  4. That there is a true commitment among the Palestinian leadership to live in peace with Jews, with full recognition of their rights.
  5. That BDS demands of the Arabs an end to the conflict.
Of course, they don't do any of that. Nor do they address any of the other issues I raised in my essays. Is it because they haven't read the essays? Or is it because they don't know how to answer? Or is it because they don't know how to think about these issues because they truly don't know enough about it?

Instead, they provide a totally illogical, self-contradicting answer that reveals their ignorance. I will deconstruct their statement in the next post.

Once again, we see that plain and simple, they don't know what they are talking about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Plain and Simple #1 - The "Israel Lobby"

This stunning statement appears on the website the Coop members who are promoting BDS: 
The “Israel Lobby” has the power to punish any U.S. politician who gives less than full-throated support to Israeli policy.
It is on a  page titled “Why Israel?”  The reference is to an article “The Israel Lobby,” by Professors John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt published 5 years ago in the London Review of Books. Never mind that the authors’ subsequent book of the same title was criticized by numerous reviewers for sloppy scholarship, faulty logic and omission of important context and information. Walter Russel Mead wrote the book will give “aid and comfort to anti-Semites wherever they are found.” And never mind that Mearsheimer recently provided a book jacket blurb and endorsement for a vicious, anti-Semitic book. Never mind all that.

Their website reasons that Israel is worthy of being singled out for boycott because it receives aid from the United States.  This aid is provided because "the Israel Lobby" has a "stranglehold" of  on our politicians.  In other words, in their advocacy for the Coop to join BDS, our fellow Park Slope Food Coop members, are suggesting that a Jewish cabal an "Israel Lobby" controls the United States Government. (Does this sound a little like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?)

It is true that American aid to Israel is generous.  It is also true that the United States has historically provided aid to countries or people who were at risk or victims of military aggression.  Interventions have included Somalia, Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, and most recently, Libya.   Israel is at continuous risk from the neighboring countries, although you would never know it by reading a BDS website.  In Lebanon, to Israel's north,  Hizballah has over 40,000 rockets pointed at Israel.  Syria is still in a state of war with Israel, as is Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  To the west, Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is committed to the destruction of Israel.  Terrorist organizations still operate within the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.  Iran is developing nuclear weapons and constantly boasts an intention to destroy Israel.

Furthermore, the United States reaps many, many benefits from Israel.  The US Sixth Fleet is serviced there. Israel hosts a US radar station and provides storage for US weapons.  Israel provides our country with intelligence, shared weapons development and tactical training.  World civilization has benefited from Israel in technology, medicine, science and the arts.  Israel provides rescue and humanitarian relief around the world, notably the rapid deployment of a field hospital in Haiti following the earthquake.

Polls consistently show that Americans support Israel.  In a May CNN poll, 67% responded their sympathies are more with Israel than with the Palestinians.  In an April Pew Center poll, 76% considered it important for the US to help protect Israel.  US Aid to Israel appears to be consistent with public opinion.

Pro-Israel groups have been very effective in presenting Israel's cause to the American public and to Congress. Special interests groups of all natures are part of the American political landscape. Compared to the insurance industry, pharmaceuticals, banks and lawyers, the so-called "Israel Lobby" is not nearly as well funded nor effective. If it were as powerful as our BDS friends would have us believe then all of the following would be true:
  • Jerusalem would be recognized as Israel's capital.
  • There would be no arms sales to Arab countries.
  • Congressmen who vote against Israel would not be re-elected.
  • There would never be any question of loan guarantees.
None of this is of any interest to the folks who want the Coop to join BDS.  They only know what they hear from their sources.  Plain and simple, they don't know what they are talking about.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Plain and Simple - Introduction

    The Park Slope Food Coop members who want us to hold a referendum on joining the BDS movement have recently updated their website. (No, I am not linking. You can find it on you own.) The content is filled with internal contradictions, historical distortions and easily refuted accusations. There is so much material it is hard to choose where to start. Plain and simple, the Coop’s BDS supporters don’t know what they are talking about.

    As I previously wrote, context is important. They ignore the history of continuous Arab racism, terrorism, rejectionism. You will not find a word admitting any Arab culpability or wrong-doing on their website. All their sources agree with their narrow perspective. I don’t believe they could substantiate the claims they make. Can they show what the factual basis of each claim? Can they anticipate counter-claims or alternative explanations and demonstrate why they’re not acceptable? Could they say what sort of facts, were they to exist, would disprove their claims? Could they show that the non-existence of such facts bolster their positions?

    Probably not. But I can disprove them, and I will. Because I have an army of minds out there who have been doing it for 100 years to turn to. And I have the facts.

    So, I am writing a series of posts, entitled “Plain and Simple,” refuting the claims of their website. Of course, it's going to take a little time. They have a lot of material. I invite any you to help in this project. And I invite the pro-BDS Coop members to respond and ask questions.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Untitled

    Imagine this horrific story.

    A man is asleep in his bed with his wife. A band of masked, armed intruders break into his home. They kill members of his household staff and burst into his bedroom. In front of his terrified wife, they shoot him. They steal his electronic equipment and make their getaway.

    What do you think about this grisly crime? Do you feel sympathy for the victim? Are you angry at the perpetrators of the murder?

    I just described the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs. Now how do you feel about the intruders and the victim?

    I wrote this not to comment on the death of Bin Laden*. Rather, I wanted to show how the context of a story matters. By leaving out some crucial pieces of information, I have manipulated you into feeling sympathy for Bin Laden.

    If you listen to any pro-BDS speakers or read any pro-BDS materials you will never find any admission of the Arab violence against Jews, Arab agression, Arab terrorism, Arab rejectionism. All you will hear or read is victimhood. You have to wonder why. That is a discussion for another day.


    * For the record on Bin Laden: Bin Laden had to be killed, for both strategic and symbolic reasons. The United States carried out this mission in a way that minimized injury to his family members who were in the compound with him. The US got all of our guys home safe, and we should all be grateful for that. The US violated Pakistan's sovereignty to carry out the mission and killed a man. Decision taken in an armed conflict have a complex moral calculus.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    My Sodastream

    On Thursday we bought a SodaStream machine at the Park Slope Food Coop. I am very pleased with it. It is easy to use, it looks nice and the soda is actually fizzy.

    We had a Sypholux soda maker in the past, but I never liked it. In addition to having a name that sounds like a disease, it was heavy, hard to dry between uses, and it didn't make good soda.

    I was skeptical about the Sodastream, but I decided to try it anyway. I am glad I did. It will pay for itself in less than 1 year. I won't have to carry home seltzer bottles anymore.

    It is ironic. If it hadn't been targeted for boycott, I would never have known that this machine existed or was even sold at the coop. Sodastream is produced by an Israeli company. In the Food Coop it is found on the top shelf above the bottled juices, opposite the bulk items. I never look up there.

    There were 3 Sodastream units on the shelf when I started my work slot this morning. When I left the store, 2 had already been purchased. It makes a great gift. Oh yeah, and when I googled SodaStream, I found out the stock is performing really well.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    The Two Faces of Hate

    The following is a guest post from one of the More Hummus, Please members.

    The Two Faces of Hate
    R. Parsons, 9/11/2011


    When it comes to phobic behavior toward Israel there are basically two distinct forms of the malady; rabid, bald-faced anti-Semitism and the more polite and less honest “come, let us reason together” approach. Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas characterize the former. The International Solidarity and BDS Movements typify the latter. But hostility toward Israel was already active, even before it's founding

    One individual, who stands out for presetting the region for war against the new Israel, was Haj Amin al-Husseini, a pan-Arabist quoted as saying, “kill all Jews wherever you find them.” From 1921 to 1948, al-Husseini was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Before, during, and after this time he violently opposed a national home for the Jewish people and fomented large vitriolic anti-Jewish riots in 1929 and 1936.

    Bridging the time between the First and Second World Wars and to a lesser extent the period after the rebirth of Israel, he opposed every attempt at making a reasonable accommodation to the new Jewish state. In fact, he was the kind of guy Hitler appreciated - literally and vice-versa.

    During the Second World War he recruited 20,000 Muslims for the Waffen SS, who participated in the murder of Jews in Bosnia and Croatia. He met with both Hitler and Mussolini, expressing his solidarity with fascism and his vehement opposition to Jews immigrating to Israel. He set up organizations for the young men based on the Hitler Youth and shared the Nazi obsession with genocide. He made Arabic broadcasts to the Middle East, promoting the Nazi program. Active, entrenched, and violently anti-Semitic atmosphere that permeated the region just before Israel was founded during the British Mandate period can be largely credited to his influence.

    Since that time Israel has had to deal with the al-Husseini mentality. Whether it comes in the form of clearly hateful or seemingly reasoned opposition to Israel, the disease is the same. The fact that the BDS movement insists on calling Israel apartheid, a priori, when it is anything but, is the best litmus of the al-Husseini connection. The three conditions of BDS - boycott, divestment and sanction - are quite simply a formula for the destruction of Israel.

    BDS is not a movement for peace and justice. It is a tool of those driving the same kind of hate as the murderers who blow up busses and launch missiles from Gaza or Lebanon in a seemingly more acceptable, less violent, form. However it presents, it is a toxic stew that serves only those with bad intentions toward Israel and a fundamental dishonesty about the peace process.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Specatacular BDS Fail in Sacramento

    BDS was a big loser in Sacramento over the weekend.

    Divest This! has all the details.

    It is enough to say that in balloting last week at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, two pro-BDS candidates for the Board of Directors were defeated AND a vote to join BDS was defeated 83% to 17%. Booya!

    I am trying to find out why they held the vote, when originally the Policy Committee turned it down. I know the pro-BDS group had started a legal action against the co-op. Maybe they just wanted to get it all behind them.

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Why Am I a Member of the Food Coop?

    It's simple.  My coop membership is worth a few thousand dollars a year in savings.  If I weren't saving money, I wouldn't be a member.  And I find Working there the required 33 hours a year is pleasant for me.  If it became unpleasant, I would stop being a member.

    In the September 8, 2011, Linewaiters' Gazette there is a letter from a member who complains(!) the management staff is doing "everything in their power to maintain their Co-Op as a food store and not as a social experiment or an activist force."

    Well, it happens to be my Coop, too. And the management is doing exactly what it is supposed to do: keep the store well-running, so people can save money. Because I guarantee, when people stop saving money, they will stop being members.

    We have lots of choices for places to buy groceries.  We choose which store based on our own cost/benefits analysis. The Park Slope Food Coop is a grocery store with an unusual, perhaps unique, business model, but it is still a grocery store first.

    We have many choices for engaging in "social experiments" or being "an activist force." Don't coopt the Coop.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Candid Camera

    How do Israelis treat Arabs?  What happens when an Arab woman tries to buy coffee and the counterman refuses to sell to her?  The hidden camera tells all.


    (h/t Victor Shikhman)

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Feel Good Story of the Day

    JTA has an article about a team of 24 Israelis and Palestinians competing in an international competition of Australian-rules football.
    Team member Sulaiman Khatib, was just 14 when he and a friend stabbed some Israeli soldiers. Khatib was arrested and sent to prison for 10 years. He spent most of his time behind bars learning Hebrew and English, reading about Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and studying the histories of other conflicts, leading him to conclude:

    “I believe there is no military solution to the conflict. I believe nonviolence is the best way for our struggle, for our freedom and for peace on both sides.”

    He is the co-founder and director of the Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue.
    I mention this because this is the exactly the type of peacebuilding activities that will lead to both sides coming to a just and fair solution that will respect the aspirations of both peoples. It is the type of activity that is rejected by the BDS leadership, as I wrote about here.

    In addition, I mention it because our food coop brings together people from all backgrounds. The food coop, too, is a peacebuilder. This function is exactly what folks trying to bring the BDS referendum to the coop threaten to disrupt.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    I Will Be on the Radio

    Tonight, Tuesday, August 30, 2011, I will be on the radio with Rabbi Yaakov Spivak at 7PM EDT (GMT-4:00).  I will be talking about our anti-BDS efforts at the Park Slope Food Coop.

    In the NYC metropolitan area you can listen on 620AM WSNR and on the internet at jewishradionetwork.net.

    And Now For Something Completely Different....

    From the fine folks at HonestReporting.com.


    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Who Is BDS and What Is its Goal? Part I

    I have a submission in Aug. 25 Linewaiters' Gazette describing the BDS Movement and showing that it is not pro-peace and its goal is the elimination of the world's only Jewish State.  I also pointed out that the BDS position and rhetoric qualifies as anti-Semitic according to the definition used by the US State Department.  Gazette member submission's are limited to 750 words.  I promised to write a more complete and annotated article to be posted here.

    I have broken the article into 2 parts, because of its length.  Part II is here.


    Who is the BDS Movement and what is its goal?  We need to know if we in the coop are to vote on holding a referendum to join BDS.

    BDS stands for Boycott, Divest, Sanction.  The target is Israel.  BDS equates Israel with the former apartheid regime of South Africa."  It claims Israel is obligated under international law to 1) End the occupation of Arab lands 2) Provide equal rights for Arab Citizens of Israel 3) Allow the return of Arabs who left Palestine during the 1948 war, and their descendants to settle in Israel.1.  The goal, according to BDS leader Omar Barghouti, is "a more just, moral and therefore enduring alternative for peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Mandate Palestine: the one-state solution."

    The BDS claims seem reasonable, only if you know nothing about the Middle East or World History.

    If Barghouti were a true advocate of a "peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs," he would encourage peacebuilding activities and dialogues intended to normalize relationships between Arabs and Jews.
    In peacebuilding, efforts are made to open channels of communication, get people involved in joint projects, work with the media and the educational system to try to break down stereotypes, and reduce prejudice and discrimination. The goal of all of these efforts is reconciliation – getting the people to accept each other as part of their own group or be reconciled to mutual co-existence and tolerance.3.

    But Barghouti's organization, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) opposes these activities.   It published a pamphlet to discourage Palestinian youth from participating in peacebuilding efforts, "Why Must We Must Boycott Peacemakers?".4.  The pamphlet brands as "traitors" anyone who participates in these activities.

    Barghouti ignores a century of Arab instigated anti-Jewish violence. He ignores the 2nd class status of Jews as dhimmi under the Ottomans, and the periodic outbreaks of violence against them that pre-date the Eretz Yisrael Movements. He ignores the incitement of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, from 1923 and onwards. Barghouti sees no fault on the part of the Arabs; they are only the victims of Zionist agression, and he accuses the Jews of the most heinous crimes.

    One has to wonder, given the hatred for Jews that Barghouti constantly foments, how does he expect that Jews and Arabs could live together peacefully.

    Incidentally, Omar Barghouti does not believe the academic boycott applies to himself personally.  Barghouti is Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University.

    *****************

    1. Paraphrased from Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
    2. Omar Barghouti, http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/12/12/relative-humanity-the-essential-obstacle-to-a-just-peace-in-palestine/
    3. Conflict Research Consortium, http://www.crinfo.org/CK_Essays/ck_peacebuilding.jsp
    4. MidEastWeb for Coexistence, http://www.mideastweb.org/PACBI_youth_boycott_Arabic.htm

    Who Is BDS and What Is its Goal? Part II

    "BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state," 5. so says BDS supporter Ahmed Moor.   This is a continuation of the Arab rejection of Jewish equality and Jewish self-determination. 

    The world is filled with ethnic nation-states.   There are states for Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croatians, Lithuanians, Armenian, Greeks, etc.   In each of those states, a particular national group is the majority.  The group's culture forms the essence of the states identity and enjoys a privileged status.  At the same time, the state is obliged to protect the human and civil rights of all its citizens, including the minorities.  For the most part, natioin-states have had positive influences upon humanity.  The world acknowledges the right of peoples to preserve and develop their unique cultures.

    Jews share a unique history, culture, language and religion.   They have a history of sovereignty in a particular land, Israel.  Jews have maintained a continuous attachment and presence in the Land of Israel, even under the most difficult circumstances.  By every definition they are a nation, and historically have been treated that way.  If there is a right of all peoples to self-determination, then Jews, too, are entitled to that right.

    The Arabs have 21 states for developing a unique and vibrant cultural life.  Islam enjoys an official state status in 17 of those Arab states, where  Muslims enjoy exclusive access to state jobs, state subsidies and state support.  BDS applies a different standard to Israel; only Jews are denied the right of self-determination.

    Jews acquired land though purchases from Arab landowners at inflated prices up until the 1948 War.  In 1947, in an attempt to end the ethnic violence in Mandatory Palestine, the UN General Assembly recommended partition of the land into 2 states - one for Jews, one for Arabs.  The Jews accepted the plan.  The Arabs rejected the plan because it included recognition of a Jewish State.  5 Arab League nations declared war on Israel, vowing to exterminate the Jews.  Their combined intention was expressed publicly by Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."

    War is a terrible thing.  About 25 million German, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and others were uprooted in the aftermath of World War II.  Some 2 million Jewish survivors in Europe had nowhere to go home.  The Partition of India caused the displacement of 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Around 700,000 Arabs fled to the neighboring invading Arab countries, during the 1948 War.   Subsequently, at least 700,000 Jews were forced out of Arab countries, the majority finding refuge in the newborn Jewish State.

    In this context, the Palestinian exodus, while tragic, is not extraordinary.  Yet, while all other refugees were absorbed by their host countries, only the Arab Palestinians remained stateless.  Their Arab host countries refused to absorb them and grant them the full rights of citizenship.  There is no movement demanding the right of return for anyone displaced during this period in history but the Palestinians.  
    Ahmed Moor writes, "The right of return [BDS's third demand] is an inviolable and sacrosanct principle which necessarily spells out the end of the Jewish state."6.

    Following Israel's War of Independence, around 160,000 Arabs remained inside the 1949 Armistice Lines. They and their descendants have full citizenship and full civil rights in Israel.  Arabs in Israel vote, attend university, work in all professions, serve in the Parliament, and serve as judges.  To compare their situation to "apartheid" is a bald-faced lie and disrespectful to those who truly suffered in South Africa.  It is an attempt to demonize Israel.

    Since 1967, the Arabs have rejected numerous offers by Israel to end the occupation – the result of a defensive war - in return for an end to the conflict and coexistence with a secure Jewish state.  Again, Moor:  "Ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish state itself."7.

    BDS seeks to depict the Israel as uniquely evil.  It ignores Arab incitement and violence.  It is BDS's position that Israel has no right to exist.

    When does criticism of Israel cross the line and become anti-Semitism?  According to the Hannah Rosenthal of the US State Department: "when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized.  These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism."8.   BDS does all three.

    Entertaining any connection to BDS means treating it as having a legitimate side of a public debate, an unacceptable position  for the Park Slope Food Coop.

    Part I is here.

    ***********************


    5. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/bds-is-a-long-term-project-with-radically-transformative-potential.html
    6. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/what-does-it-take-to-get-liberal-zionists-on-board-with-bds-and-is-it-worth-it.html
    7. Ahmed Moor, http://mondoweiss.net/2010/04/bds-is-a-long-term-project-with-radically-transformative-potential.html
    8. Hannah Rosenthal, "Resurgent Anti-Semitism: Global Perspectives"; http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/rm/2011/160032.htm



    Monday, August 22, 2011

    So Much Misinformation

    A Park Slope blogger wrote a post about the Coop and BDS, this past May, just when we were starting out.  There was one comment that I always wanted to answer.  Here is a guy, who writes like he thinks he knows what he is talking about, but is wrong on every single point.

    Why is there so much misinformaton?
    As for Israel, regardless of their role as our strongest ally in the middle east, the country does not belong there. 
    What are his reasons?
    1. What other religion has a country created for it? How would the world react if we carved out a new country for all Muslims or all Christians, etc)
    Actually, the "world" reacts just fine.  The Partition of India created Muslim Pakistan.  Lebanon was carved out of the Ottoman Empire to create a Christian enclave, not to mention all the other Arab countries created that are officially Islamic.  Recently Roman Catholic East Timor declared independence from Muslim Indonesia.  South Sudan became independent from Sudan.

    It is not religion, but ethnicity, that is the basis for the creation of nation-states.   Jews are a people.  The world acknowledges the right of peoples to protect and develop their unique cultures.  So there are states for Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croatians, Lithuanians, Armenian, Greeks, etc.  And a state for Jews.

    We are fine with ethnic nation states.  What we don't like are states that abuse the human and civil rights of their citizens.

    2. It was created out of guilt over the Holocaust. (please do not misunderstand my point. i am not agreeing with, justifying or diminishing the Holocaust in ANY WAY. simple stating a fact. the country was carved out by the allies as a safe haven for Jews after the war.)
    Actually,  Jews settled in the Land of Israel over 3000 years ago, and established a sovereign nation there.  The nation was defeated by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago.  The area was subsequently ruled as a province of numerous foreign empires.

    Jews have lived in the Land of Israel continuously, their population and condition dependent upon the tolerance of the local ruler.  By the second half of the 19th Century, conditions allowed for an increase in Jewish immigration into the Land of Israel.  (The total population estimate at the time was 300,000)

    International support for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people began long before World War II.  In July 1922, the League of Nations granted Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine/The Land of Israel to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in the land of Israel.

    In 1947, the UN General Assembly recommended partition into 2 states - 1 Jewish and 1 Arab - as a means of stopping the violence of Arabs against Jews.   By the time of partition, Israel already was a functioning country with a language, culture, agriculture, universities, newspapers and military forces which proved capable of defending against the invading armies of several Arab nations. 
    3. When it was carved out, it was created without a single thought to the ethnic groups of people ALREADY LIVING IN THE AREA. I almost always tend to side with Israel against the Palestinians in modern arguments but in this point they are correct. The creation of Israel is a kin to the American government creating states by carving up already existing Native American borders.
    Actually, there was quite a lot of thought.  The UN General Assembly partition ceded areas with majority Jewish population for the Jewish State.  There was one exception.  100,000 Jews lived in and around Jerusalem.  They were a majority of the population in Jerusalem and they were 1/6 of the Jewish population of Mandatory Palestine.  This area was designated to be an international zone.  However, the UN and the British provided no protection nor security for this area. 

    4. I often hear the argument, "There is no such country as Palestine." Well there was no such country as Israel until we all agreed there would be. Seems to me what is good for one is good for another.
    You hear there is no such nation as Palestine.  The Palestinian Arabs are ethnically the same as the Arabs of Syria and Jordan.  Although they have a unique recent history, it is a result of politics, not as a result of an organic cultural development.  They have suffered far more abuse at the hands of their Arab "champions" than as a result of the creation of the State of Israel.







    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Self-deleting Jews

    A very nice article about us appeared today in Tablet Magazine.

    The article focused on coop members who also happen to be Orthodox Jews.  When I spoke to the reporter I emphasized that More Hummus, Please is a broad-based group of all types of Jews and non-Jews. We are simply a fair-minded group of coop members.

    The article sparked an interesting collection of comments.   My favorite is from Neal Ross Attinson, who calls his very clever blog "The Metaphorager". He writes:

    Self-Deleting” Jews, not “self-hating Jews.”

    I really love this neologism. First is the rhyme with "self-defeating." Then there is the idea of deletion. Deletion from the community. Deletion from history. It is sad.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Management is With Us

    In today's New York Post, Rich Calder gives us the skinny on the BDS effort at the Park Slope Food Coop.  So here is something new, in print:
    But even the notion of a referendum drew ire.

    Ann Herpel, a general coordinator at the co-op, told The Post that she and the management team opposes the boycott plan and hopes it never reaches a referendum.

    "We feel [a boycott] would be divisive," she said. "We want to be good stewards and make all people feel welcome."
    If that weren't enough, I told the New York Observer, "they [the pro-BDS group] don’t seem to have a terribly sophisticated understanding of the situation."  Mr. Calder's report seems to confirm my evaluation:

    The Post contacted the leaders of the anti-Israel co-op members for comment but only got questions, not answers.

    A person identified as "Hima" said in an e-mail that before commenting, the group wants to know the reporter’s story "angle" and sought copies of his recent published articles "to give us a sense of" writing style.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    "You Don't Know What Apartheid Is"

    Sometimes, in the course of politics, we lose site of the real people who have suffered, whose lives have been irrevocably affected by violence.  Whether it is South Africans, Israelis or Palestinians, their experiences should never be exaggerated, exploited nor trivialized.  It is this type of dehumanization that stands in the way of creating the contacts between people that can bring about true peace.

    At the New York Observer article  about the BDS initiative at the Park Slope Food Coop, the first comment is from one of the pro-BDS organizers at the Coop.  He uses the word "apartheid" four times in his response.  This prompted a reply from a Black South African, identifying himself as Baruti, "you don't know what Apartheid is."  I have written previously about the fallacy of the apartheid analogy, here, here and here.  But everything I have written pales compared to Baruti's words.

    I am ashamed to admit at first I took delight in Baruti's strong rebuke.  I realized I was being insensitive to his suffering.  It is precisely these testimonies that give us perspective.

    Mr. Baruti, I wish for you joy and success that will outweigh your tribulations one thousand fold, that you should go from strength to strength.  Thank you for speaking out.

    With deep respect for Baruti, and to honor the memory of his fallen friends, I reprint his response in its entirety.
    I'm from South Africa.  An African South African, not a colonialist.  (Americans just call me black.)  I experienced Apartheid.  Separateness.  It was ugly.  Many of my friends died.

    I've been to Israel.  The West Bank.  Gaza.  Inside of Israel.  Lived there for a year touring for a book I want to write.

    Mr. Mazza, you don't know what Apartheid is.  For all of Israel's faults, you dishonor yourself and my fallen mates by using the word.  The UN does not use the phrase "Israeli Apartheid" and you repeating it over and over again does not give it authority.  There is really no comparison between Israel and South Africa.    We appreciate your help over there in the US for "saving" us back in the eighties, but we here in S.A. did the dirty work.  We suffered.  We went to jail.  We died.  You stayed safe, signed a few pieces of paper, spoke at a meeting or two maybe.  You follow the same route for your work on human rights in the Middle East.

    Tutu is beloved here, but he is not our polestar.  He is as political as anyone and we all know it.  SA is still quite corrupt and dangerous and he is beholden to make statements reflecting those interests.  Sadly,
    because atrocities were committed by both sides in our war for freedom, corruption and crime are what we have reaped, and freedom is still very hard to find today in SA.   You are, I'm sorry to say, very uninformed about what causes you take up.

    Show him some love and click the "like" button on his comment.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Civic Society

    Our fellow coop members promoting BDS tell us not fear conflict and division in the coop.  Divest This!, who has been following BDS 3 years, points out

    the vehicle through which BDS tries to operate is civic society. Why go through such trouble to get this school or that church to sign onto the boycott or divestment program, if not to try to speak in the name of every member of that organization? For only by making such claims can BDS campaigners give the impression that their desire to see Israel punished through economic sanction comes from a large and respected institution (rather than a small, unrepresentative minority).

    The “By-Any-Means-Necessary” tactics used to recruit these organizations into the BDS fold demonstrates how little interest boycotters have in these civic institutions, beyond their usefulness.

    Take the seemingly trivial example of food co-ops, many of which operate under relatively loose rules and by-laws. To most of us, such loose governance makes sense in the context of a community of trust (the definition of a civic institution). For in such a trust community, it is assumed that individuals will take the needs of the larger organization and its members into account before acting (and thus air-tight rules and regulations are not required for normal, ongoing activity). But for BDSers, such loose rules do not represent the trusting nature of our civic life, but rather weaknesses to exploit for their own narrow ends.

    But at the end of the day, this civic life is what holds our society together, providing endless building blocks which add onto each other one food co-op, one 4H club, one small church, one tiny town, one school, one city, one institution at a time. And when you tear at the fabric that holds such institutions together in order to achieve your own selfish ends, the damage caused has repercussions
    The emphasis is mine.  Our BDS group admits this is divisive, yet they pursue it.  The Park Slope Food Coop needs to protect itself.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Report from the "Discussion" at the General Meeting

    For this to make any sense at all, I first have to describe how the Park Slope Food Coop is governed.  The Coop's monthly General Meeting (GM) has been the decision-making body of the Coop since the Coop began in 1973.  When the Coop was incorporated in 1977, it became legally required to have a Board of Directors. However, the Board's role doesn't overshadow or replace the member initiative, discussion and decision-making that is the purpose of the GM.

    Decisions are made at the monthly GM.  All members may attend and vote.  Any member can submit an item to the Agenda Committee and it will eventually get calendared for the GM.  And so it proceeded for the group of members who requested a "Discussion about Conducting a Membership-wide referendum on the participation of the PSFC in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid policies."

    A Park Slope Food Coop GM "discussion" consists of 3 parts.  First, the submitting party presents the agenda item.  Second, members may ask clarifying questions to the submitting party about the item.  Finally, there is a period for comment, where members are called up one at a time for 2-3 minutes to state their opinions on the measure at hand.  No vote is taken.

    If you were hoping for logical presentations of well reasoned arguments and proofs by opposing sides,  you would be disappointed. 

    The "discussion" was conducted as described above, with one exception. A statement by Rabbi Bachman opposing the boycott was read prior to opening the floor to comments.  Rabbi Bachman is the senior rabbi at the nearby synagogue where the Coop holds the GM.    In all, 25 members treated us to their sound bites.  14 spoke out in opposition to BDS, 9 were in favor, and 2 made neutral comments.  Time ran out, and we voted to adjourn.

    I was surprised by the lack of substance in the BDS presentation.  They spent most of their time talking about how a referendum was more democratic than a General Meeting.  They did not identify the goals of the BDS movement.  They did not provide a single specific example of Israel's horrible behaviors, other than the vague terms "violations of human rights and international law" and "apartheid."  Could it be that they can't substantiate these claims? And why hide the nature of BDS?

    Maybe you can find an answer in the video at the top left.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    How BDS Hurts Food Coops - Pt. 1

    This video has interviews with members of the Port Townsend Food Co-op and the Olympia Food Co-op.  In Port Townsend, the BDS attempt failed.  In Olympia, it succeeded by subverting the democratic process.  I will write more about Olympia soon, or you can read all the posts at Divest This!

    In the meantime, you can listen to these long time co-op members and board member tell the story of how BDS tore their community apart.

    Neutral Spaces

    Our Coop is a food store. Our work requirement is the key element that allows the coop to provides our low prices.   There is a bonus; we get to work and interact, even form friendships, with diverse  groups of people, many of whom we would never meet otherwise.

    Life provides many opportunities for interaction within our own particular communities, be they political, religious, ethnic, national, regional, etc. To build broader communities, we require neutral spaces where people with different politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc. can meet and interact with each other as people, without regard to the barriers that separate us in other settings. The coop is one of these neutral spaces.

    When we interact in these neutral environments, we learn to recognize our common humanity, to dispel stereotypes about each other and to begin to respect those with whom we disagree or who are different from us.

    Politicizing neutral institutions destroys this source of community and opportunity for interaction. If an organization like the Park Slope Food Coop were to adopt positions on divisive political issues, then it really would no longer be open to everyone. No one joins or continues to support an organization espousing political positions he or she abhors.

    If the Coop considers adopting divisive political positions, its membership will fragment. This is what happens when previously open communal organizations take sides on political controversies on which their members strongly disagree.

    Our Coop is worth protecting and preserving. Our members must resist attempts to use our Coop as a political weapon to be fought over and captured.



    The above was adopted from a March 2010 essay by Alan Brownstein, professor of constitutional law at the UC Davis School of Law. The essay was written in response to the BDS effort at the Davis Food Cooperative. It was originally published in the Davis Enterprise, and re-posted on the Davis Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice in the Middle East web site. You can read the original here.

    The Board of Directors of the Davis Food Cooperative ultimately rejected a member initiative to vote on joining BDS. It was determined the initiative did not have a "lawful and proper purpose" according to their by-laws.

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    About the UN

    One of the BDS claims is "abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN."

    The UN has performed outstanding work in the areas of health, hunger and agriculture development.

    It also has ignored conflicts, human rights abuses and humanitarian crises in places like China, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Congo, and Algeria, to name a few.


    Jerusalem Institute for Justice put together this video explaining the politics of how this came to be that so much attention is place on Israel, and the unfree states of the world are ignored.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    The Apartheid Lie Demonizes

    This is huge.  Toronto gets it. 

    The Toronto City Council passed a motion requesting the City Manager to update the city's  anti-discrimination policy.   The councillors don't want to fund the Pride Parade if the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid will use the event to promote an anti-Israel message.

    Changes sought to city's anti-discrimination policy after Gay Pride flap

    [Councillor James] Pasternak maintained that the group's [Queers Against Israeli Apartheid] very name - which links Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the South African Apartheid movement - was provocative and designed to demonize Israel and Jews.

    Pasternak said he's hoping that a new policy will be tougher in dealing with speech deemed offensive to groups in the city - and would prohibit messaging such as Queers Against Israeli Apartheid deliver.

    "This is a group that is designed to demonize," he said. "We have a responsibility here and now to make sure that groups like that and others aren't given public space in which to operate. We had some holes in our current policy and we weren't able to really come to the conclusion that the term 'Israeli apartheid' violated that policy. We're hoping for a refreshed policy so that those terms are deemed to be discriminatory."

    This is very brave.

    Notice the phrase "speech deemed as offensive to groups in the city."  Here is the rub when you are talking to a BDS supporter.  Israel is Jewish, except when it isn't.  When BDS calls it "racist,"  Israel is Jewish.  When you say BDS is anti-Semitic, they say Israel isn't Jewish.  They conveniently deny to us the ability to define what is anti-Semitic.  However, the EU does have a working definition.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Our First Letter to the Linewaiters' Gazette

    The May 19 issue of Linewaiters' Gazette had this letter from us.  We had 24 signatures.
    We joined the coop for the food. We didn't join to have our politics decided for us. We didn't join to have ourselves identified with movements we find objectionable.  We joined for the food...and lots of it.

    Sometimes we disagree with each other, even strongly.  Remember the controversies?  Expansion, cheese counter, shopping carts, meat, beer, plastic bags, Barney’s.  Nonetheless, together we work for the good of the store.  We have created a special place where many diverse people work together and form friendships.  We all share our interest in healthy food and we all want to see our coop thrive and prosper.
     
    Yet, some people feel entitled to use our good reputation to promote their cause.  Some are so focused on their cause, they cannot see who will be hurt in the process.  We refer to the people who have submitted an item to the agenda committee to hold a referendum on joining the BDS (boycott, divest and sanctions of Israel) movement.

    The promotion of this proposal, regardless of outcome, will alienate a substantial number of coop members.  Many will choose to leave because they will no longer feel welcomed.  Have the promoters of BDS considered the potential financial impact on the coop?  We have a legitimate right to a peaceful, conflict-free, profitable coop.

    We oppose the forwarding of this item to the General Meeting and we call upon the submitters to voluntarily withdraw it, because we believe the coop is about food first, even food politics, but not geo-politics.  Our aisles are already filled with shoppers and carts; we don’t need soap boxes, too.  Give peas a chance.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Gilad Shalit

    On June 25th, 2006,  the 19-year-old Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by the terrorist organization Hamas. For the almost five years, he has been held captive illegally, in isolation, in unknown conditions. Hamas has forbidden him contact with the outside world, communication with his family, and basic humanitarian access from the Red Cross. These are clear violations of International Law, the Geneva Conventions and common human decency.

    This September, the Palestinian Authority - which has united with Hamas - will seek approval from the United Nations to establish a state.  It is time for us to remind the world that no state should be established upon such crimes. We must exert pressure on the international community for Gilad's immediate release.


    Money is being raised to erect a billboard near the UN, to remind the U.N. that they cannot continue to ignore these terrorist actions, bypass the peace process, and legitimize Hamas.

    Click here to pledge money for this effort.  You will only be charged once enough money is raised.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    A BDS Resolution Gets Withdrawn

    From Stand With Us:
    On April 13th, 2011, the Associated Students (AS), the official student representatives at UC San Diego, passed a resolution authored by Academic Senator Adi Singer, stating that it was not the place of the Associated Students to pass resolutions that will divide the campus community and alienate specific groups. The resolution called for neutrality of the student senate, and reinforced the mission statement of building a cohesive campus community, and representing a diverse but unified voice. Two weeks ago, Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) submitted a resolution calling upon the UC Regents to divest the retirement and pension funds from General Electric and Northrop Grumman, specifically because of their business dealings with the Israeli Defense Forces. Through intense lobbying of elected representatives an direct, peaceful dialogue with SJP,  the Tritons for Israel, a pro-Israel student group at UCSD, were able to achieve great success when last night, April 27th, SJP actually withdrew their divestment resolution, and it was not raised for consideration at the student senate.

    In an opinion piece published in the campus paper today and authored by Tritons for Israel student leadership, "Tritons for Israel has always and will continue to stand for peace, dialogue, and justice. Divestment is not the way to a durable peace. Only by speaking to one another can we achieve a true understanding, and build the bridges necessary for a sustainable coexistence. Tritons for Israel hopes that we will someday have a willing partner in the struggle to achieve a sustainable end to the conflict, both in the Middle East and here on our campus."
    If they can do it at UC San Diego, we can do it in Park Slope.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut

    The celebration of Israel's independence begins tonight at sundown. 63 years.  We have a lot to be grateful for.  Most of us don't know a world without a Jewish State.  In spite of horrible opposition and existential threats, Israel has built a country that contributes to the world in science, technology and art.  It has a bustling economy and a high quality of life according to every measurement.

    Israel does not have an official religion, but it does have a Jewish majority.

    There are 47 states where Muslims are a majority.  23 of them are either Islamic states or Islam is the state religion.  Over 100 states where Christians are the majoriy, in 13 it is the official religion.  There are 3 states where Buddhism is the official religion.

    There is only 1 Jewish State.
     
    Elder of Ziyon has created a series of posters "This is Zionism" to honor Israel's Independence.  They are all wonderful.  Here are 2 of them:
       

    Go and see all of them.  Elder also created the Apartheid Posters I used in the Apartheid Canard post.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Talking Points

    1) Some coop members are attempting to use the food coop as a bull horn for promoting a position antagonistic to the State of Israel.   A second group of members, mostly Jews, disagree and believe this will be detrimental to the food coop.  So, the second group is organizing and using the democratic process within the food coop to prevent it from happening.  Is that a news story?  Is it so surprising for Jews to stand up for themselves?


    2) For people who say the occupation is the sole problem:  Have you forgotten the occupation was an outcome of a war instigated by Egypt and Syria, with the intention of "driving the Jews into the sea"?  Jordan joined into that war, even though Israel warned them not to.  When the fighting stopped, Egypt, Syria and Jordan refused to make peace.  The Palestinian Authority turned down peace offers in 2000, 2002 and 2008.  The occupation continues because the Palestinians won't make peace.  Instead of making a deal with Israel, Mr. Abbas made a deal with Hamas, whose charter calls for killing Jews.  Not Zionists, not Israelis, but Jews.

    Get it right:  Arab terror organizations are not opposed to Israel because of the occupation.  The occupation exists because of Arab terror.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    BDS and Food Coops - Davis

    A year ago, the board of the Davis Food Co-op was faced with a BDS initiative.  They determined that BDS was not appropriate for their coop and did not allow a member-wide vote to go forward.  I summarized their reasons in a letter published in the Linewaiters' Gazette in September 2010.
    The Davis Food Coop was also faced with members suggesting the coop join the boycott. Davis’ by-laws require that the co-op’s board of directors first approve a vote by determining if the proposed question is legal and serves a e “proper purpose.” After research and discussion with the membership, the Davis board determined the boycott failed the “proper purpose” test. The board reasoned that participation in the boycott would conflict with the general principles of the international co-op movement (the Rochdale Principles) which emphasize “political (and religious) neutrality and the dangers of meddling in political (and religious) affairs.” It would require the organization to accept as truth statements that could, at best, be characterized as opinion or selective presentations of fact. Furthermore, the board noted that cooperatives “that have failed to abide by this essential principle of political neutrality have been harmed by the divisiveness that such issues cause among members.”
    It is worthwhile to read the entire text of the Board's resolution.  The Davis Co-op ended up dedicating a full page of their web-site to the BDS issue and debate at their coop.  This is a preview for what is in store for us, if the proposal moves forward.

    Buy Dorot chopped frozen herbs.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    More Hummus, Please

    We joined the co-op for the food. We didn't join to have our politics decided for us. We didn't join to have ourselves identified with an organization that supports something we don't support. We joined for the food...and lots of it.

    Today, we met. There were 19 of us who oppose the coop joining the BDS movement. We decided for every issue of Linewaiters' Gazette to submit a letter stating reasons why joining BDS is detrimental to the coop. We will all put our names on the letters.

    Then we wanted a name for our group. We chose "More Hummus, Please." We want hummus...and local produce, organic vegetables, environmentally-friendly products and we want a pleasant store, where we will feel welcomed. Food brings people together.

    In the spirit of food, and bringing people together, I share with you this video from the folks at Israel21c. "Taste of Peace" is a unique master chef's team based in Jerusalem, consisting of a Jewish, Arab Christian, Arab Muslim, and Armenian chef. They recently won several Gold Medals in the "Olympics of Cooking", the Villeroy and Boch Culinary World Cup, in Luxembourg. Here they cook a lavish meal together in a Jerusalem home. Video by Harvey Stein.



    Four Jerusalem chefs - hey, where is the hummous?

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    The Apartheid Canard

    Q: What does Apartheid have to do with Israel?

    A: Absolutely nothing.

    Yet, the BDS movement accuses Israel of being an apartheid state to justify the call to boycott.  Apartheid is mentioned in 3 of the pro-BDS letters printed in the Gazette and twice in the submission to the agenda committee.

    "Apartheid" is an Afrikaans word meaning "apartness."  It is the name of the system of harsh and brutal discriminatory laws instituted in South Africa in the 20th century to maintain the dominance of the minority white population over the 90% majority non-white population.  In the 1980’s there was a movement to boycott South Africa, as a way of supporting the anti-apartheid activists in South Africa.  Apartheid was abolished in 1994.

    By making the “apartheid” accusation, BDS tries to equate Israel with South Africa, making it worthy of our approbation and boycott.  The accusation is a complete denial of historical fact.  The analogy is false.

    The apartheid canard illustrates the BDS movement’s Bigotry, Dishonesty, anti-Semitism.

    Dishonesty:  The Israeli Arabs have full civil rights.  They are free to vote and hold political office.  They have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, including even criticizing the government and suing in court.  They are not restricted in education or profession.  Arabs serve as officers in the army, a supreme court justice and President of the State.  None of this was available to the non-white South Africans.  To use the term “apartheid” is to diminish and disrespect the suffering of non-white South Africans.

    Bigotry:  Palestinian refugees and their descendents have been denied absorption and citizenship in all but one of their host countries.  Those same countries rejected the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State and they declared war on the newborn Jewish State.  They caused the Arabs to flee and become refugees.  Could you imagine if the U.S. refused to absorb the refugees created by its involvement in Vietnam?  BDS does not stand up for the right of those Arabs. 
    What about the Arabs living under the administration of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas?  They have not had elections in over 5 years.  They are not free to criticize their government.  They do not have free press.  Christians are not free to practice without harassment.  Women do not have equal rights and homosexuals are persecuted.  Who stands up for their rights?

    More Dishonesty and some anti-Semitism: BDS refers to Israel as a colonial presence and Zionism as a colonial movement, attempting to equate the Jews with white European South Africans.  Colonists are foreigners settled in a territory for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the sovereignty of their mother country.  Jews who immigrated to the Ottoman Districts of Jerusalem and Beirut were not representatives of their countries, nor were they attempting to supplant the local Ottoman rulers.  They came to live their lives as Jews in the Land of Jewish origins, to join the uninterrupted Jewish community there, and to escape oppression in their previous country of residence.  They were not colonists.  Calling Jews colonists is an attempt to deny the connection between the Jewish people and the Holy Land, to deny the Jewish historical and cultural legacy, to deny the authenticity of the Jewish People.  In other words, it is an attempt to erase an essential part of Jewish identity.  That is anti-Semitism.

    The apartheid claim is a false accusation.  It is designed to demonize, delegitimize and isolate the Jewish State.  It is part of the overall BDS strategy to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Look Who Also Says It Isn't Apartheid!!

    Ishmael Khaldi is the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco and a Bedouin from Northern Israel.  Two years ago he wrote a response to Israel Apartheid Week in the  San Francisco Chronicle:
    If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.
    Go read the whole thing.

    Pray for the complete recovery of Daniel Aryeh Ben Tamar, the 16 year old boy severely injured in his school bus when it was hit by a laser guided anti-tank missile fired from Gaza on April 7, 2011