A recent lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op for boycotting Israeli goods has strangely made Olympia, Washington, the site of the first anti-BDS lawsuit since the Israeli government passed its anti-BDS law.
Although the official plaintiffs of the lawsuit are five Olympia residents, investigations by Ali Abunimah (here) and Richard Silverstein (here and here) have uncovered evidence linking the lawsuit to Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor and the pro-Israel group StandWithUs.
On Nov. 4, 2010, Akiva Tor was interviewed on Seattle conservative talk radio. On the air, Tor accused the Olympia Food Co-op boycott of being the work of outsiders:
“I think that people [in Olympia] feel that a foreign agenda, an unfair agenda, a doctrinaire agenda, has been imposed on them from outside, and they’re suffering. They’re suffering through it, and it’s a terrible thing.”
Tor then explained that steps would be taken to fight back:
“It’s an awful thing, and when we find ourselves on the end of it, we have to respond....There is an organization, StandWithUs, which is very concerned and working hard on it.”
According to StandWithUs meeting minutes, Tor arrived in Olympia on March 10, 2011, where he gathered with StandWithUs co-chairs Rob Jacobs and Carolyn Hathaway, along with attorney Avi Lipman. None of these individuals lived in Olympia, but they had converged there to meet with unnamed “Olympia activists.” Meeting minutes state that a “legal presentation” was given at the meeting.
Lipman, who is one of the attorneys in the lawsuit, refused to tell Abunimah what occurred at the March 10 meeting, citing attorney-client privilege, and thus confirming that some of those unnamed “Olympia activists” were or would soon be his clients.
StandWithUs executive committee meeting minutes additionally refer to the “law suit [sic] against the Olympia Food Co-op” [sic] as a StandWithUs “project.”
And so it transpires: A representative of the Israeli government coordinates with an Israel advocacy group based in Seattle, and that leads to a lawsuit against Olympia’s only food cooperative—in order to save Olympia from a “foreign agenda...imposed on them from outside.”
Curiously, though, the defendants named in the lawsuit are local residents.