Is the Potential Boycott of all Israeli Products from the Coop Anti-Semitic?

Patch wants to know what our readers think about the hot topic that is burning over at the Park Slope Food Coop.

Patch wants to know what you think about the upcoming discussion, debate and referendum vote to ban or not to ban Israeli products at the  by determining their participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement

The statement of the coop's BDS group, which has no official connection to the coop itself, says they want to ban Israeli products at the Coop, like the Sodastream seltzer maker and replacement cartridges, organic paprika, Israeli couscous, olive pesto, vegan marshmallows and organic yellow peppers, because of “Israel’s violation of international law and human rights,” the group's website says.

, Senior Rabbi at on Eighth Avenue, wrote a blog post for Patch, entitled “,” outlining his thoughts on the potential ban on Israeli products.

Rabbi Bachman broke down why be opposes the ban with three points:

  • One, it singles out Israel at the exclusion of an equal accounting of Palestinians and other Arab states for their own abuses and contributions to this conflict.  
  • Two, it is clear to us that the long-term goal of the BDS movement is to delegitimize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. 
  • Three, a PSFC boycott of Israel will greatly divide the delicate fabric of a community institution with as diverse a membership as any democratic community organization in the United States. 

Joseph Holtz, the General Manager and a founder of the Park Slope Food Coop, wrote his opinion, which is against a boycott of Israeli products, in the Coop’s newsletter, The Linewaiter’s Gazette.

"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," Holtz wrote.

The Coop's BDS group believes that if they carry Israeli goods, “Without making an explicit decision to do so is, in essence, voting in support of Israel’s actions—without actually taking a vote from membership,” the group writes. Therefore they feel that the “best way to respect the feelings” of all its members, “is to take a real vote, assuring that the Coop’s actions align with the wishes of the majority of members.” 

But some people think the ban is a form of bigotry. One commenter on Bachman’s blog post said that he believes the potential ban is “Anti-Semitic.”

The :

“The people behind this are well educated bigots and haters.... This is not a debate to them. They are taking action and we should as well...members who do not agree with the bigots among them need to either purge the Coop of that element or share the label themselves as co-conspirators. If the anti-Semites win and gain control of the Coop we need to boycott and run them out of business.”

The commenter wrote that he does not have a problem with people who do not agree with Israeli politics and voice their opinions, but he does have a problem “Once they step over the line and take actions against Israel in support of the Palestinian ‘plight’ (…I am referring to the accusation that it is all a part of an Israeli apartheid system) they are ‘stepping out’ as terrorist supporters.”

Now, what do you think? Is the Park Slope Food Coop’s potential ban, which will claim solidarity to the BDS movement and boycott all Israeli products, anti-Semitic? Please vote in the poll below and let us know what you think in the comments. 


Correction: Patch incorrectly stated that Joseph Holtz, a founder and general manager of the Coop, supported the boycott in its original version. The article has been updated and Patch regrets the error.  

Crusty March 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Why is killing 13 Israelis terrorism while killing 1,300 Gazans understandable? Just because the bombs that rain down over people's heads were bought with tax dollars doesn't make them any less lethal.
jgor March 21, 2012 at 06:33 PM
I have to agree with Michael on this one. I would NEVER join the food coop because this is the kind of crap that they are about. If you join there thinking it is a great place to get cheap groceries without taking into account their radical left politics that is your own fault. Yes, they are just like the religous right pushing a radical agenda. In this case, they are pushing it down their own throats.
Corey March 21, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Great reasons never to even consider going to either of those idiotic institutions. Anyone with half a brain will opt for a place that doesn't swallow up the bull#@%& propaganda spewed out by the anti-Israel racists.
Corey March 21, 2012 at 11:21 PM
I'm not sure if anyone else will get down this far into the string, but for those who do I have to say how sick it's made me reading the comments of this bunch of idiots like Mitchel Cohen & Aaron Leavitt and the other who vehemently rail against Israel as a demon persecuting the Palestinians and refusing to allow them to return to their lands. ARE YOU FOR REAL?!! I pity you your naivete as you gobble up the Palestinian propaganda. Occupiers? Israel pulled out of Gaza, and what did they get -- Terrorists on their borders shooting rockets across. Learn your history - idiots. The partitioning of Palestine allotted 15% for a Jewish state and 85% of the territory for the arabs -- it was called Transjordan (now Jordan). The persistence of a refugee population is done solely for political purposes. These are people who were not "driven" away but left with the expectation of returning after the Jews were driven into the sea. Well, it didn't turn out that way. And now they should have the right to return? Three generations later?
Corey March 21, 2012 at 11:35 PM
I especially like the story about the young Jewish settler who picked up a rock to throw at the Palestinian, and how his young soul has been poisoned. Maybe it has something to do with the terrorists who have sneaked into settlements and slaughtered families, including little children, or who have blown up buses of innocent people in Israel proper. Funny Mr. Leavitt, you don't mention how Palestinian schools teach their children that it's OK to kill Jews. (This has been documented by numerous objective organizations.) I'm sure that doesn't poison any young souls! The fact is, you and your cohorts have some deep seated hatred of your Judaism, and I feel sorry for you for that. And you've deluded yourselves into thinking that this morally-bereft society that hides its terrorists and calls them "freedom fighters," that straps bombs to their children so they can go blow themselves up, that celebrates the deaths of innocent civilians (including, you may recall, the civilians in the twin towers here on 9/11), somehow deserves the world's pity. So you've all come together to engage in mass Israel-bashing. And you justify it with comments about violations of UN resolutions (we all know what a just organization that is! Ever take a look at the make-up of their Human Rights organization? It's common knowledge that the UN is Israel-bashing-Central.) I know you're upset that the US sends money to Israel. We pay for lots of things (like the UN) that I can't stand, too. Get over it!
Corey March 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM
All I can say is that I have not shopped at your coop, and I now know that I never will. I wouldn't want to be associated with the band of imbeciles that have convened there. I feel sorry for all of the other liberal members whose comments I've read who bask in supporting legitimate causes and have unfortunately wasted their time trying to convince you to abandon your mean-spirited anti-semitic efforts. I'm sure their time and efforts have been wasted. I knew someone like you in college - a jew who resented his jewishness and reacted by seeking out any anti-Jewish or anti-Israel cause he could find. I can only say that I pray for you and your cohorts to someday see the light and support efforts to find true peace in the middle east by insisting that the arabs be willing to make some concessions. (Isn't negotiation about both sides making concessions? I've never heard of a SINGLE concession offered by the Palestinians.) With that, I'm done. Heaven help you all.
nyc March 22, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Corey - you are absolutely right.
Mitchel Cohen March 22, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Really, you think Corey is right .... To call those who disagree with her (or him) "inbeciles,"idiots," "demons", "deep-seated hatred for your Judaism," and somehow mixes in the attacks on the twin towers, "mean-spirited anti-semitic", a "jew who resents his jewishness," "anti-Jewish", etc. -- that's your idea of a reasoned debate? I'm tempted to answer in kind, but I won't; we're having an important discussion here, and everyone can see for themselves how some defenders of Israel's policies choose to disparage those who don't agree with them. At any rate, such calumy is inappropriate for this list. Freedom of speech? By all means. Mocking, psychoanalyzing, personally disparaging those you disagree with? Shame!
Carrie March 22, 2012 at 06:34 AM
I also agree with Corey
Carrie March 22, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Also, what's up with the inflammatory headline? The boycott isn't anti-Semitic, it's just extremely ridiculous. With so much warring (USA anyone?) and massacring going on in this world, the co-op is focusing on Israel?? How pathetic to focus on such low hanging fruit. Seems some people can be easily brainwashed these days into fighting against their own belief system and siding with people that are anything BUT progressive. I bet BDS supporters have no idea that one of the founders and leaders of Israeli boycotts, Omar Barghouti, is getting his masters at...Tel Aviv University. So much for that Israeli boycott.
Crusty March 22, 2012 at 09:55 AM
I have never heard a real definition of a 'Jewish state' and I don't think it's an inherently bad idea. Great British has an official religion (Church of England), has granted citizenship citizens of its old colonies, overwhelmingly neither British nor C of E, and yet has retained something ineffably British. Saudi Arabia also has an official religion and only one ethnicity. There's a spectrum of church/ethnic oriented states, some obviously more palatable than others. I would venture to say that most of the boycott's critics are afraid of being somehow overrun with Palestinian refugees should they be permitted back to Israeli land. I have never heard any vision of what 'Jewish state' really means.
joe mills March 22, 2012 at 02:39 PM
They just dont like the jews they are left wing liberals an pro iran just like obama.. i dont see any jewish people straping bombs to themselfs or kill arab school kids an you know if they did the left wing media would be talking about all day like msnbc cbs nbc the view the jews have a country the size of ny and everyone around them want to kill them why dose obama side with the arab spring an iran ?? obama wants boycotts like this to happen to turn people against the jews.. the jews are our only friends over there an we are turning our backs on them blaming them for everything the wall st protesters blamed the jews too.. im not jewish i dont care what they do there not killing our troops there goal is not to make everyone jewish.. but the muslums are its called the third jihad youtube it
Lauren Thompson March 22, 2012 at 09:52 PM
You hit the nail on the head. When traffic is slow, post a story about the bike lane, or the Food Coop, or stroller-jams on 7th Ave. The Patch seems to be more about muckraking than community-building. Lauren T
Corey March 22, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Thank you to both nyc and Carrie for expressing agreement and support. I had no illusions that I would be able to enlighten the hatemongers who are leading this thread and the boycott effort, but I did want those of you out there with a less-jaded view of what's going on in the middle east to know that there are people out there with a true sense of right vs. wrong and good vs. evil. Just because some within your midst are so self-hating that they can't distinguish between terrorists and those who want to live in peace, it doesn't mean that everyone is like that. More power to you, and continue to pray with me that these souls might some day wake up to reality (or at least go crawl under a rock and stop impeding the efforts of peace by showing the terrorists they have support despite their acts of savagery).
Crusty March 22, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Suppose for a minute you happened to have a casual conversation with a Palestinian woman whose 13 year old son was incarcerated by the Israelis without charge. Such things are not uncommon. Suppose this woman was speaking to you of her fear and anxiety for her son. Would you soothe her by saying that it could be worse, he could be in the Central African Republic? Israel doesn't have to be the worst, but it certainly is bad enough.
ethicalUpstart March 24, 2012 at 09:28 PM
This is the heart of the Zionist argument: jews have suffered as a group in the past, and that permits their actions in Israel. I read elsewhere that God gave this land to the jewish people, but it doesn't matter: neither argument holds water in court, so it seems like the height of passive-aggressiveness and group delusion for american jews in brooklyn to imagine that they will be able to stop the process of deligitimization that has already taken place. It only now a matter of time before international jurisprudence will take its course and the world's militaries will join together to forcibly dismantle the Jewish state before they are able to implement the Samson dooms-day machine.
ethicalUpstart March 24, 2012 at 09:34 PM
you seem to have lost the thread of your argument. I want to know if you think your litany of the wrong perpetrated on people of the jewish religion justifies land seizure in the Middle East. I would also suggest you consider that many, many millions of people died in WW2, jews are just a small percent of them. Your assumption that jewish pain is worth more is odious, and you and your fellow kvetchers need to become silent before something really, really bad happens...
ethicalUpstart March 24, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Marvin, The horrifying thing about your post is that you start off by admitting Israel's crimes, but then you list the usual irrelevant, obviously insincere justifications and finish with the worst argument of all, that Israel is in the category of sudan and syria in criminality, and the US is not attacking those places....not a good analogy. How do you go from there to saying that that Israel is the victim of venomous anti-semitism, which it clearly is not. This kind of logical leap causes dangerous cognitive dissonance, and I think this is starting to set in with the pro-israel crowd in prosperous, far-removed places like Park Slope. It's hard to know now, however, how the world will manage to pick up the pieces and carry on now. Is this all worth it to preserve the Jewish character of Israel? Who cares about which group of zealots has access to an archeological site in Jerusalem. Marvin: think about it, do you really want to be responsible for giving political cover to a group that has caused so much hatred and pain in the world since its inception? go back and read what you have said and please reconsider your position, which is the most dangerous one of all: it's one thing to be an obvious lunatic and talk about Israel's fulfillment of bible prophesy, and that's why we have to support it, but to try to make the other argument, that this is a legitimate regime that has acted honorably, is unsupportable.
nyc March 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
There are none so blind as those who refuse to see - this disproportionate attack on Jews is text book antisemitism, and the co-op will rue the legacy of this "debate" and be stained with it for time to come.
Bar March 25, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Regarding Aaron: "There are a number of reasons for boycotting Israel and not boycotting other countries in the region that have nothing to do with anti-Jewish prejudice." Nope. "Israel is the 'Holy Land', and (for better or worse) lots of people care disproportionately about what goes on there." Only when Jews govern it. "Many Europeans (and some Americans) have strong commitments to 'anti-imperialist' or 'anti-colonialist' ethics, and view Israel as the last bastion of European/white (i.e., Ashkenazi) colonialism of non-European people of color." No -- some Europeans are anti-semites, just like members of the Park Slope Coop. "A consumer boycott is a viable tactic precisely because Israel *is* a democracy." You are obviously anti-capitalist and anti-democracy to tunnel your protest to Israel. But it's fun to protest Israel -- you can visit and your rants are fully protected. Go protest in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and see what happens. "U.S. consumers buy a lot of Israeli products." They buy more oil, which is the only product in the middle east outside of the successful, democratic, free market and besieged Jewish state. "5) The U.S. is subsidizing Israel actions against the Palestinians to the tune of several billion $/year; it's our biggest recipient of foreign aid" Um, no, Afghanistan. Let's not forget Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states which are subsidized by our military presence, 100's of Billions / yr.
Crusty March 25, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Israel has received $115 billion since the end of WWII. No other country has received that much aid. None. Israel has no intention of abiding by the rules that govern other countries, and anyone who points that out is said to be anti-Semitic.
Aaron Levitt March 26, 2012 at 03:31 PM
You're at least partially correct about U.S. foreign aid. My information was out of date; thank you for the correction. According to the USAID site, the top recipients of total aid in 2010 were Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel, in that order*. None of the Gulf states were in the top 10, however, including Saudi Arabia. Israel is "subsidized" as much or more by our Gulf presence, and it's not aid in any case. (*http://gbk.eads.usaidallnet.gov/data/fast-facts.html) The claim that people only care about the Holy Land when Jews govern it is almost too absurd to warrant a response. See the Crusades for a really obvious example. When I write about BDS activists with 'anti-imperialist' or 'anti-colonialist' motivations, it's based on actually knowing and working with such activists for a number of years. I'm personally pro-capitalist and pro-democracy, although they're separate issues, and I'm not sure how relevant Capitalism is to this discussion. At any rate, I was making a tactical point, not a value judgment. As for the freedom to protest, it is generally well-protected inside Israel, but non-violent protestors in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are subjected to constant harassment, assault, arrest, imprisonment, etc. As I wrote in an earlier post, many Israeli goods are relatively easy for consumers to identify and substitute goods are readily available. This is not the case for Saudi oil, although, in principle, I would certainly be sympathetic to a boycott.
Corey March 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Crusty - Do you truly believe that Israel goes around seeking to incarcerate 13-year-old boys for no reason? You say "Such things are not uncommon." And you know this because ... ? You've clearly bought -- hook, line, & sinker -- the propaganda of the Palestinian PR machine. Before you make your arguments, you should do better research, and use your common sense. Israel gains nothing by rounding up people to fill their jails. On the other hand, they're more than willing and able to incarcerate those who perpetrate attacks on their people. Perhaps if this mythical woman you refer to in your post (and her fellow Palestinian citizens, too) spent more of her time teaching her son about love and peace, rather than teaching him to hate and to shoot weapons and to lionize terrorists who kill innocent people, he might be home with her instead of sitting in an Israeli jail.
Bar March 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM
So you go on to support the world's most oppressive countries as you try to undermine Israel, which offers more opportunities for its Arab citizens than any other ME country does for theirs. Needless to say there are hostilities on both sides of this dispute. The argument from the BDS folk is quite clever. The Jewish refugees came the 99% of the middle east that is not Israel, and has sought refuge in the 1% that is Israel. And the BDS has been successful at framing the conflict in the small portion that is Israel/Palestine so they can say that the Jews control of 80%. Now that's a lesson in how one does propaganda. And exactly what is the problem with Jews living in the West Bank? Why should their not be Palestinian Jews, living in a Palestinian state, just as there are Israeli Arabs? How is it that the West Bank should be cleansed of Jews as most of the other 99% was? I frequently ask for products from the West Bank when I shop in stores carrying Israeli Products. That's one way to stick it to the BDS quislings.
Aaron Levitt March 27, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Bar, I absolutely do not "support the world's most oppressive countries," and I've written nothing to suggest that I do. And I'm not trying to undermine Israel; quite the opposite, although I don't know how to help you see that. Jewish refugees didn't come from "99% of the middle east" (a silly assertion, since Jews didn't even live everywhere in the Middle East); many Jewish refugees came from outside the middle east; and many emigrants to Israel were not refugees, all of which I suspect you know quite well. It's a shame you resort to such a distortion, since it merely undermines your credibility (and compromises your integrity) without adding anything to your argument. If you (or anyone else reading this post) actually care about Middle Eastern Jews beyond their propaganda value, I recommend Michael Fishbach's excellent book, "Jewish Property Claims against Arab Countries," as a highly-regarded source on the Zionist period. There isn't anything like enough space to do the topic justice here.
Aaron Levitt March 27, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I don't think there's anything wrong with Jews living in the West Bank; in fact I consider it highly desirable. {The Samaritans have lived there for many years, BTW, and though modern Judaism may consider them beyond the pale, Palestinians I've talked to in and around Nablus just think of them as Jews.} The problems lie elsewhere. First is the set of absolute injustices: Israeli settlers and/or soldiers forcibly displacing Palestinians from their lands, destroying Palestinian wells while digging their own, attacking Palestinians, burning their olive trees, destroying their property, etc. Ethnic cleansing, to give an ugly name to an ugly thing. Second, and arguably even more important, is the relative injustice of Jews without direct connections to land in the West Bank seizing those lands at gunpoint, while denying (also at gunpoint) all rights to Palestinians with documented personal and family claims inside of Israel. I don't like ethnic cleansing by Jews any more (or less) than I like ethnic cleansing of Jews, and I don't need to rely on propaganda or distortions because my sole agenda is justice and honor, which can only be served by truth. My hope and prayer is to see the day when Palestinians driven and fled from Israel in 1948/1967 can return to their homes and lands, along with the small number of Jews driven or fled from the West Bank in 1948, and the much larger number driven or fled from their ancestral homes elsewhere in the Middle East.
Bar March 28, 2012 at 04:20 AM
If you compare Israel to the countries from which its jewish refugees fled, you will see that Israel comprises less than 1% of the land. The anti-Israel propaganda that states that Jews seized 80% of Arab land is a masterpiece. Your obsession with Israel indeed supports the most repressive countries. One of the reasons -- besides anti-semitism which remains paramount -- that liberals are drawn into this BDS morass is their fuming over the success of the free market economy in Israel. It's most prevalent among the tenured university professors who understand nothing about capitalism in their comfortable positions.
KarenV April 07, 2012 at 07:08 PM
The boycott would also hurt Palestinians, both those involved in the joint venture Tapenade and those employed in places like Soda King. The Palestinians would be put out of work, with nothing left in place to employ them. Soda King estimates that each Palestinian employed supports 10 family members. So who is being hurt?
Iranian Jewish June 02, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Instead of talking about Israel condemn the brutality of Syrian regime and have Russia and China boycott Syria and Bashar Asad.
Crusty June 02, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Do it all.


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