Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

ISRAEL: Co-op board wrong to boycott Israeli products

Letter by Susan J. Schaeffer, Olympia on Aug. 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm with 40 Comments »
August 13, 2010 1:35 pm

I support my Jewish friends in their view of the Olympia Food Co-op boycott. If the board does not change its position, I will resign my membership.

Will the loss of my single membership be a big deal to the board or the co-op? I suspect not. However, that really isn’t the point.

In addition, if the board does not change its stance in regards to the Israeli boycott, I would ask that it clearly advertise itself as a political entity, because that is what it will have primarily become.

My further and alternative suggestion is as follows: that the co-op provide a small label on each shelf identifying any possible objectionable item to inform members of the issue, then allow members the privilege and responsibility of making their own moral or political decision about whether or not to support the cause.

That, in my mind, is the real issue here – that the board has usurped my right, my intelligence, and my personal moral and political integrity in an effort to become final arbiters of what is good and what is evil. This is the height of arrogance and should be personally insulting to every member.

We will never agree on all issues. But each member deserves an equal right to make his or her own moral and political choices, and the equal responsibility to use due diligence in those choices. This, in my mind, would deem the board as the highest and fairest arbiter of all.

Leave a comment Comments → 40
  1. freakwater says:

    Hezbullah, Hamas, and Al Qaeda all support the boycott.

  2. Gee, I hope none of the board members has a serious medical condition during the boycott as a vast amount of high technology medical equipment comes from Israel. (Especially scanning, imaging and surgical devices.) It would be a good test of their resolve.

  3. It would be interesting to know how many of them would refuse a potentially life-saving scan, say one that showed the doctors exactly where that nasty brain tumor resides, in order to make their “statement” against Israel.

  4. Hamas(s) – the ones who blow ‘em up

    Israel (Zion)- the ones who sew ‘em up

    Tomatoes from the farms of the Naphtali / Zebulon region are so sweet and better eating than the threaded warheads of Kassim rockets from several miles …north…

  5. Goodness Susan! I have Jewish friends too! And they are citizens of Israel! And they support the boycott of Israel so that their government changes its ways.

  6. Sumner401 says:

    Why do some many feel the need to kiss the behind of Israel?
    It’s a country, just like any other, it’s not a magic place filled with unicorns or anything, it’s in the desert and not that special.
    Get over it already.

    To the boycott, we should be boycotting everything that is imported, period.

  7. larsman – no tomato, no matter where it came from, is going to taste like a tomato if it was shipped halfway around the world. Locally grown tomatoes are the only ones that have half a chance of actually tasting the way tomatoes are supposed to.

  8. MarksonofDarwin says:

    This is a very intelligent, and well written letter….even those who don’t agree with her stance, must at least admit that.

    I guess I understand your pique at Susan saying she “supports her Jewish friends” beerBoy. When she says that, I suppose it could be a back-door way of saying she’s not the A-S word…and implying that those who disagree are.
    I didn’t take it that way however, nor did I think she was referring to specific Jewish friends, but that she is friendly to the Jews in Israel. But then, I’m not looking for that to discredit her either….

    You’ve mentioned your Jewish-Israeli friends before bB.
    That got me wondering…..
    What was their reaction when you informed them that they were enjoying an un-fair advantage while living in an Apartheid state.
    How about when you told them their government is perpetrating the very thing they, themselves have endured…namely, a Holocaust.
    Did they agree that their home country is practicing Genocide?

    Boy….I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!

  9. MoD – it was a discussion with an Israeli citizen, former IDF soldier, that changed my view of Israel. I, an American who had never been to Israel, was arguing with this person who had first-hand knowledge that Israel was just defending herself. Needless to say, after those conversations I have done considerable research that tends to support what my friend was telling me.

  10. To clarify – that sentence should read:

    I, an American who had never been to Israel, was arguing that Israel was just defending herself with this person who had first-hand knowledge as a citizen and former soldier.

  11. Bb- An earlier post of mine gave you reasons for the variety of opinions within Israel’s coalition government (that’s what a coalition is). Not all are Orthodox, for the same reason that you and I are not of the same political persuasion. Major (ex-) Nidal Hasan is an American but that murderer is most emphatically not emblematic of U.S. policy. Just because you know one or a few Israelis doesn’t mean they are the official historical spokesmen for their nation. They merely have opinions like you and I.
    BTW- We have had Israeli tomatoes some years back, from Top Food…Great!

  12. iamjimbo says:

    Larsman, well said. I was about to (attempt to) make the same point.

  13. MarksonofDarwin says:

    And to add to Larsman’s correct observation, it can’t be said enough that in Israel dissent is not only allowed…it flourishes and is printed in their free press daily.

    I believe our friend bB has actually provided links to a few critical op-eds from that country.

    It must be true that all Palestinians are perfectly content with their government….

    **HEY!…was that a unicorn that just flew by?**

  14. Larsman and Ij – the last sentence of my previous post:

    “Needless to say, after those conversations I have done considerable research that tends to support what my friend was telling me.”

    Israel will never be secure until a viable two-state solution is reached.

  15. Problem is, Bb , Get a map and show us all where your so-called 2 states would be. That’s like putting both hands out and calling them ‘one’ hand. Like you yourself have said ” If one repeats a lie ( or bad math and geography) long enough, then people will eventually believe it. The ignorant media keeps repeating the chant “two-state-solution” but as John Lennon would say ” 1+1+1 is 3. So let’s all count it off together, shall we ; Israel = 1, Gaza =2 , uhhh that’s 2
    When Hamas(s) retracts the “Annihilate Israel” language in its well documented founding charter ( which the media consistently bumps into but (ow, ow, ow) quietly ignores, an actual discussion can begin. Minus zip codes, of course…

  16. azleycat says:

    “Israel will never be secure until a viable two-state solution is reached.” This is untrue. No matter what ‘solution’ is reached if one ever is, Israel will never be safe. It’s neighbors will not let it be. Ever.

  17. asleycat – I used to say that the Troubles in Ireland would never end and that Mandela would never leave prison alive…

    larsman – easy….1948 borders as Israel was established. I would consider the 1967 borders but – since those gains were created by “pre-emptive defensive actions” (a war of aggression) started by Israel – it would be better to return to 1948.

    But…..Israel must stop the illegal settlements and remove them. They are clearly an attempt to make a Two-state solution impossible because of “facts on the ground”.

  18. Am I witnessing a conversion by beerboy? If so, I commend you for reading something other than Media Matters and Huffington.

  19. iamjimbo says:

    B, you used to say alot of things that you have subsequently done a 180 on… since Mr. Soetoro became the oval office occupant.

  20. ij – do you have any quotes to prove that? ;-)

    frosty – I am not an ideologue, therefore my positions evolve as information changes.

    But, my basic position on Israel hasn’t really changed (since that discussion with a former IDF soldier many years ago). Yes – Israel has a right to exist, but the Palestinians also have a right to self-rule. The blood-crazed idiocy on both sides prevents either side from really doing what is in their own best interests. Israel has the power, they need to make first real step towards peace.

  21. iamjimbo says:

    Unfortunately i am away from the computer with my archives…

  22. Bb-The conditions of S. Africa or Ireland are not the topic and you have only admitted to being wrong on your assessment of them both. Appreciate your honesty. 1948, April or June? Does that mean Ham-as(s) must give back Gaza according to you? The survivors of the Nazis no sooner disembarked when an Arab military coalition advised the current Arab / Muslim residents to “temporarily” remove themselves to the newly designated( via U.N.charter mandate) Hashemite Kingdom of Trans Jordan until the Jews were totally destroyed (rather like the current Hezbollah charter via Iran). This attempt failed miserably (like very many subsequent versions and a real good past version
    “Jehoshaphat” in I Kings). Since the Arab coalition failed, those Arabs who were advised to relocate had by default relinquished their real estate by accepting a war that was list for them. Israel did not start 1949, 1956, 1967, 1973, or reneged on the Oslo Accord ( check Mrs.Arafat’s French bank account and then blame ,sigh, Israel for that too). For the last 1,930 or so years, that area has been desert and rocks. Now that The Israeli’s have actually made something of it and even given Gaza back, the jealousy and greed against Zion continues. They have a right to procreate and invite those emigrating from other countries(legally, like we should)…

  23. Pre-emptive defensive action? That’s a bit of a pretzel…

  24. from the ADL’s site

    In May 1967, Egypt and Syria took a number of steps which led Israel to believe that an Arab attack was imminent.
    Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt on June 5, 1967 and captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

    It is a “bit of a pretzel” but it is the one that Israel is selling.

    And…..the Palestinians were living on that “desert and rocks” for hundreds of years. The terrorism of the early Zionists forced them to leave for fear of their lives.

  25. larsman:

    Islam + ist = terrorist
    Zion + ist = terrorist

  26. iamjimbo says:

    Well said larsman. As usual, you provided facts and context.

  27. MarksonofDarwin says:


    The early Zionists welcomed the Arabs living in the region into their newly formed settlements on land that they purchased.

    Unless you are equating providing employment to the Arabs as “terrorism”.

  28. MoD – I have read nothing that supports the idea that the Arab-Palestinians either left voluntarily or were sold their lands. Perhaps some were

    Read about the Nakba – hen approximately 725,000 to 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it.. It would be a long commute to return for employment when one has been disposed to Lebanon…..

    And the Zionist Terrorist groups: the Stern Gang, Irgun, the Lehi – and to a lesser extent, the Haganah

    Provide some links and I will read them. I suspect the history of the region is very, very different depending upon whether the author is supportive of Israel or not.

    A rather extensive collection of quotes of some of the more influential leaders of the Zionist movement can be found here:

  29. larsman – you know, of course, that it was Mossad that created Hamas…

  30. In 1984, Ahmed Yassin was arrested and condemned to twelve years in prison, after the discovery of a hidden arms cache. But one year later, he was set free and resumed his activities. And when the Intifada (‘uprising’) began, in October 1987, which took the Islamists by surprise, Sheik Yassin responded by creating the Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement): “God is our beginning, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution”, proclaims article 7 of the charter of the organization.
    Quite unexpectedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Sheik Ahmed Yassin to be released from prison (“on humanitarian grounds”) where he was serving a life sentence. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, together with President Bill Clinton, was putting pressure on Arafat to control the Hamas. In fact, Netanyahu knew that he could rely, once more, on the Islamists to sabotage the Oslo accords. Worse still: after having expelled Yassin to Jordan, Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed him to return to Gaza, where he was welcomed triumphantly as a hero in October 1997.

    Gee…..why would Bibi keep letting this known terrorist out of jail and back into the country……..?

  31. iamjimbo says:

    “collection of quotes”???

    Are you now in favor of – “quoting edited sentences out of context” ?

    “Gotta love those ideologues – consistently changing their arguments in order to maintain a consistent ideological world view.”

  32. MarksonofDarwin says:

    When you said “early Zionists” I thought you were referring to the *actual* early Zionists….meaning those Jews who first settled what is now called Israel.

    On the land purchase and early good will between Jews and Arabs:

    “In a military biography of Moshe Dayan, the early Zionist activity is described this way:

    “Using Rothschild’s money, these Jews purchased land from absentee Turkish landlords. To the Arab tenant farmers, the transfer of land from Turkish to Jewish ownership was of little consequence since the Jews rehired them as agricultural workers.”

    As you can well imagine, it is nearly impossible to find an un-biased source regarding this subject. This site comes close, imo, and is so full of links, that if you have the time or inclination, you could spend the better part of a day reading about one aspect or another!


    And to answer you question regarding the mass exodus of Palestinians just prior to the 1948 war:

    “In Jerusalem, Arab riots broke out on November 30 and December 1 1947. Palestinian irregulars cut off the supply of food, water and fuel to Jerusalem during a long siege that began in late 1947. Fighting and violence broke out immediately throughout the country, including ambushes of transportation, the Jerusalem blockade, riots such as the Haifa refinery riots, and massacres that took place at Gush Etzion (by Palestinians) and in Deir Yassin (by Jews). Arab Palestinians began leaving their towns and villages to escape the fighting. Notably, most of the Arab population of Haifa left in March and April of 1948, despite pleas by both Jewish and British officials to stay.”

  33. Thanks MoD. I am saving those URLs and will review those pages.

    While I am guilty of this myself, the whole question of guilt and origins seems most often to be more about creating a rationale for one side or the other’s current belligerence and doesn’t really lead to a solution in the present. Pointing fingers at the other side leads to demonization which makes it so much easier to not treat people humanely.

    I do think that the one group that gets off scot-free when they were extremely culpable for the mess in the first place is the British… But that seems rather academic and, likewise, does nothing to solve the conflict.

  34. ij – if you spend some time at the site you will see that there is far more than quotes.

    Though there is an unavoidable bias in any material devoted to the I/P conflict, the editors made a worthy attempt at presenting the information fairly.

    Instead of ridiculing – go read it for yourself.

  35. In the current period, Israeli Document demonstrates that Gaza blockade was/is not about defense rather, collective punishment for electing Hamas.


    And, of course, there is the ever expanding Settlements that will make a true two-state solution difficult if not impossible.

  36. This site is fair and concise

    Divisive History

    History’s legacy created divisive issues between Palestinians and Israelis. Judea, home of the Jews in ancient times, was conquered by the Romans and renamed Palestine. Palestine was later conquered and inhabited by Arabs for over a thousand years. The Zionist movement arose to restore the Jews to Israel, largely ignoring the existing Arab population. Following the Balfour Declaration in 1917, Palestine was granted to Britain as a League of Nations mandate to build a national home for the Jewish people. The Arabs resented the Jews coming in to take their land. Led by Grand Mufti Hajj Amin El Husseini, they rioted repeatedly and later revolted, creating a history of enmity between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Britain stopped Jewish immigration to Palestine. Following the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, pressure on Britain increased to allow Jewish immigration to Palestine. In 1947, the UN partitioned the land into Arab and Jewish states. The Arabs did not accept the partition and war broke out. The Jews won a decisive victory, expanded their state and created several hundred thousand Palestinian refugees. The Arab states refused to recognize Israel or make peace with it. Wars broke out in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, and there were many terror raids and Israeli reprisals. Each side believes different versions of the same history. Each side views the conflict as wholly the fault of the other and expects an apology.

  37. An example of the idiocy that basing Israel’s right to existence upon the Bible leads to:


  38. MarksonofDarwin says:

    I agree bB, that many discussions devolve into “who did what, and when”.

    My purpose in bringing up the origins of Israel wasn’t to bolster my “rightness” about this subject. I just think many people (myself included) have been led to believe that Israel was created as a response to the Holocaust. This just isn’t true….Zionism began long before WWII, and even WWI.
    It started out relatively peaceful, but tensions have only increased over the years, and after many mis-steps by both sides.

    I find it fascinating just how wrong that particular version of history is…
    The revisionists are busy creating falsehoods out of whole cloth daily, it seems.
    And yes, Britain gets off scott free….but that’s because it doesn’t fit into anybody’s narrative.

    We have always found common ground on the subject of Israel’s illegal settlements.
    However, the Palestinian’s war tactics are abhorrent, and leave me cold and indifferent to their plight.

    Many times I’ve just thought we should just get it over with, and let them sort themselves out…..

  39. Until both sides can look at the other side and recognize their shared humanity rather than demons, as well as the mutual self-interest in finding a solution that benefits both sides, the killing will never end.

  40. On Aug 12th the Olympia Food Co-op Board and its members heard supporters loud and clear on the Co-op’s Forum on the Boycott of Israeli Goods. Thank you so much for making this a success. Out of the people who spoke 39 supported the boycott, 22 were against and 3 undecided. Speakers were eloquent, composed and described the Palestinian narrative. But the struggle is not over to keep the boycott of Israeli goods in place. The board is still under pressure to rescind the decision and the greater Olympia community is asked to weigh in.

    We ask you to take the following actions of support.
    Send Us Your Testimonies From the Co-op Forum

    We want to gather testimonies to demonstrate our diversity and strength. Please consider emailing us your testimony from the forum – whether you were able to read or not, we would love to be able to document all of the support that was shown that night. We are making history in Olympia and need to record this historic stand! Email your testimony to contact@olympiabds.org.
    Write a Letter to the Editor Today

    An article appearing in both the Olympian and News Tribune provides us supporters of Palestinian human rights and freedom with an ideal opportunity to educate the Olympia community and co-op membership through letters to the editor.

    Please write a letter to the Olympian (or News Tribune if you’ve recently had a letter in the Olympian) in response to this article about the Co-op boycott “debate” last Thursday at the Olympia Center. Email your letter of 250 words or less here, via the form on their website. Don’t forget to include your contact information. Please, don’t forget to bcc or otherwise send a copy of your letter to contact@olympiabds.org.
    Time to Take Action For it to be Most Effective

    Ideal: Submit your letter to the editor by Monday, August 23
    Still helpful: Submit your letter to the editor by Wednesday, August 25
    Suggestions for Talking Points

    1. Mention that more voices were supportive of the boycott than opposed (39 in favor; 22 opposed; 2 unclear)
    2. Israel is committing crimes against humanity in its ongoing, illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and perpetuation of an apartheid system. Massive Israeli violence against civilians has only increased in recent years. International pressure has proven insufficient to change Israeli policies.
    3. Boycott is a moral, nonviolent strategy for change. It is a campaign in which ordinary citizens throughout the world can make their voices heard.
    4. It is not effective to boycott only Israeli products from the illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, as the Israeli and settlement economies are completely integrated, and crimes against Palestinians occur within Israel as well as within the occupied territories.
    5. Boycott is not a form of punishment of the Israeli Jewish population; rather, it is consumers’ organized refusal to support the Israeli economy as long as Palestinians, both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, are subject to an all-encompassing system of discrimination.
    6. Include parts of your testimony from the 8/12 forum at the Olympia Center.
    7. If you are Jewish it is especially important to challenge the assumption of Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian that certain groups speaks for the South Sound Jewish Community. It’s actually very diverse and does not hold a monolithic view on Palestine and Israel or the boycott.
    8. Make a reference to the resources on the Olympia BDS site, such as the video statement by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb in support of the boycott, and the letter from Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Reference Phan Nguyen’s oped in The News Tribune.
    9. From Rochelle Gause’s email prior to the Olympia Center event:
    “The co-op has a specific boycott policy that we have been following to the tee for 2 years, a policy designed to help the co-op remain true to its mission statement of encouraging economic and social justice. Human rights abuses are happening daily, there are no words for the reality on the ground and we truly are responsible with our tax dollars, at the price tag of $940,000 from Olympia alone to Israel each year… The boards decision has not prevented any discussion, in fact, I believe it has started a much needed dialogue in our community.
    “Boycott has proven successful in so many situations in the past, from the Montgomery Bus boycott for civil rights, to the Grape boycott for farmworkers rights. And recently a South African delegation traveled to Palestine and returned calling for boycott of Israel saying some of the conditions they saw were worse than under South African apartheid. It is time to act!”

    Additional information

    * The Olympia BDS website
    * Why Boycott? From the Co-op website.
    * Steve Niva’s article about the co-op boycott.
    * Linda Frank’s letter to the editor in support of the boycott.
    * More letters on the subject
    * FAQ about boycott from IMEU, The Institute for Middle East Understanding
    * 2-page Olympia BDS flyer about boycott
    * And the Palestine Solidarity Seattle website page on boycott

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