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.


  1. Barbara:
    you are an inspiration, please keep up the good work.

  2. Also Mr. Edelstein is proof to those who claim the Palestinians have no other choice but violence. The "refusenicks" are proof of non-violent protest. Their goal was not the destruction of any other culture but a validation of their own.

  3. You mind us that demonstrating can be successful without Molotov cocktails and homicide bombers. Would that people could learn from that.


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