The Jew And The Carrot

Park Slope Food Coop's BDS Battle

By Naomi Zeveloff

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Lana Gerson

The Park Slope Food Coop is finally inching closer to a resolution in a debate that seems to rival only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its intractability.

On March 27th, members of the Brooklyn food coop will meet in a nearby high school auditorium to decide whether or not to bring a ban on Israeli goods to a vote, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The debate over the boycott of Israeli goods began three years ago when an artist and filmmaker known as Hima B. presented the issue at a coop meeting, contending that tactics used to counter the South African apartheid regime should be used to fight Israel’s human rights violations.

Since then, the prospect of the boycott has roiled the coop, which caters to Jews from all over Brooklyn, and is known as a hub of progressive politics in the borough. Coop members for and against the boycott have organized in two groups: the Park Slope Food Coop Members for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and More Hummus, Please, which says that the boycott movement rejects Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. In recent weeks, the coop’s publication, the Linewaiter’s Gazette has been filled with missives surrounding the issue.

Coop meetings are typically held at Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim, but, expecting crowd of more than 1,000 people at the boycott referendum, the management opted for a more spacious venue in Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Technical High School.

Congregation Beth Elohim’s rabbi, Andy Bachman, has weighed in repeatedly against the boycott. In a blog post this week, Bachman commented on “what will be one of Park Slope’s great media sensations of the spring,” saying that the “boycott of Israel is the wrong strategy.”

“Even while seeing up close some of the difficult and painful consequences of the occupation, it remains clear to me that Jewish settlements are only half the problem —Palestinian intransigence with regard to direct negotiations are the other half,” wrote Bachman, who recently returned from a trip to Israel.

Bachman and More Hummus, Please have promoted an upcoming panel discussion on March 4th about the Mideast conflict with political philosopher Michael Walzer.

On a recent walk-through of the coop, manager Joe Holtz pointed out various Israeli goods on display for the Wall Street Journal reporter: seltzer, organic paprika, olive pesto and tapenade, organic paprika, and replacement cartridges.

Holtz said that he was concerned that BDS would cause the coop, the largest in the country, to lose members.


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