Park Slope Food Co-op To Vote on Israeli Food Boycott Tuesday

March 26, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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PARK SLOPE — A controversy that's been brewing for half a decade at the Park Slope Food Co-op will either get an official brush-off Tuesday night or else it will begin to grow louder.

Members of Brooklyn’s most popular co-op will vote at Tuesday's meeting on whether to hold a referendum on a proposal to ban all Israeli-made products from their store’s shelves, according to the New York Post.

If the referendum is approved, the co-op’s 16,000 members will settle the issue by mail-ballot in the coming months. If it’s rejected, shelf space for Israeli-made paprika, bath salts and make-your-own-seltzer machines will be secure.

The co-op is expecting such a huge turnout for the divisive vote that it’s moved the location of its monthly meeting — usually held at a small, local synagogue — to a 3,000-seat auditorium at Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene.

The boycott’s backers proposed the referendum in solidarity with BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanction), an international effort to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Co-op members' strident debate over the proposal has brimmed over into the public sphere, eliciting responses from prominent pols, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

At Sunday’s Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Parade, Bloomberg reportedly told the Post, “These are businesses that should be run as businesses. I certainly am adamantly opposed to boycotting Israeli products . . . Israel is a very important ally of America. We shouldn’t forget that.”

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has also weighed in against the boycott and BDS, saying in a statement, “The inflammatory proposal to boycott products from the state of Israel is wrongheaded and an affront to American values and interests. This movement—nationally and internationally—is a destructive force that must be stopped. It undermines America’s relationship with our steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and our strongest ally in the Middle East.”

According to the BDS website, the international effort aims to impose broad boycotts, divestment initiatives and other non-violent punitive measures on Israel until the country “meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination” and corrects alleged violations of international law.

Tuesday's meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place.

— Eli MacKinnon
Brooklyn Daily Eagle


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