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The BDS Debate Comes to Park Slope

The famous Food Coop discusses boycotting goods

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The Park Slope Food Coop.(Paul Lowry/Flickr)

A perfect storm of Bobo contradictions is brewing at the Park Slope Food Coop, with a members-only meeting and vote scheduled next Tuesday over whether the Coop, which is perhaps the ultimate symbol of Brownstone Brooklyn, will vote discuss whether or not to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. [An earlier version read that there would actually be a vote. We regret the error.]

The most immediate concrete effect of the Coop’s endorsing the BDS movement will probably be on its hummus stocks. But obviously the stakes are far higher because it could be seen to represent liberal American Jews (who was it you thought belonged to the Coop?) rejecting Israel.

No one would be more plugged into this debate than Rabbi Andy Bachman, whose Congregation Beth Elohim is a few blocks from the Coop in Park Slope and who surely has plenty of congregants who buy their fresh produce there every week. So his official statement, in which he rejects the BDS movement, is worth a read. “A closer look at the BDS movement reveals that the basic assumption of Israel’s right to exist is not shared and in fact even a cursory look into BDS rhetoric reveals that the ultimate goal of the majority of its supporters is a dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state,” he argues. “The BDS movement singles out Israel as the sole offender in this painful and protracted conflict. Moreover, the BDS movement ignores the broader regional context and glaring human rights abuses in surrounding states that destructively impact the dynamics between Israel and the Palestinians. Finally, the BDS movement ignores the tremendous efforts being made on the ground, on a daily basis, to strengthen the hands of those in Israel and Palestine who daily work for peace.”

He, naturally, still has nice things to say about the Coop. Everyone loves the Coop. But for how much longer?

Official Statement on Park Slope Food Coop, Israel and the BDS Discussion [Water Over Rocks]

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Ephraim says:

Dear Tablet:

Kol ha kavod to Rabbi Bachman. May he go from strength to strength.

The idea that any Jew would consider, even for a second, boycotting Israel is just such a shande I don’t know what to say.

With Jews like this, who needs anti-Semites?

For shame.

Bravo Andy Bachman for staking out a position that reconciles an historic commitment to peace with an unbending devotion to truth, a stance not likely to endear him to many. For disenchanted liberals who nonetheless still harbor hopes for some kind of durable arrangement between Israel and the Arabs of Palestine, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Richard says:

If the vote passes, maybe the Co-Op can find somewhere other than the very same Temple Beth Elohim to hold future meetings.

jacob arnon says:

I believe it’s a mistake to engage the BDS movement at any level. It just gives them credibility.

We should treat them as if they were holocaust deniers and not address their false claim at all.

Just make fun of them, or talk about them but not to them.

As for the coop why people can always boycott the coop.

I doubt Israel will be hurt if a coop decides not to buy Israeli goods.

You have quite a few inaccuracies and ommissions.

1)The meeting is only a discussion on holding a referendum to join BDS. This the the first time this will be discussed at a General Meeting. There will be no vote.

2)The initiative comes from a few members only. The Coop’s governance system allows for members to submit items to the General Meeting. The initiative does not have the support of the Coop management.

3)Rabbi Bachman is not a member of the Park Slope Food Coop (but I wish he were, because his post is so eloquent) and he is in Jerusalem at the moment. There are many people who are more “plugged in”

4)We have a strong and well organized opposition to BDS.

5)The Coop’s hummus is from America.

Do you call this journalism?

Someone says:


Sanych says:

I believe it is the same two members who keep bringing this issue forward. Does Coop sell tar and feather, and, because the meeting will be at the temple, do they have to be kosher?

AntiZionist says:

Roy praised “unbending devotion to truth.”

WHAT truth?
Israel cannot admit the truth — that it is living on stolen land, that it continues to steal land. If that truth is admitted, then this statement is properly understood as the nonsense that it is:

“The BDS movement singles out Israel as the sole offender in this painful and protracted conflict. Moreover, the BDS movement ignores the broader regional context and glaring human rights abuses in surrounding states that destructively impact the dynamics between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Let’s unpack that statement with some facts and evidence — truth:
-Palestinian Arabs are the VICTIMS of Israeli oppression; how can VICTIMS be “offenders?” Israel is singled out as the sole offender because it IS the sole offender: Palestinians are not stealing land and homes from Jews, but Jews are stealing homes and land from Arabs. Fact.

-The “whataboutthoseotherguys” argument is not worthy of discussing.

-“Destructively impact the dynamics between Israel and Palestine.” What does that mean? Is the rabbi trying to say that Iran is encouraging Palestinian Arabs to stand up for their rights and resist Israeli occupation, which destroys Israel’s ease of crushing the possibility of Palestinian independence? Is the rabbi trying to say that after Israel goes to the effort of slaughtering Lebanese and Gazan civilians and destroying the civilian infrastructure in those two places, neighbors like Iran and Syria pour millions of dollars into helping the Lebanese rebuild, and helping the people of Gaza persist in peaceful resistance? Is that what’s bothering the rabbi, that Israel’s destructive dynamic is being thwarted by Lebanon and Gaza/WB’s neighbors? I applaud those states that aid Palestinians.

BDS is far less than what should really happen to Israel.

George says:

Without hurling invective and ad hominem attacks at AntiZionist, I’ll just as the simple question: are the Israeli products that the Coop currently offers inferior to comparable products made by other nations? What are the specifically offending items and why do they represent anything more than people trying to make an honest living? Are you suggesting that goods made by Israelis are somehow reliant on oppression? And if so, where are alternative goods of comparable quality to be found among other Middle Eastern countries who presumably have superior approaches to human rights? And if you cannot offer specific examples, then you are approaching this issue philosophically rather than practically. I know I won’t change your mind, but I will point out that propaganda is a helluva lot easier than productivity.

“AntiZionist” is clearly AntiSemitic (Anti-Jewish) – the closing line “BDS is far less than what should really happen to Israel” shows the their true colors!

Dani ben Leb says:

Here is an “academic” from the North West, Dr. Nada Elia ( Palestinian ) explaining in great detail what BDS is. For her, as an organizer of BDS , Right of return of “all refugees” ( 5 Million people ) is certainly a fundamental part of BDS .
I concur with Ephraim that “Kauft nicht beim Juden” is nothing but shande. Further shande is Tablet’s recent publishing of writings by activists who actively and strongly support BDS across the globe, Joseph Dana and Mya Guarnieri, be this at Electronic Intifada, 972mag or other outlets which peddle to the far left.
I respect freedom of speech, but not when it calls for the abolition of the State of Israel.

Ezekiel says:

BDS is hate speech, plain and simple. Beit Elohim should not allow this discussion on it’s premises.

Paul says:

the Rabbi is either mendacious or ignorant beyond belief. Zionism is a real estate scam, ongoing as the Nakba has never ended. all who ignore reality and attempt tonormalize occupation and ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians are complicit in the crime. what religious person advocates theft from others? shame.

sabril says:

“Antizionist” competently demonstrates the attitude behind the BDS movement. It’s not about getting Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, or to dismantle checkpoints, or anything like that. The goal is to wipe Israel off the map, plain and simple.

“Jews are stealing homes and land from Arabs”

And what of the Jews who were chased out of Hebron in 1930, chased out of Gaza City in 1948, and chased out of East Jerusalem in 1948? Was their land stolen? Are they entitled to compensation?

Someone says:

Dear Editors,

Mark Tracy’s lazy scratch off of one word and un-researched retraction STILL gets it wrong!


” Brownstone Brooklyn, will vote (word now scratched out) discuss whether or not to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. [An earlier version read that there would actually be a vote. We regret the error.]”

Please! We are NOT discussing whether or not to join anything. If Tracy bothered to research his story, he would have simply called up and asked the Coop themselves for a copy of our general meeting agenda. He obviously did not. Allow me then: “Item #1: Discussion about conducting a membership-wide referendum on the participation…” of the PSFC in a boycott.

Sorry to bore you with the necessary facts, but a discussion about conducting a referendum has a very clear definition in our by-laws and is distinctly different from discussing “whether or not to join the boycott…”. Coop procedures and rules are very careful about that, under any circumstances and under any issue.


“The most immediate concrete effect of the Coop’s endorsing the BDS movement…”

The use of the present tense implies that something has been endorsed already. Need I repeat myself on this count again?

I assume that Tablet is run by responsible Jews who come from a tradition of respecting the word. Yet Tracy is dodging responsibility for research into our coop’s style of democracy because he wants to join a media circus, not present printed, easily verifiable facts.

Please retract, scratch out, or preferably wipe out, the entire article, or at least the first two paragraphs. Enough damage has already been done with Tracy’s ‘research’, and PFSC members shouldn’t have to do his heavy thinking for him.

Someone says:

And by “damage” I mean that his conclusions, unverifiable as they are, are picked up by anyone wishing to do the PSFC damage, or mock it, or use it as a political football to kick all over the web. Of course Tracy is shrugging with bewilderment right now at my frustration, thinking: “Hey, this is what news is! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Journalism means verifying facts beyond what you copy and paste off the web and maybe one or two phone calls. You’re not a journalist Tracy, you’re just a writer, as in someone who knows how construct a sentence, no different than any garden-variety nobody who learned to post to the web. Unfortunately the spirit of your writing reeks of a lonely, angry little man who grumbles when others succeed. And since the coop is a beautiful successful institution, it fits perfectly in your crosshairs. Well, you’re no worse than anyone who hates and fears what he doesn’t understand.

Jay A Friedman says:

I have the highest respect for all those “knowledgeable”
“Jews” who have taken time off from their studies of Jewish History, Jewish Culture, Jewish Theology and Ideology to debate the potential of joining with the haters of Israel to organize a Boycott against my country.

They are all “experts” in Judaism and have obviously committed themselves to the furtherance of Jewish culture and education.

Query??? Will they also discuss the possibility of boycotting Saudi Oil or Syrian goods or products from Myanmar or blood diamonds?

Or is the animosity of these Jews limited to hatred of other Jews?

Anti zionist and Paul:

Land grab? Scam? Dispossess?

Israel already has demonstrated its willingness to forgo land for peace. The Hamas charter does not call for peace and, in fact, calls for the death of all Jews worldwide. Go read it.
Israel fought a legitimate war of independence, out of necessity more noble than the economic one fought by our founding fathers (except those of Plimouth descent.)

land grab! Tell That to the victims of the Holy Land during the Arab conquest of the late 8th C.


Cloggie says:

I object to the assumption no one hates the Coop. I do. “Working” there was miserable and shopping was miserable too. Many of the people who were self-entitled jerks at the Coop were actually perfectly nice people outside the Coop.

Dan O. says:

Hey, I’m usually down with throwing barbs at the coop. It’s a generally unpleasant place that people deal with for good, cheap food. The co-op doesn’t care about rank and file members – there are far too many of them.

That said, this kind of criticism of the co-op smacks of anti-democratic sentiment. Coops are necessarily democratic. Any member can get an item on the agenda without fear, say, of being sued for fomenting boycott. Unlike, well …

The author might not have been to Park Slope lately. The Progressive Jews that live there are much older than he thinks, even if they do still wear graphic tees. Still, they don’t “control” the coop. As unpleasant places to work and shop go, it’s stunningly diverse.

Apparently treating the Arabs with equal rights equates to the destruction of Israel. If so, so be it. One state with equal rights for all is the only solution. Israel probably could have had an ethnocentric state, but the 1967 land grab backfired and now they have 4 million refugees they cant rid of…oh well.

For Antizionist: Who was it that said:

“National Socialist Germany knows the Jews well and has decided to find a final solution for the Jewish danger which will end the evil in the world.”

1) Adolf Hitler
2) Heinrich Himmler
3) Haj Amin el Husseini

If you chose #3, you are correct. El Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem & the first leader of Palestinian Arab nationalism, said this at a speech made in Berlin on Nov 2, 1943.

Suggest you read the following:

* Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine by Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Martin Cuppers and Krista Smith

In the same speech, el Husseini said: “The Arabs especially and Muslims in general are obliged to make this their goal, from which they will not stray and which they must reach with all their powers: it is the expulsion of all Jews from Arab and Muslim lands.”

El Husseini met Hitler in 1942. Hitler said to him: “Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine. which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests.”

Hitler said “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power.”

Authors of “Nazi Palestine” document how a “special unit was assembled and trained in Greece in the spring of 1942 by SD officer Walter Rauff, the originator of the gassing van experiments in Poland and the Soviet Union. They were to operate behind the lines with the help of those in the region who were eager to join the task force.”

Only the Allies victory over Rommel in N. Africa prevented the Shoah from reaching the Mideast, incld. Jewish Palestine.

Photos of el Husseini’s Nazi days can be found by Googling “mufti with hitler”

Israel is the “sole offender”? Only if you refuse to digest the facts through willful ignorance.

For “Avi”

So, you support the destruction of Israel? You are thus in alignment with Hamas, Hezbullah, Ahmadinejad, etc. You would support the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews, the expulsions of millions more — because that is what it would take. This makes you not a peacemaker, but a war monger.

So, ethnocentric states are against your values, it would seem. Let’s take a look at the Third Draft Constitution for a Palestinian State, the very same Palestinian state that may come into being this September:

==> Article (2) Palestine is part of the Arab homeland. The state of Palestine abides by the Charter of the League of Arab States. The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. Arab unity is a goal. The Palestinian people work on behalf of its realization.

==> Article (5) Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Christianity and all other monotheistic religions are accorded sanctity and respect. The constitution guarantees equality in rights and duties to all citizens irrespective of their religious creed.

To summarize: the State of Palestine is to be officially an Arab state that gives Islam primacy, with Arabic (and only Arabic) being the official language.

I guess this would make you an opponent of Palestinian statehood? That is if you are to hold consistently by your anti-“ethnocratic” values. If not, then you would be a hypocrite.

I would also urge you to look at the constitutions of all “Arab” states, that make them all officially ethnocratic entities, even those with sizable non-Arab minorities (Kurds, Copts, Berbers, Assyrians, Jews — whoops, no Jews, the Arab governments expelled them after 1948 – see Justice for Jews from Arab Countries,

Do you support the “destruction” of these Arab ethnocratic states?

Read my other post for a better understanding of the nationalist movement you are clearly favoring, and its pro-Nazi roots.


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The BDS Debate Comes to Park Slope

The famous Food Coop discusses boycotting goods

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