Jewish Voice for Peace Statement Regarding Olympia Food Co-op Boycott

Jewish Voice for Peace Statement Regarding the Olympia Food Co-Op Boycott of Israeli Goods

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) condemns the attacks against the recent decision by the Olympia Food Co-Op to boycott Israeli goods. We reject the assertion that Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) are inherently anti-Semitic, and we encourage discussion both within our own community and outside of it of the growing BDS movement.

We defend the right of the Olympia Food Co-Op to use the full range of BDS tactics without being persecuted or demonized. We consider BDS a nonviolent response to the daily violence embodied in the occupation. Those that are protesting the Olympia  Food Co-op for its decision to adopt BDS, should direct their energies to ending the injustices that stand as the root cause of BDS. We look forward to the day when the occupation will end and BDS will no longer be necessary.

The current co-op decision follows a long history of economic pressure campaigns used to press for and end of human rights violations, including the Indian boycott of British goods to protest British colonial rule, the Montgomery bus boycott to protest racial segregation, the grape boycott to protest farm workers' working conditions and low wages, and the South African boycott to protest the Apartheid regime.

The co-op itself has adopted a series of measure in the past, boycotting products from China (human rights abuses), Norway (whaling abuses), Colorado (anti-gay legislation), and more.

This boycott does not single out Israel. It singles out the injustices of the occupation. This boycott does not target Jews and is not anti-Semitic.

JVP's campaign work is focused on advocating for divestment from and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This includes companies operating in or from occupied Palestinian territory, exploiting Palestinian labor and scarce environmental resources, providing materials or labor for settlements, or producing military or other equipment or materials used to violate human rights or to profit from the Occupation.

Comments

This group's boycott activities

are focused on a narrower target, one which some people have said would be an improvement over the BDS statement that the Coop's currently endorsing.

From their website:

JVP's campaign work is focused on advocating for divestment from and boycotts of companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. This includes companies operating in or from occupied Palestinian territory, exploiting Palestinian labor and scarce environmental resources, providing materials or labor for settlements, or producing military or other equipment or materials used to violate human rights or to profit from the Occupation.

Best,
Thad

Best wishes,
Thad

 

Narrower Approach

This concept of a more limited boycott was brought up last night during the Q&A after Rabbi Lynn's presentation.

I like how the organizers of Olympia BDS answered this issue at their teach-in last Wednesday. What I heard from them was that while there is nothing wrong with a more targeted boycott, for purposes of effectiveness, solidarity with Palestinians, and because it is often purposefully made difficult to differentiate between products that come from illegal settlements in the West Bank and products that come from Israel proper (outside of the Green Line,) that it makes the most sense at this time-especially given the urgency of the human rights crisis-to support a blanket boycott.

This blanket boycott, for a number of reasons (including the attention it garners) may be the best approach to persuade Israel to change its policies- to retreat from Palestinian Territories, to respect the Green Line, in other words-to generally stop doing so much harm.


Peace is Possible!

Berd

What matters is moving towards greater

agreement among community members and that may include addopting a more narrowly focused boycott and list of demands.  It is not simply about someone's opinion about the best strategy.

Thad and Gugielemo, I will gladly support you if you start a nar

Thad and Gugielemo, I will gladly support you if you start a narrow campaign. What happens is that people suggest stuff and then, we discuss the "distraction" and forget the main issue at hand.

For example, on 17 April 2007 @ Oly- Rafah sister city project- one smoke-screen to halt the proceedings was An Israeli sister city?

Many opposing speakers suggested a relationship with an Israeli sister city to "balance" the Palestinian sister city relationship. Dan Cathers encouraged ORSCP "to work with many of the people that have already said tonight they would be willing to help find an appropriate Israeli city and form a trilateral sister city arrangement." What he failed to notice was that no one actually volunteered to work on forming an Israeli sister city. The closest thing to a volunteer was Evergreen and St. Martins faculty Sherri Shulman, who said she was "very willing to work on finding a compatible city in the West Bank or in Gaza as well as one in Israel," implying that she personally would not accept a sister city with Rafah, even in a trilateral relationship.

Although ORSCP has publicly stated that it would support an Israeli sister city and is willing to share information on establishing such a relationship, no one expressed a willingness to actually make it a reality. And since the Olympia City Council rejected the Rafah proposal, none of the proponents for an Israeli sister city have followed up or taken the initiative. This would indicate that the argument for an Israeli sister city was merely rhetorical, another tool used to indirectly reject the Rafah sister city proposal. Once it served its purpose, the tool was dropped. As long as no Israeli sister city is pursued, the Rafah sister city has no chance of receiving greater approval from the City Council, and the Rafah sister city project is completely at the mercy of its opponents.

Making an Israeli sister city a condition for having a Palestinian sister city is itself chauvinistic, if not downright racist, as it implies that Israel owns the Palestinians, and that the Palestinians are not allowed to express themselves without Israeli approval. Hence this type of ownership becomes an extension of Israel's physical occupation of the Palestinians.

 

Let us go to the Aug. 22nd meeting in Temple Beth Hatfiloh. Will they allow Palestinian Christians to come in ?

Just to clarify

I didn't intend to advocate a boycott of the limited sort that Jewish Voice for Peace is promoting; when Berd posted about them, I was curious about who they were, and I thought I'd save anybody else who was curious the trouble of looking them up like I did.

(My own view, at this point anyway, is that the appropriate target for a boycott directed against the foreign policy of Israel's government is Israeli goods in general, because that foreign policy reflects the choices made by the citizens as a whole in elections. But since I think that the coop boycott is a purely symbolic gesture, there may well be ways of narrowing it that I wouldn't mind if they made people who are unhappy about it feel somewhat better. )

(For what it's worth, I also happen to think that the idea of refusing to invite individual Israeli academics to conferences is appalling.)

Best,
Thad

Best wishes,
Thad

 

Yes...

"I also happen to think that the idea of refusing to invite individual Israeli academics to conferences is appalling."  It is.