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)