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.