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.