Protest Reportback

Protest on Pacific Friday 30 July 2010
I went to the protest at the co-op. I was really impressed by the community. It was obvious to me how much people, on both sides of the boycott issue, care about each other, and care about the co-op.

There were some great conversations. And while tensions certainly run high, I am hopeful that differences amongst the co-op community can be reconciled and that a mutually beneficial solution can be found.

I witnessed people listening to each other, really listening to each other. And I think a lot of people gained some ground in understanding each other—which is amazing, because it was a protest.

People who are opposed to the boycott decision expressed some concerns that make a lot of sense to me. For example, the fact that the statement indicates a need to return "all occupied Arab lands." That's a very vague statement. And it could be interpreted as the destruction of the state of Israel.

Fortunately, that is not what is intended. Given the persecution that Jews have faced (and continue to face,) I, personally, support the right of Israel to exist. And I think most people who support the boycott are not trying to deny the fact that there is Anti-Jewish oppression in the world. And I also think that most people who are working in solidarity with Palestinians do not deny the right of Israel to exist.

So, perhaps the statement could be amended to acknowledge the right of the state of Israel to exist. I think there is a middle ground that everyone can agree to.

Because I also heard those who are opposed to the boycott acknowledge the human rights violations of Israel. Many people who oppose the current boycott decision are not in favor of settlement expansion, for example.

What it looks like to Palestinians, who are being kicked out of their homes and neighborhoods, and subjected to blatant and overt discriminatory treatment on a daily basis, is understood by people on both sides of this.

It's a touchy issue. And the situation in Israel/Palestine is not good—for both Jews and Palestinians. These are two groups of oppressed people. And it really doesn't make sense for oppressed groups to fight each other.

Bottom-line: people who are pro-BDS are not anti-Israel, or anti-Jewish—they are pro-Palestine, and pro-human rights. And people who are against the co-op boycott are not anti-Palestinian, or anti-human rights—and they have legitimate concerns about the wording of the boycott statement that deserve to be addressed.

Thanks again to the co-op for providing an opportunity for the community to address this important issue, and providing a framework where everyone's concerns can be brought to the table and exposed to the light of day, so that a mutually beneficial solution can be arrived at.

So, anyway, that's my take on it, and I hope that people can keep talking. Because this is really about doing what is best for everyone.

No to oppression of Palestinians! And No to oppression of Jews!


p.s. so, again, I think an effort to rescind the vote would be unproductive and would cause perhaps irreconcilable division and hurt feelings amongst co-op memberships. So I would encourage people to look toward other avenues to resolve this conflict.

p.p.s. I still stand by my statements that the problem here are the hegemonic international policies of the USA, and that ultimately what those policies do is prey upon Jewish fear of persecution. I view Israel as an exploited partner of US policies of global dominance. Jewish people deserve to be treated well, and to live in peace. [more here]

The fact that the USA gives Israel nearly $3B every year, and turns its head away from the crimes of occupation of Palestinian lands, is a crime of the most egregious nature. Palestinians deserve to be treated well, and to live in peace.

The USA must change. It must stop abusing Israel and Israelis, and condoning, enabling, and supporting the state of Israel's abuse of Palestinians. [more here]

[also see this story about Stand With Us in Olympia: here]

Here are some more photos from the rally:

Friday 30 July 2010 Olympia Food Co-op Rally


photos again embedded with descriptions:

I Love the Olympia Food Co-op
I love the Olympia Food Co-op: common sentiments amongst people on both sides of the Board decision to boycott Israeli product. view larger

Protest on Pacific
Protest on Pacific, this is somewhat of the overall scene. view larger

One Co-op, One Olympia
One Co-op, One Olympia view larger

OFC 30 July 2010
At the OFC 30 July 2010 view larger

I love Israel
I love Israel

Emotions on this issue run high. I think that's okay. People have legitimate concerns about the boycott that need to be addressed.

For example, the wording of the statement is vague about requiring the return of "all occupied Arab lands." That could be interpreted in different ways.

I think most people who support the boycott—people working in solidarity with Palestinians—also recognize the right of Israel to exist. And I think many, if not most of people who currently oppose the boycott, also oppose the human rights violations of Israel—for example, settlement expansion in Palestinian Territories (which is illegal.)

What Israel is doing to Palestinians is unacceptable, but nonetheless Israel should have a right to exist.

Perhaps the boycott statement can be modified to clarify the meaning of the return "of all occupied Arab lands." Maybe what that means is an end to the occupation of Palestinians territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights) and an end to the siege of Gaza.

The Dude
I had never seen this man, on the bike, seen here talking to Josh, before yesterday. He was very interesting. He had some flyers which equated the Food Co-op to Nazis.

He loaded up a shopping cart with $300 worth of food, then left without paying for it. Some people re-shelved the items.

Then he was harassing some people in the parking lot, and finally was forcibly kicked out.

There have been some outside agitators, trouble-makers, coming to Olympia and behaving in ways that are disruptive and aggravating to people who care about the co-op.

Another example was a person who represented himself as being against the boycott, but was saying all sorts of horrible things against Arabs.

One of the boycott opponents made it clear that this type of disruptive behavior was not okay, and that this man did not stand with the rest of the boycott opponents. It was heartwarming to see such honest exchanges.

Given the persecution that

Given the persecution that Jews have faced (and continue to face,) I, personally, support the right of Israel to exist.


Essentially, you're saying that any oppressed religious/ethnic/racial group that is oppressed deserves a nation of their own. Which turns being oppressed into a virtue. Which is a major cause for the horror inflicted in the middle east. Both Israelis & Palestinians feel justified in killing each other, committing acts of terrorism (both individual & state terrorism) because they've been oppressed. Obviously, by your logic, you feel that there should be a Palestinian state, because the Palestinians have most certainly faced (and continue to face) persecution. Where is that state going to be? And what about all those "persecuted" Israelis that now must leave their land to make way for the "persecuted" Palestinians to have a home?


You see how quickly this sort of attitude becomes ludicrous. There is nothing good from persecution, and worst of all is the attitude that people deserve something for going through it. You're creating a virtue out of it, which is quite a sick thing to do. By rewarding the victims for the sole reason of being victims, you encourage more victimhood. This attitude is at the core of the continuing horrors & atrocities committed in the middle east for decades. It's a part of the problem, not the solution. It skews the ideals of justice and human dignity. I ask that you re-examine your attitude, as I feel it is beneath you.

What oppression of Jews are

you referring to Berd?. The shoah was three generations ago, there is one nuclear armed nation in the Middle East and it ain't Syria, and by judging from census data American Jews are doing better than most ethnicities. So where other than the web pages of Stormfront are Jews being oppressed?

The state of Israel is pretty much the Western powers making the Palestinians pay for the atrocities of Europa against the Jews. Zionism is the curious partner in solving the 'Jewish Question'. Helen Thomas is right. The Ashkenazim Jews should return from whence they came.

Equivalency is the enabler of fuzzy thinking.

What BDS actually supports

"Bottom-line: people who are pro-BDS are not anti-Israel, or anti-Jewish—they are pro-Palestine, and pro-human rights"


Unfortunately, Berd, while this statement may be true for you, it is NOT true of the BDS movement.  Check their own websites:  they insist NOT ONLY on Israel's withdrawal from "occupied Arab lands" (which opponents of peace consider to be ALL of Israel) but also on the fictional "right" of return of great grandchildren of those who started the war in 1947 to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. And they openly acknowledge that if Israel were to completely return to the June 4 1967 lines tomorrow, their calls for BDS would not end.  How is that NOT anti-Israel (at least as far as Israel is the state of the Jewish people)?  What about the human rights of the Jewish people to national self-determination in their own homeland?

And for Laurian and other racist fans of Helen Thomas:  even DNA analysis shows that Ashkenazic Jews (who lived in Europe for centuries) and Sephardic Jews (who remained in North Africa and the Middle East) are more closely related than the Ashkenazim are to non-Jewish Eastern Europeans.  So the Jewish people are one people, from one land, and have just as much right to national self-determination there as any other people.  

Sad and creepy Dr. Mike

you feel it ok to resort to the same Blut un Volk argument of the Master Race to justify Zionism. See why a couple million fanatical Jews give me the creeps?

BTW, calling me a racist is fighting words.

Hey, Berd. Thanks a million

Hey, Berd. Thanks a million for helping out at the WIP Pizza Party last night! :)

Personally, I don't think this "contentious debate" is really as contentious as the boycott opposition wants to make it out to be.

Ultimately, I'd be alright with clarifying those listed positions, to try and avoid some of the more direct mischaracterizations, because maybe the statement isn't clear enough on the face of it. To me, it would be a tactical thing, similar to having the "commitment to non-violence" statement in PMR. Nobody in PMR was ever violent or had any intention of being violent, and on some level I was insulted by the idea that we would have to pledge to being non-violent while opposing some of the most horrific violence in the world. I was insulted that the scope of discussion was so heavily skewed in the wrong direction. But ultimately, having the statement be a part of PMR made more people more comfortable in joining, and thus was good from a purely tactical standpoint. And that's the level in which I wouldn't oppose such clarifications in the BDS statement...

AS LONG AS, if we did make such clarifications, we openly understand that we're not going to make a habit of capitulating ideologically to every random BS argument they can find to assail the good people of BDS. As has been demonstrated, if it isn't Reason X, then it's Reason Y, and if we address Reason Y, then it becomes Reason Z, and if we show why Reason Z is invalid, they'll just keep repeating Reason Z ad infinitum anyway. (The whole "They hate Israel" and "They hate Jews" bit is just a recycled variant of the whole "They hate the troops" and "They hate freedom" thing from the PMR days, and just as phony.)

It's important to remember, as far as this little battle over the Co-op here in Oly goes, we're winning, and they're losing. And the reason they're losing isn't because we're being unfair, or because the power dynamic is skewed in our favor (which if anything, it's skewed in the other direction). We're winning because people are seeing that the opposition is on the wrong side of history, and because they've failed to engage constructively in the dialogue they claim to want so much, choosing instead to keep repeating Reason Z.

I don't think any reasonable person

really has a problem understanding what is meant by "the occupied territories" in the context of this petition.  It's the West Bank and Gaza.  We can get bogged down in those useless semantics or focus on the real problem, which is the "right of return." 

"Return."  Is that like "returnback?"