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.