Thursday, May 23, 2013

10 Features of Left Anti-Semitism

If you do any kind of Israel advocacy reading on the internet, you will eventually stumble upon the remarkable efforts of Adam Levick and others at CiF Watch.  CiF refers to "Comment is Free," the website of the British leftist newspaper The Guardian. If you think the things that were written in the Park Slope Food Coop were bad, they are nothing compared to what is regularly said in the United Kingdoms.

One of the most frustrating things about opposing BDS is that the people who support it see themselves as progressives.  If you point out that their position is inherently anti-Semitic, they deny anti-Semitism saying "criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic" and accuse you of trying to stifle debate.  They truly don't see themselves as anti-Semitic and actually get quite irritated when you suggest anti-Semitism.

Even though the U.S. State Department has a definition of anti-Semitism, the editors of the Linewaiters' Gazette - the biweekly newspaper of the Park Slope Food Coop - seem to be unable to make the distinction, and recognize when their own editorial guidelines have been crossed. But it is hard to fault them.  It is a volunteer job and they shouldn't be expected to be experts on the Middle East.

Fortunately, for the sake of anyone who doesn't want to be anti-Semitic, Adam Levick has created this handy guide of 10 common pseudo-progressive, hypocritical tropes that come from the left when discussing Israel.  Here is his list, and I can illustrate an instance of every single one of these from either letters in the Linewaiters Gazette, statements on the PSFC-BDS website or things said in the Coop.  Maybe I will even have the time to do it one day.
  1. You claim the mantle of human rights yet find yourself running interference for anti-Semitic world leaders and helping to spread the propaganda of Islamist extremists -  and even terrorist leaders who openly call for the murder of Jews.

  2. You claim to condemn racism at every opportunity yet are strangely silent or seriously downplay even the most egregious examples of antisemitic violence.

  3. You claim to be a champion of progressive politics yet often use terms and advance tropes indistinguishable from classic right wing Judeophobia - such as the argument that Jews are too powerful, use their money to control politics, and are not loyal citizens.

  4. You support nationalism, and don’t have a problem with the existence of more than 50 Muslim states, yet you oppose the existence of the only Jewish state in the world.

  5. Even when putatively condemning antisemitism you can’t help but blame the Jews for causing antisemitism.

  6. You condemn the Holocaust yet also obsessively condemn living Jews for their alleged ‘inhumanity’ and even argue that Jews haven’t learned the proper lessons from the attempt to annihilate their co-religionists from the planet.

  7. You not only support Palestinian rights, but support their “right” to launch deadly terrorist attacks on Israeli Jews, under the mantle of anti-imperialist ”resistance”.

  8. You characterize extremist reactionary Islamist movements as “progressive“.

  9. You accuse Jews of cynically misusing the charge of antisemitism to “ stifledebate about the Jewish state.

  10. You champion diversity and multiculturalism of all kinds, yet suggest that Jewish particularism represents an inherently tribal, ethnocentric and racist  identity.

You should read the original article and comments  at the CiF Watch blog.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Does Food Coop Membership Determine Your Politics?

Sometimes they say "The Food Coop is inherently political."  Sometimes they say "Food is inherently political."  They will say it as a justification for promoting and seeking Coop endorsement of a particular cause.

But is such a statement true? Indeed, does it even have any meaning?

The definition of inherent: "Existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute."

The definition of political: "Of or relating to the ideas or strategies of a particular party or group in politics. Having or influenced by partisan interests."

Can food have a partisan interest?  No.  Food is an essential human need.

How about the Food Coop?  Well, it might have a partisan interest regarding things directly related to its operation, such as the traffic on Union Street.  But is a diverse Coop membership not entitled to a diversity of views and allegiances?  If the Coop is "political," then exactly which politics must it support?

The Park Slope Food Coop makes high quality food available at lower prices to anyone who is willing to put in about 30 hours of a labor a year.  It also strives to purchase from local farmers and producers.   And it tries to use and encourage the use of the most environmentally friendly practices.

But here comes the jump in logic.  Because the Food Coop does all these things, is it also obligated to lend support to any cause that a member claims is consistent with the Coop's mission?  The promoters of various causes would say "yes."

Later today, Sunday, the Food Coop is hosting an event titled "You and Your Food" described as:
The Coop is a great place for delicious, inexpensive food, and it’s also where we can talk about the politics behind what we eat. Food sovereignty, environmental racism, water supply threats, labor struggles, urban agriculture initiatives, geopolitical issues, international solidarity—these forces are inevitably mixed into what we put on our plates. What are our opportunities and responsibilities as New Yorkers, as consumers, and as Coop members? Come participate in a lively and diverse discussion.
Are they to tell us we have responsibilities beyond our monthly work contribution to support their particular causes because we are Coop members and they say so?

There are differences between an interest, a privilege, a right and an obligation.  Anyone can have an interest in using the Coop to promote a particular cause.  However, it is a privilege, not a right to do so. The Coop is not obligated to provide its support.  It is not even obligated to provide a platform.  And certainly the membership is not obligated to agree.

Should the Coop allow the promotion of any cause by any member?  Or should it have some criteria before allowing the use of its facilities?

Tonight's program will include an anti-fracking advocate, a labor advocate, an urban farming advocate  and a sustainable food advocate.  They will be sharing the panel with one of the Coop's BDS activists.  The wording of the program implies the mutual endorsements of all parties.

BDS is not pro-peace.   BDS is a racist movement that denies self-determination to the Jewish people.  BDS provides support and coverage to terrorists.  BDS is hypocritical in its very essence, selectively ignoring human rights issues.  BDS does nothing for the well-being of Palestinians.  BDS is not a progressive cause.  Association with BDS undermines credibility.

Once again, BDS in their own words.

Friday, May 3, 2013

How BDS Continues to Harm the Park Slope Food Coop and Our Community

I admit I understand very little about the economics of the health care system.

Long Island College Hospital (LICH)  loses a lot of money and is being considered for closing.  According to the May 3 New York Times City Room blog:
LICH is run by SUNY Downstate Medical Center, part of the State University of New York, which has said the hospital is losing so much money it is threatening the rest of the medical center. SUNY officials have also noted that many of the affluent residents of northern Brooklyn prefer to seek medical care in the more prestigious Manhattan hospitals, leaving LICH dependent on poorer patients whose government health insurance — if they have it — pays less than private insurance plans.
It seems to me that hospital is being used - just not used by the "right" people.  It also seems to me that a way should be found to save the hospital so that is can continue to serve Brooklyn.  Apparently, the Park Slope Food Coop has put its reputation behind supporting efforts to save the hospital, as the Times reports:  Park Slope Food Co-op Takes Up New Cause: Saving a Hospital. All that is good.

Now I would think a newspaper article should provide me with some relevant information so I could be informed about the issues regarding LICH.  Actually, I would have had to read down 4 paragraphs until I found the one above which describes the core issue of LICH's problems.

So just how did the Israel-obsessed New York Times open the post?
The Park Slope Food Co-op, which fought a veritable civil war over whether to boycott Israeli products, has taken on a new cause célèbre: the fight to save Long Island College Hospital.

"The Park Slope Food Co-op (spelled wrong by the Times) has joined the fight to save LICH," is the only  relevant informations that should be in the lede.  Instead, a worthy and serious cause is mocked as "a new cause célèbre."  The Coop - where only 650 out 16,000 members voted in favor of the Israel boycott referendum (which was soundly defeated by our efforts one year ago) -  is smeared as a bastion of support for the anti-Semitic, terrorist-sympathizing, Israel-eradicating BDS movement.  The Times manages to link supporting LICH and the Coop with supporting BDS.  Way to go.

If you want to be taken seriously for your community actions, then carefully consider the bedfellows you keep.