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.


  1. To the Park Slope Co-op: Learn a lesson from the Olympia Food Co-op, which boycotted Israeli goods 18 months ago. Our community continues to suffer because of this. It's not worth it. It's bad for everyone. Even Noam Chomsky and Norm Finkelstein say so. Watch and Listen:

    Here are the links:



  2. I want to express my sincere thanks to Joe Holtz for taking a stand with us on this contentious and vicious issue that COULD rip the COOP we love apart. Let's hope that does not happen and that we get the needed votes on March 27th to avoid the referendum on this issue.

  3. Joe Holtz. A voice of reason. Thank you for all you do for PSFC and for standing up to BDS.

  4. Thank you, Joe Holtz, for your article promoting unity and good-will within the Coop community. It is heartwarming to know that you, one of the founders of our Coop, holds such values so dear. This is what makes our Coop great; may we always be an example to the world how mutual respect, positive thinking, and desire for unity can override negative energies that may try to infiltrate our community.
    Mirele R.

  5. Dear Barb:
    Thank you for posting snippets of Joe's letter to the Gazette.
    I thank you Joe for writing such a thoughtful letter and explaining the true meaning of cooperation. I applaud you for putting one of my favorite institutions the Park Slope Food Coop above all else.

  6. Thank you Barbara and thank you Joe As a long time coop member your words and support are very meaningful. Everything you say is thoughtful and from the heart. I know your deep concern for the coop. I, too, feel this way. I believe that most members will understand the importance of voting NO against the referendum

  7. Barb and Joe, your work in protecting the Coop is the real democracy. A selfish self seeking agenda is not.

    With deep thanks,

    Rodger Parsons

  8. Constantine KaniklidisMarch 11, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Joe and I don't always agree, but reasonable people can differ reasonably, yet I have no reservation concerning the sincerity of his commitment to an equitable stewardship of the Coop, for which I suspect there are often few thanks forthcoming from any party, and he has manifested that in his eloquent and courageous plea for sustaining the fundamental inclusiveness of the Coop.

  9. kudos to Joe Holtz for being willing to stand up to the voices of hatred and bigotry within us, for taking a large and generous view of the greater good and well-being of our coop community as well as its individual members...may he be a shining example to all of us and inspire others to follow in his footsteps

  10. I've been watching this unfold from the very beginning and I am impressed with Barbara's constant perseverance as well as Mr. Holtz's letter and his sentiment.

    There is a time and place for political debate, and a time and place for community cooperation. The Coop has a great opportunity to send a message to a wide audience demonstrating that a community is not necessarily a homogeneous entity, but rather a place where people can come together for a common cause without inserting a divisive political agenda.

    May you all continue to go from strength to strength...with maybe a little stop over at the Daily Show for good measure.

    With best regards from the tundra!

  11. If you want to help Palestinians, help them build Ramallah and other cities that will bring them closer to peace. BDS is stupid. It fosters hate instead of peace.
    Sign on for Shimon Peres' initiative on facebook!

  12. Thank G-d for someone like Joe Holtz - for understanding the damage BDS is CAUSING the Coop (already) and for having the courage to publicly express in a cogent way his misgivings.

    Thank you Joe!

  13. Thank You, Joe for having the wisdom and the vision in exposing how destructive the BDS folly would ultimately be.

  14. Many thanks to you, Joe, for your compelling and eloquent statement. Your strong stand means a lot to many of us.

    Ruth Bolletino

  15. Thanks to Mr.Holtz for bringing sanity to this issue.

    The power of goodness and freedom must prevail.

    PLEASE come and vote NO! on the referendum idea.

    The BDS movement is about hatred and divisiveness. Don't be a partner to this.


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