I was reminded of this group, Young, Jewish, and Proud, via JVP today.
Here's a video about their campaign:
The Olympian reports that five people are suing the Olympia Food Co-op over its boycott of Israeli products. According to the Olympian, the civil complaint states that the Co-op board violated policy by implementing the boycott. In other words, the plaintiffs are supposedly suing over “process.”
Some things to note:
1. Three of the five plaintiffs ran for the Olympia Food Co-op board late last year.
2. All three lost by a wide margin.
3. After they lost, they spread rumors that the reason they lost was because there was cheating in the board elections.
4. They carried this rumor over to Jon Haber’s silly blog.
5. On Dec. 16, 2010, one of the plaintiffs went to the Co-op board meeting where she tried to get one of the winning candidates disqualified.
6. This plaintiff also stated that the election was “the dirtiest election since the Bush dynasty.” She compared it to “a third world country with ancient blood feuds bubbling to the surface.” (She really said that. I took notes.)
7. This plaintiff had previously criticized the Co-op board for not “address[ing] the secret/underground national security government.”
But there’s more:
Yesterday a report was released by Electronic Initfada that connects the plaintiffs, the lawsuit, and their lawyer with the Israeli Consulate and a notorious organization called StandWithUs:
The Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli products is to continue until: “Israel respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
What does that mean?
What is UN resolution 194?
What is the current thinking among the Palestinian national movement about UN resolution 194 and the situation facing Palestinian refugees?
Come hear Professor Goldberg speak on:
UN Resolution 194 and Palestinian Refugees
Sunday November 21
7 p.m. at Temple Beth Hatfiloh
201 8th Street SE (8th and Washington)
Professor Ellis Goldberg will talk about some of the issues surrounding Palestinian refugees and the debate around UN General Assembly Resolution 194. He’ll discuss the contemporary debate over the meaning and relevance of UN GAR 194 as well as the original context of its passage. In addition he will speak to how the Palestinian national movement has come to re-evaluate its stance in regard to this and other UN resolutions as well as the unwelcome implications for both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for accepting UN GAR 194 as a basis for resolving the overall conflict.
Ellis Goldberg is a professor of political science at the University of Washington. His undergraduate degree is from Harvard College and his Ph.D. is from the University of California at Berkeley. He has written extensively on the political economy of twentieth century Egypt including two books, Tinker, Tailor and Textile Worker (1986) as well as Trade, Reputation and Child Labor in Twentieth Century Egypt (2004). He is currently engaged in a project on contemporary Arab political thought.
More information about this event here
This was a great discussion about the topics of Anti-Semitism, Anti-Jewish Oppression and Jew-Hating, Islamophobia, and Anti-Arab racism in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the greater global environment of (waning) US and Anglo-American hegemony.
As members of the local Muslim and Jewish communities who strongly support the recent decision of the Olympia Food Co-op to boycott Israeli goods, we feel called to add our voices to the discussion surrounding the Co-op’s decision. Reading much of the local press, or listening to the arguments rehearsed by vocal opponents of the boycott, one gets the impression that the issue belongs essentially to two polar groups of community members. At one pole are those who are depicted as a small group of passionate, though regrettably misguided, activists who single-mindedly support the boycott. At the other pole is another small group who are fervently opposed to the boycott, either because they believe the boycott to be “anti-Semitic,” or because they feel dissatisfied with the “process” through which the boycott was instituted, or with the absence of “dialogue” in the run up to the decision. In between these poles falls the greater Olympia community, painted as rife with division, and in dire need of “healing.”
I believe the subject of Israel/Palestine is important and it should be debated. However, right now problems related to Israel/Palestine are being used as a smoke screen for another problem, one that is closer to home. It won't be possible for our community to effectively address Israel/Palestine until we face what happened in July. The boycott had an unprecedented absence of community education in advance of the decision. There are reasons for this and our community needs an honest reckoning. Not a blaming session, but a chance to acknowledge the situation.
In the 19 years that I've been an OFC member I've learned about the thorny political elements of cotton farming, high fructose corn syrup, organic food standards, the suffering of migrant workers, and other complex political subjects from OFC education efforts related to building consensus and forming OFC policies. All of this helped us unite around various OFC efforts, spread the word and "vote with our dollars" in and out of the co-op. We had nothing like that in July. This was a mistake. It can be easily corrected, forgiven and we can move forward together.
It is community reconciliation and education that IOC is working towards, a foundation of trust on which you and I can stand and address all sorts of things, including Palestinian suffering. I can't imagine a debate format being part of any OFC education process on any subject, let alone being particularly useful for the community at this time on this subject. I believe that when Olympia cooperates we are at our best, we accomplish great things and we serve as a beacon of hope for the world.
An Open Letter to Boycott Opponents from Olympia BDS
As community members and peace activists, we are proud that the Olympia Food Co-op has joined a rapidly growing global movement for social justice in a conflict for which we are all complicit. It is an honor to stand with Desmond Tutu and with prominent Palestinian and Israeli activists who are risking their lives to create a just peace.
As the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz noted recently about the Co-op and the boycott movement, “The sums involved are not large, but their international significance is huge.”
Our commitment to working for peace in Israel and Palestine is intertwined with our commitment to the Olympia community. We have sought to educate the public through events with notable speakers such as Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Ali Abunimah.
Our next steps include hosting a visit by esteemed Jewish liberation theologian Marc Ellis and sponsoring a panel discussion on anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism, and Islamophobia. We are dedicated to informing the local community to not only talk about peace and justice, but to make it a reality.
We also stand committed to fighting all forms of oppression.
The swastikas that appeared at a Jewish high school on Mercer Island last month affect us personally, for we boycott supporters are also Jews, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, and queers—everything that the swastika is summoned to oppose.
I got to stand and talk with Tibor and others today at the co-op for about an hour before my volunteer shift. It was an interesting conversation and good. I am glad that I got to visit.
I have some new thoughts (and would welcome those of others) on why I think it is wrong to pressure the Board to rescind the boycott.
Letter to the Editor by Anne Fischel in today's Olympian about community divisions and polarization surrounding the conflict in Israel/Palestine: http://www.theolympian.com/2010/09/30/1386814/some-lives-more-valued.html. Anne's letter is important because it testifies to predisposed polarization—polarization that has been present previous to the OFC boycott.