Monday, December 3, 2012

Why Sign the "Stand Up Against Boycotting Israel" Petition

I am not a great believer in internet petitions.  I don't like giving out my email address. 

I am making an exception for this petition, Stand Up Against Boycotting Israel, put together by Stand With Us,
We, the undersigned, stand together in support of the State of Israel. We call upon all people who side with freedom, to stand up against this boycott movement. We stand up for the State of Israel in its struggle to protect its citizens from rocket attacks and other terror attacks.

We stand for democratic values, peaceful coexistence, and a safe and secure Israel. Israel is the only free democracy in the Middle East with equal rights for all its citizens, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Israel stands on the front line of the free world in the fight against terrorism.

I am adding my voice to this petition and I stand against the boycott movement. Boycotting Israel serves no constructive purpose and only undermines peace efforts.

I, and people much smarter than I, have written hundreds of posts about the BDS movement: its goal to eliminate Israel as the Jewish homeland, the false accusations, the falsified history, the pretense of supporting human rights, the delusions of its supporters, the hijacking of the civic space and so on.

What good is a petition?  Simple.  Numbers.  Demonstrate that large numbers oppose BDS.

From my own BDS battle at the Park Slope Food Coop, I experienced first hand how this small group can make a lot of noise.  Ensconced within their echo chamber, the BDSers think everyone thinks the same as they do.  They intimidate.

Just suppose there was one place where you could show how many people there are on our side.  What could they say then?

Please sign and distribute the petition.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

About that 4% Number

Just how much support was there at the Park Slope Food Coop for BDS?

If you are just coming to this story, here is a quick recap:

The Coop's governance system allows for anyone to submit something to be discussed at a General Meeting.  There is an Agenda Committee tasked with scheduling the item for presentation.  Theoretically, every proposal will eventually be presented.  All members are eligible to attend a General Meeting.  Attendance is optional.

On March 27, 2012, a proposal to conduct a referendum to boycott Israel and endorse the BDS movement was presented at the General Meeting.  Or, as it became known, "the vote on the vote."

The Coop had about 16,000 members at the time.  1,658 members came to the General Meeting and submitted ballots.  The final tally was 1,005 votes against the referendum and 653 in favor.  A 61% to 39% split among the people who came to vote.

Only 653 out of 16,000 members voted in favor of the referendum.  About 4%.

But isn't the General Meeting a statistical sample?  Can't we extrapolate the 39% to the entire membership?  No.  The people who attended the meeting were a self-selected group.  They were particularly motivated to give up an evening to attend the General Meeting.  I know the people who rearranged their schedules, made special transportation arrangements, or found babysitters so they would be free to attend.  Everyone who came cared about the issue.  90% did not show up.

What does all this mean? Even within the liberal Park Slope, within the progressive Park Slope Food Coop, support for BDS was only marginal.  BDS is a fringe movement.  It is not a main stream progressive cause.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Don't Use the Linewaiters' Gazette for Promoting Hate

An appeal to the Park Slope Food Coop Coordinators and Members of the Board of Directors

My husband and I have been Coop members for over 23 years, and my friendship with some of you goes back that far.  You have my deepest respect and appreciation for the work you have done to create and maintain the Coop.  You are the stewards of the Coop.

You listened to my concerns when the pro-BDS group began their efforts at the Coop.  You empathized with me.  Although you opposed the BDS initiative because you recognized its potential negative effect, you declined to interfere with the process of Coop governance.  Instead, you opted to allow the BDS initiative to proceed to the General Meeting with the expectation that a political defeat for the action would put the issue to rest.  I disagreed, yet I respected your decision.  I defended it when I spoke to the press, and I never disparaged the Coop publicly.

When we held the vote on the BDS referendum proposal, less than 4% of the total Coop membership came out to vote in its favor.  BDS was overwhelmingly rejected by the membership.  Yet, a few members continue to utilize the Linewaiters’ Gazette as a platform for promoting their anti-Israel agenda.  They submit letters containing distortions, misrepresentations and false statements.  It is a campaign designed to instill hatred.

Over the past several weeks, those of us with connections to Israel have seen our friends, relatives and loved ones subjected to the barrages of hundreds of rockets.  These rockets are directed at the civilian population with the intention to kill, maim and terrorize.  The Hamas charter states “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”  It is the extraordinary measure on the part of Israel to protect its citizens that has minimized the casualties and damage. 

To end these attacks upon its citizens, Israel is targeting the weapons caches and the terrorists responsible for the rockets.  The Israeli weapons, unlike the Hamas rockets, do not target civilians.  Nevertheless, there will be loss of life and property among Gaza civilians because of Hamas rockets that will fall short, because of secondary explosions from Hamas weapons stored in residential neighbors, and because of Israel’s strikes on these legitimate military targets intentionally located in civilian areas.  We are sensitive to this.

While our people are in jeopardy, are we also to be demonized and vilified in our Coop’s newspaper for legitimate acts of self-defense?  Are we to be subjected to the rants used to promote hatred of Israelis and justification for terrorism?

Earlier today I submitted a letter to the Linewaiters’ Gazette, urging the editorial teams to institute a moratorium on all submissions related to the Israel/Palestinian/Arab conflict and/or the BDS movement.  I hope that rather than print my letter they will take my suggestion to heart and start the moratorium immediately.

Even though Gazette policy is the responsibility of editors, I ask you, as Coordinators and Board Members, to encourage the editors to take this step.  You have the support 96% of the Coop.  Inclusiveness and respect for diverse identities are Coop values.  A moratorium is a way to support these values.

Dear Gazette Editorial Teams:

If the Gazette is going to continue to publish submissions relating to the Israel/Palestinian/Arab conflict and the BDS movement, then I recommend that the teams meet and agree upon clear and consistent guidelines.  These should include:
a)      exact definitions for what crosses the boundaries from legitimate discussion to any form of hate speech or racism
b)      standards for conducting fact-checking and evaluation of sources
c)      minimum qualifications and background knowledge for anyone tasked with making the above judgements.
This is a rather large demand to make of a volunteer staff of a food coop newspaper.  It is much simpler to declare a moratorium on all submissions related the subject.

The Gazette’s purpose should be to build and strengthen our community, and inform us about the issues that relate to our store, our food supply and our common purpose.  Yet, the newspaper has been allowed to become a vehicle of small group of Coop members for the promotion of anti-Israel propaganda.  In March, the Coop community was given the opportunity to weigh in on the question of BDS.  Less than 4% of the total membership showed up to vote in favor of the proposal.  The membership has overwhelmingly rejected the discussion.  It is of no relevance, appropriateness or benefit to the Park Slope Food Coop community.

These anti-Israel letters are harmful to the community.  They contain distortions, misrepresentations and false statements.  The letters are designed to instill hatred; the content is at times anti-Semitic.  No amount of vehement denials by the authors can negate the pernicious effect of these letters upon my segment of the Coop community.  We are being attacked at the heart of our national and religious identity.

Gazette editors have on multiple occasions refused to publish content they deemed inappropriate.  Discretion is not censorship.  There is no shortage of other media for the expression of anti-Israel views.  After nearly four years of acrimony surrounding these letters, there is nothing new to be said or accomplished at the Coop.  Let’s institute the moratorium and allow healing to begin.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anonymous No Longer

When I started doing this blog, it seemed natural to be anonymous.  I am not interested in self-promotion.  I also expected others would join me in writing the blog.  That didn't happen.

Over the last few months, I have been weighing the the advantages, disadvantages and reasons for anonymity for myself.  In the end, I have decided to come out.  Here's why:

In the age of the internet, there is no more privacy.   Once you have appeared on the Daily Show, been written about in the Wall Street Journal, The Jewish Week, Tablet Magazine and The Wifely Person Speaks, and trashed on the Mondoweis blog and in The Nation, can you still think you are anonymous?  Before last year it would have been very hard to find anything about me if you googled my name.  Now, fuggedaboutit.

I am proud of what I have done.  There is no reason to hide my name.

On Twitter, I am "Stop BDS."  I began to feel that it would be more friendly to have my name and picture. 

Finally, I believe using my name makes me a more effective advocate.  So here I am:

Barbara Simon Mazor, wife, mother, engineer and activist.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sacramento-Ashkelon Sister Cities - Another BDS Fail

Sister Cities is a cultural exchange program between American cities and other cities all over the world. Last night - in spite of a fierce campaign by the Israel haters against the proposal - the Sacramento City Council unanimously voted to approve becoming Sister Cities with Ashkelon.

Congratulations Sarcramento for choosing:
  • Friendship instead of Enmity 
  • Building instead of Destroying 
  • Hope instead of Despair 
  • The Future instead of The Past 

Sister Cities - Sacramento Bee
Sister Cities - JTA

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Egypt: 17 year-old Copt Goes to Prison for Posting a Cartoon on Facebook

This is totally unrelated to BDS and to Park Slope, but it really bothers me. Perhaps it is because I am the mother of young men. The title says it all. You can read the details and here. So much for Arab Spring. Where are the human rights activists?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Come to the Conversation

The Park Slope Food Coop members for BDS published on their website a strong condemnation of Mayor Bloomberg and other New York City elected officials for their comments prior to the Coop's vote on the BDS referendum last month.  The post is copied in its entirety below.

The PSFC BDSers see themselves as defenders of human rights, committed to non-violence.  They are appalled that anyone would suggest they support violence or accuse them of anti-Semitism.  They describe themselves as "people of conscience" and "truly interested in the safety and future well-being of Israelis."  I believe them.  I also believe they are fooling themselves if they think the BDS Movement has any relationship to human rights, international law or bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict. I invite my BDS-supporting fellow Coop members to a conversation.

Let's engage in an honest evaluation of the movement you support and your actions at the Coop. Here is the opportunity to hold the conversation you seek. I will publish (unedited) whatever you send to me. I will begin.

You write regarding the Mayor's comments,
On March 27, 2012, the New York Times published a story quoting Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials making deeply offensive and ignorant remarks about members of the Park Slope Food Coop who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

While other city officials smeared the BDS movement as “anti-Semitic,” Mayor Bloomberg went one step further and accused BDS advocates of wanting “Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred.”
According to the New York Times, the Mayor said:
Asked about the issue at a news conference in Brooklyn, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called Israel a close financial and political ally and said he wondered why the co-op would conduct a foreign policy debate.

“Why any of this has anything to do with selling food, I don’t know,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

The mayor said he would encourage New Yorkers to do more business with Israel, not less, and noted that Israel itself had been formed after a vote at the United Nations, then in Flushing, Queens.

“I think it has nothing to do with the food,” he said of the boycott. “The issue is there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred, and America is not going to let that happen.”
The Mayor questions the Coop's consideration of the boycott and says he disagrees with boycotting Israel.  He never mentions PSFC members nor boycott supporters.  He says, "there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred," without identifying those people.  Nonetheless, a Mondoweiss writer asks, "[Do] Supporters of nonviolent boycott want Israelis to be massacred?"

The weekend prior to the Mayor's comments, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee fired more than 300 missiles and rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, targeting more than a million people. The rockets did not result in Israeli deaths due to Israel's warning and shelter systems, the Iron Dome anti-missile system and good luck.

Do you agree that Palestinian Islamic Jihad is not non-violent?  Do you agree that Hamas, whose charter calls for the elimination of Israel and killing Jews, is not non-violent?

Here is the rub.  The Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine is the first name listed as endorsing the call to BDS.  Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as other terrorist groups, are  members of the Council.  So, yes, supporters of your boycott not only want Israelis to be massacred, but have actually conducted massacres.

One of your members wrote in the March 8 Linewaiters' Gazette p.6: "While voting at our General Meeting on March 27, please think about Khadar Adnan."

Do you know Khadar Adnan is a high ranking spokesman for Islamic Jihad? How do you feel about the video of him at a 2007 rally saying “Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”

How do you reconcile this with your commitment to non-violence?

You object that the boycott is labeled "anti-Semitic." There are objective definitions of anti-Semitism. I have shown your movement satisfies the definition. Do you reject the definition? If so, on what basis and what is your definition? Do you agree with the function of a definition?

You brought Joel Kovel and Phil Weiss to speak in our Coop.  I wrote a critique of Kovel (p.14). There are numerous critiques of the Mondoweiss site.  As people of conscience, how do you respond?

I look forward to your replies.

From the PSFC-BDS website:

Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS Condemn Mayor Bloomberg’s Slanderous Remarks

On March 27, 2012, the New York Times published a story quoting Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials making deeply offensive and ignorant remarks about members of the Park Slope Food Coop who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights.

While other city officials smeared the BDS movement as “anti-Semitic,” Mayor Bloomberg went one step further and accused BDS advocates of wanting “Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred.”

As Coop members who support BDS and who proposed that the Coop have a membership-wide vote on the issue, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the false and slanderous characterizations of the BDS movement and those who support it made by Mayor Bloomberg and the others quoted in the Times article.

In particular, it is deeply ironic that Mayor Bloomberg accuses supporters of BDS of encouraging or wishing to engage in violent acts, as BDS is an integral part of the nonviolent Palestinian civil society movement aimed at achieving the protection of Palestinian rights through exclusively peaceful means.

It is also ironic and worrisome that Mayor Bloomberg and other elected city officials would seek to discourage the Coop from having a democratic vote on the matter, and to do so publicly the day before Coop members cast their ballots.

If Mayor Bloomberg and the others knew anything about the BDS movement, they would know that it is comprised of people of conscience of all faiths, including many Jews, and including many Israeli Jews, who have decided to take action to end Israel’s system of military occupation, colonization, and racial discrimination against Palestinians where politicians like themselves have failed to do so.

If Mayor Bloomberg and the other city officials who have condemned us are truly interested in the safety and future well-being of Israelis – 20 percent of whom are Palestinian – we encourage them to come down to the Coop sometime and we’ll explain what BDS is really about, and why it’s necessary.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Do They Win When They Lose?

Divest This! can provide a long litany of cases where BDS loses, yet still claims victory.  "Look at how much opposition we generated! It shows how powerful we are."  No, it shows how odious you are.

Ari Goldman provides his analysis of the media coverage, and concludes:
I think it is difficult to find a victory in all this for the BDS folks. The vote, after all, was 1,005 against the boycott and 653 voting in favor. The only smart thing that the BDS advocates did was to wage their fight on a very public stage, Park Slope, where they got oodles of publicity. BDS supporters should be careful not to confuse publicity with victory. They lost. Big time.
I agree. I also think all this publicity will shine daylight on the movement, and reveal it to be the anti-peace, hate program that it really is. Ultimately, it will be further marginalized.

I hope that this will lead all those well-intentioned, passionate youth to focus their attention on true peace-building efforts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hate Comments

I suppose all bloggers - but especially anyone who steps into the Israel/Palestinians debate - have to deal with hate mail at some point.  What do you do with the comments that include profanity?  What do you do with the comments that make Nazi comparisons?

Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, frequently blogs about Israel and so, receives a fair share of hate mail.  Every so often, Goldblog selects a few emails to publish on his blog.  Taking a cue from him, I shall embrace the hate and share with you - in bright red color to enhance the emotional effect - these impassioned missives.  (I substitute symbols for the characters in the profanities.  In the actual comments the words were written out.)

These 5 comments were received the day after the BDS referendum was defeated.  They were all posted to  More Hummus, Please
Do you guys feel ridiculous after the Daily Show bit? You should. It's %*@&king food, and you cannot dictate world politics with your wallet, despite what you may think.
I am not sure what this writer wants to say.  I didn't feel ridiculous after the Daily Show.  I think he is using the Jews, money and world control trope, here.  Nice.
Oh, censorship, how convenient. Good job. Surely, you will stop the maltreatment of Palestinians through censorship on your сrappy site.
 i do think its a good thing to ban cor. im sick to wtch evry day the jews being like the germans in 1940s what did they do so wrong what is nit going on today since the 50s the jews been killing many so yes ban all your stuff untill you jew see that killing in any way is never right at all and for land as well wow looks to me the jews are the new germens... opps for got they well not post this truth sucks dont it
See, I posted it.
Sorry, Israel is a criminal state and we need a regime change there. There are plenty of moderate and reasonable Israeli people who would be far better representatives of the Jewish State than the criminal Zionist terrorists who rule that country. Sorry if the truth hurts folks!
You are a sick person, need to be destroyed? But why, just because they oppose the way Israel treats it citizens and the way they try to destroy the Palestinians lifes and families, just like the Nazis did
This was in response to the following comment which I was really ambivalent about posting:
I like you, the BDS people are people who need to be destroyed in any way possible I wish there were more Israeli products where I live, I have to send through mail order to buy most things,
I might have actually posted the reply, if the writer hadn't used the N-word.

Finally, I have this one from August 2011.  It came shortly after a piece about the Food Coop appeared on Mondoweiss.  The author identifies himself as "David Levine."
Aww, poor little racist $#!*s. Time to end the illegal Zionist occupation of Palestine and institute a true democracy with equal rights and justice for all. Justice will include, of course, full punishment for the numerous savage murders, massacres, thefts, and other transgressions of the vicious Zionist occupation.
That is all of them. Freedom of expression.

Obviously, these people all write from the perspective of being caring individuals. Perhaps some day their great passion for humanity will inspire them to investigate outside of their comfort zone and to shake off their confirmation bias. Surely a humanitarian can see both sides of the story.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Daily Show Segment

The Coop vote became quite a media sensation, including a segment from the Daily Show. We filmed this a few weeks before the vote (on Ta'anit Esther and Purim), but it aired the night of the vote. Since we already knew the referendum was defeated by the time we viewed it, I enjoyed it doubly.

If anyone ever offers you an opportunity to be on the Daily Show, take it. They are the nicest people and I had so much fun. You see me doing a real shopping and Samantha Bee actually helped me unload my groceries at the checkout.

The Wifely Person commented on the segment:
It was clear from the cutting that Barbara Mazor of More Hummus, Please (and the lady who led the anti-BDS fight) represented the sane side of the argument.
When Comedy Central makes you out to be "less" crazy, it's a clear win.
Full disclosure: Wifely Person is my cousin. Every Monday evening she posts a new piece of wisdom or advice on a broad range of subjects. She is definitely worth adding to your reading list.

The BDS Video

What is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement really about?

Ending Israel as Jewish State.

Listen to the movements leaders in their own words.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Did It! Another BDS Fail

We are pleased to report at tonight’s General Meeting of the Park Slope food coop, the members voted to reject and defeat the attempt to have our food coop join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel Movement. The Board of Directors affirmed the members’ vote. Our Coop was the winner tonight. Food and community triumphed. The Coop will continue its mission to provide great food at great prices.

We have proved that it is possible for a highly diverse group to work together collectively to build a successful enterprise based on an unusual business model. The Coop is a place where people park their politics at the door. As always, we will welcome people of all beliefs and interests to build a strong and dynamic community.

The BDS movement does nothing to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or improve the lives of Palestinians. Peace will come through a negotiated settlement between the 2 sides that will include mutual recognition of rights and national aspirations. The BDS leadership works against peace by rejecting all cooperative endeavors between Israelis and Palestinians. By placing all blame on one side only, and by ignoring context, the BDS movement serves to bolster the most rejectionist elements of the Palestinian cause. The real goal of BDS is to end the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

The Coop is proud to join the other institutions that have rejected BDS.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coop Vote on Israeli Products Is Not Democratic

The following was written by Coop member Richard:

The coop newsletter calls this meeting on a referendum vote a shining example of the democratic process. It is not. It is a shining example of discrimination, which is contrary to the principles of our Mission statement and contrary to democratic principles. It singles out one nation based on one's political view of them and introduces this as a constant element in coop decision making.

Further, the motion is not democratic because it puts in jeopardy my and others' right to buy Israeli products, or for Israel to sell them here. If you want to protest Israel, don't buy their stuff or tell your friends not to buy their stuff. If you want to call for a boycott, stand outside with your leaflets, at least 20 feet from the entrance, and do your thing. Or call for a debate somewhere on the topic. But don't force your political viewpoint on us and the entire coop.

It also sets a dangerous precedent, allowing or encouraging other groups to call for referendums against countries they don't like based on those countries' political positions. Thus, everyone's right to buy products they like from various countries may be put in jeopardy--African Americans for buying from African countries; Arabs from Arab countries; etc. And having more referendum meetings of a political nature like this will create disruption and waste everyone's valuable time.

The coop can decide against a farm or some organization if they produce products of questionable safety, according to our mission statement. This has not been proven against the Israeli products. Furthermore, they are going after an entire country, one that is a US ally and a democratic nation.

By making politics the reason for deciding coop food buying policies, this Arab-supporting group is introducing divisiveness into a harmonious setting; not only are they not peace-loving, but they thrive on this divisiveness and publicity because it calls attention to their propaganda and one-sided cause. They are bringing the political ills of the world into the food coop's decision-making process, which can threaten to split us asunder. Even the co-founder of the food coop opposes this motion.

The coop newsletter article also mentions that Israel "only" has a few products that are sold here, as if boycotting Israel is an insignificant act for this reason. It is not the case. Even if Israel only had one damn salt shaker on our shelves, I would still defend their right to sell it, as I would any country's. True democracy is defending the minority against the majority. By defending Israel's right to sell, you also defend other countries right to sell--and the opposition will be surprised to know that this includes Arab products as well.

Moreover, on the "only a few products" topic, why has a boycott not been brought up before when the United States invaded Iraq, which so many in the coop and neighborhood opposed? Why didn't others boycott US products? Answer: because maybe the vast majority of the products at the coop are domestic, so we couldn't afford to. In other words, the BDS is picking on Israel because it's a small country with a small list of products and lacked the gumption to take on the US. In other words, the opposition are no more than bullies...And what about China and its continual infractions on human rights? Why haven't their products been boycotted? Or Venezuela? The list is endless.

This meeting should really be about ending this politicization of coop buying policies forever.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SodaStream Again

The SodaStream carbonator is one of the products targeted as part of the boycott of Israel.  Not only does the Coop have over $150,000/year in gross revenues from the sale of SodaStream products, we  are also collectively keeping over half a million soda bottles out of the waste stream.

SodaStream has 18 production and filling sites worldwide, with the primary one located in Mishor Adumim, part of Zone C, an area designated as under Israeli control according to the Oslo accords, and its final status is to be determined through negotiations.  Despite claims to the contrary, there is nothing illegal about neither the factory nor its exports.

The Mishor Adumim facility was built on deserted land leased in 1998. In the event that this area will be transferred to the new State of Palestine, it will be for the new authority to decide if they want to keep this plant, which employs hundreds of Palestinians. It is a good business and would likely just end up paying taxes to the new entity and continue on.  If asked, SodaStream will close this plant.

The SodaStream factory employs 300 Palestinian workers from the local villages, who earn 4 to 6 times more than they would where they live. They get social benefits – medical, maternity leave, etc., which is unheard of in their villages. Independent auditing companies have found the working conditions, compensation plan and general employee atmosphere to be excellent.  Each worker is providing for the needs of approximately 10 people on his/her salary.  Those who wish to shut down the Mishor Adumim plant do not have the Palestinian workers' best interests at heart.

Rather than targeted, SodaStream should be recognized for its positive contribution to the welfare of its employees and for bringing people from different and often opposing backgrounds to work together in peace and harmony. Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Jews, Ethiopians, Russians, Americans and Bedouins, all work together, under one roof, at the same production lines.  SodaStream brings work to an area with more than 30% unemployment.  Investment and development of the economy is the engine that will bring peace to the region.

Please come to the March General Meeting and vote NO on holding the BDS referendum.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Blue Badge of Pro-Coop

This attractive logo can be printed on a mailing label (or paper) and worn at the Coop.

I wore mine last night, and I got a lot of positive feedback.

Devorah wrote to me about her experience:

"I actually copied the color logo 6 times on a page and went to the color printing shop, printed out 2 copies, cut them out and took safety pins along.

I had a doctor's appointment 2 blocs away from the coop and was 25 min early so I went to pick up some flyers down.

I gave out about 12, including one to my walker who happened to be Muslim. He read both sides while walking me and commented that he kind of is pro BDS but didn't understand how it would help the Palestinian people.  I pointed out to him that not one of their speeches or articles had any mention or suggestion on how to help them, only negativity, and he agreed; I am not so quickly thinking he will join our side, but...

A couple of people stopped me with questions and some asked me for badges in the coop and put them right on with the safety pins. Then as I was standing in front of the doctor's office and forgot to remove my badge, another woman came over and asked me if I had an extra one for her daughter who is a member. Let's hope for the best!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When is anti-Zionism anti-Semitism?

Hannah Rosenthal, U.S. State Department Special Envoy:  It's anti-Semitism when you say Israel doesn't have a right to exist.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Referendum on BDS is Neither Democratic nor Cooperative

On March 27, we will vote on conducting a referendum to join the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions of Israel Movement (BDS)

Previous referenda have dealt directly with the operation of the store.  This proposed referendum would have the Coop membership vote to endorse a political position.  Voting in favor of holding the referendum means agreeing to grant a simple majority the right to speak in the name of every Coop member, regardless of our range of opinions.  This is not “the best way to respect the feelings of all members.”  People did not join the Coop to have their politics decided for them. 

If the Coop were to endorse any political position by majority vote rather than by reaching a consensus, the minority would be disenfranchised.  Members with strong opinions would be forced to choose between their Coop membership and identification with the cause.

The BDSers seek to bypass the consensus building mechanism of the General Meeting process.  They claim a “referendum allows adequate time for individual research and reflection” and “protects individual privacy.”  No amount of privacy, individual research and reflection can inform you about how approval of the referendum will affect the membership and the general well-being of the Park Slope Food Coop.  You can only learn that at the General Meeting.

The BDSers want to further undermine the Coop’s democratic process by suggesting that this boycott should not be subject to annual review, according to the Coop’s rules.  Rather, we are to hand over the decision making for maintaining the boycott to an outside group, the BDS Movement, which has no stake or interest in the Coop’s success.

Democracies are based on the polity working together for the collective good, while respecting the rights and sensibilities of all its members. Democracies are more than just decisions making through voting.  This referendum fails the democracy test.

All quotes are from the Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS Website.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Vote for the Coop. Vote NO to BDS.

In the current issue of Linewaiters' Gazette, (p.5) Joe Holtz, the Park Slope Food Coop's General Manager and one of its founders, appeals to the membership to reject the BDS referendum at the March 27 General Meeting.  Here are some excerpts (emphasis is mine), but of course you should read the whole thing.

This is a big blow to the BDS group at the Coop.  Joe really deserves our recognition and our thanks for endorsing opposition to the boycott.  Please leave him a note in my comments section.  Show him support.  (You don't have to register to comment.)

Voting “COOP” means voting NO on the proposed Israel/BDS referendum at the March General Meeting, regardless of your opinion on the extremely troubling situation in the Mideast.

Please attend the March 27 meeting at Brooklyn Tech High School and stand with me and others who have the third side of this issue in mind despite the idea held by many that this is a two-sided issue. We need to have passion for what the Coop has accomplished and passion to protect our survival as a thriving community of people from widely diverse backgrounds coming here to work together.
Please don’t be convinced by arguments that referendums are a higher form of democracy. Our open and transparent meeting process, the Coop’s form of democracy, is central to the sustainability of our precious Coop. By voting against the referendum we can make it clear that the Coop is not in favor of seriously supporting an issue on which we are very divided. But if we approve holding a referendum we will be sending a message to the membership and the world that we want to be involved in divisive issues. We know joining BDS is divisive and can only harm both the perception of the Coop and the future of the Coop. We don’t need a referendum to figure that out.
As one of the founders of our Coop, I can tell you that the group of our founders did not have uniformity around politics. But we had uniformity in our belief that there was too little cooperation in the world. We were determined to start this Coop because we believed in the beauty and the power of people working together for the collective good.
The Coop in its usual operative mode does not take a position. We do not measure members on their adherence to any political position. There is no litmus test here for members other than whether the member is cooperating by fulfilling her membership responsibilities. We are open and welcoming to all who practice cooperation. Anyone who thinks we can start being unwelcoming to those of our members who hold fairly widely held views and still maintain sustainability as an organization is sadly mistaken. In the last years it has become clear from reading our Gazette that the March 27 proposal, if passed, will leave a large portion of members feeling unwelcomed and alienated from what has been their Coop.

Through all these years I have never for a moment thought that a vast swath of the members should be made to feel that being an owner of the Coop was a challenge to their sense of well being or justice or fairness because of a political position the Coop has taken.
...the Coop has never really taken a position on any boycott that was at all controversial. ... We have held our Coop community together by only taking positions on boycotts that had overwhelmingly wide support. This current proposal to join BDS does not have similar Coopwide support.  Please recognize this and act to protect the Coop by voting NO, regardless of your opinion on the troubling situation in the Middle East.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Now that I know the Meditalia products line exists, I had to go and try some. Yesterday I purchased the Black Olive Tapenade at the Park Slope Food Coop. It is very amazing. Really, really good. I'm looking forward to trying the rest of the product line.

Go out and buy some. Especially on March 30 - the next Buy Israeli Goods day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A True Peace Builder

Daniel Lubetzky describes himself as a serial social entrepreneur known for integrating social objectives with sustainable market-driven forces into new business models.

In English for the rest of us, it means he develops and invests in businesses that not only are profitable but also serve a greater good.  As a senior, at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, Mr. Lubetzky wrote his 268-page thesis, “The Influence of Economic Factors in Resolving the Arab-Israeli Conflict.”  He later established his company PeaceWorks.
PeaceWorks Holdings LLC has been a business that pursues both profit and peace. We pursue profit through our sales of healthful food products that are produced by neighbors on opposing sides of political or armed conflicts, whose cooperative business ventures we facilitate. We pursue peace through the support of our PeaceWorks Foundation and the One Voice Movement. We donate 5 percent of all profits to empower the moderates in the Middle East who want a peaceful end to the war through a two-state solution.

PeaceWorks imports creative healthy foods that use only the freshest ingredients. The result is delicious, all-natural products. PeaceWorks currently does business with Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Turks, Indonesians, Sri Lankans and Australians.
The complete opposite of boycott activity.  PeaceWorks' flagship line Meditalia is sold at the Park Slope Food Coop.  Daniel Lubetzky weighs in with his thoughts on the BDS Movement:
PeaceWorks’ products, [are] made through cooperative ventures among neighbors striving to coexist, including Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Turks, and until recently, Egyptians. As the founder of PeaceWorks and the OneVoice Movement, I have noticed not just the silliness of those extremist efforts by BDS, but more so, the negative impact these fights have on the very Palestinian farmers these people purport to support. Never mind that Palestinian farmers have never heard of these BDS people, who out of the comfort of their armchairs in Berkeley, can afford to advocate extremist positions. What has happened over the last few years is that anti-Israel activists have begotten anti-Palestinian activists and both of these negative groups, rather than thinking how to strengthen moderates seeking peace on both sides and join forces to achieve a solution, have instead attacked one another publicly and sought to boycott each other’s products at grocery stores across the USA.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Would You Do With $4,000?

$4,000 is a pretty nifty chunk of cash for most people.

It could be a really nice vacation.  A decent used car.  Rent money.  A semester at CUNY with change to spare.

For a $45,000,000 business like the Park Slope Food Coop, it's pocket change.

It could be a nice donation to CHIPS.  It could be 25% of the new Coop start-up loan fund.  It could be a silent alarm system at the front desk for the entrance worker to discretely notify the office if someone is stuffing merchandise into the front lockers.  That might take a bite out of the $250,000 annual loss to theft.

$4,000 are the expenses associated with holding our meeting to vote on the vote at the Brooklyn Technical High School auditorium.  After all, BDS is so very important to the Coop and our joining it will be so beneficial  it is worth every penny - NOT.

I want to get my $4,000 worth.  Please come out and vote NO.  I want to clean their clock.

The Tweeter at the February GM

Last night's general meeting was tweeted by Reuters Opinion senior editor Chadwick Matlin.  What a hoot!  I nearly choked on my granola.

I like anyone who can make me laugh.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Lightening Rod

Glenn Beck has chimed in on the upcoming "vote on the vote" as it is getting called.  This has brought the attention of Huffington Post, among others.  According to the original reporting in the Brooklyn Paper:
“What is happening with the food co-op where they are seriously considering a boycott of Israel?” he said, likening the suggested ban to a subtle version of drawing swastikas. “When you use words like ‘I’m just anti-Israel’ or ‘I’m just anti-Zionist’ — that’s anti-Semitic.”
In blogosphere language this has been turned into Beck calling the Park Slope Food Coop, itself, anti-Semitic.  From there writers are calling ALL the Coop members anti-Semitic for the activity of just SOME.

I discussed BDS and anti-Semitism a while ago.  For BDS to be considered not anti-Semitic, 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.
I would now have to add to that list, they would not bring the author of a vicious Jew hating book to speak at the Coop.

The denial of my fellow Coop members is meaningless.  The BDS movement is anti-Semitic.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marching Orders from Divest This!

Our good friend at Divest This! has been part of more anti-BDS campaigns than you can count. He has documented the numerous failures and the unrestrained hubris of the movement for years. We are grateful for this pep talk from an experienced veteran. The whole thing is great, but here are two of my favorite parts.
Now keep in mind that this vote is not taking place because local BDSers convinced anyone of anything. Rather, they pushed for an Israel boycott referenda (similar to failed boycott appeals at places like Davis and Sacramento California), and when told that such a referenda would sicken and appall huge numbers of members they said, in effect, “So what?” And since the rules of most co-ops are rather loose, presuming as they do that members will act in good faith and not try to manipulate the organization for their own ends (at the expense of other members), the only way to close out a matter the BDSers will continue to push (regardless of the cost to others) was to let a vote on the referenda go forward.
And this:
Needless to say, attempts to prick the conscience of the BDSers over issues such as terrorist murders of Israelis or Arab deaths at the hands of Hamas or Assad will fall on deaf ears since the BDSers are indifferent to Israeli life and even Palestinian lives are only measured in terms of their usefulness to “the movement”. But arguments directed over the boycotters heads to the general membership can be as effective in Park Slope as they have been everywhere else.

And that message is: why the hell should a group of single-issue partisans be allowed to speak on behalf of the thousands of members of an institution that BDS had no role in building? After all, the boycotters are free as individuals to not buy all the Israeli products they like. And they’re even free to start their own co-op and build into its charter the refusal to ever let an Israeli orange or seltzer dispenser stain their shelves.

Ah, but that’s not what they want, is it? They want to be able to claim that their minority opinion represents the will of thousands of members of a respected organization, and thus give their propaganda message unearned weight.
Go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Busy Day

The day began with an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on the upcoming vote at the General Meeting.  The news is spreading through the blogosphere and reporters are contacting me.  By afternoon I received an email from Metro asking for 150 words on why to oppose BDS.  Here is what I submitted:

The BDS movement does nothing to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or improve the lives of Palestinians.  Peace will come through a negotiated settlement between the 2 parties that will include mutual recognition of rights and national aspirations.  The BDS leadership works against peace by rejecting all cooperative endeavors between Israelis and Palestinians.  By placing all blame on one party only, and by ignoring context, the BDS movement serves to bolster the most rejectionist elements of the Palestinian cause.

The 3 demands of BDS are based on a faulty understanding of the relevant international law.  The real goal of BDS is to end the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.  Thus, BDS has been rejected over and over by every institution where it has tried to get an honest endorsement.  BDS looks forward to yet another stunning defeat at the Park Slope Food Coop.