Is hummus an "Israeli good"?
There’s a phenomenon that I have at times witnessed which continues to shock me though it should not: individual Jews exploiting the fears and insecurities of other Jews in order to garner their support for an agenda that they otherwise would not be so supportive of.
Such is the case with a recent Ha’aretz report by Barak Ravid. Ravid warns his readers that
An intensive delegitimization campaign is taking place in cities across the United States—on university campuses, at malls and in front of Israel consulates.
Well sure, we’ve heard about it before. That’s the thing they call the BDS, right? But wait:
The campaign is not aimed at the settlement enterprise, or against the occupation and the humiliation of millions of Palestinians at checkpoints, but rather the campaign is against the very existence of the State of Israel, and promoting a boycott of anything that might even smell Israeli.
One example is the story of “Park Slope Food Co-op,” a Jewish supermarket located in Brooklyn, situated in one of the most “Jewish” areas in the United States. Every week, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists assemble near the entrance, where one can purchase Israeli goods, and call for a general boycott of the store.
Truly frightening, especially since it’s so untrue. How shall we parse this?
1. The Park Slope Food Co-op is not a “Jewish supermarket.” It is a food cooperative open to everyone who joins as a working member. It is not explicitly marketed toward Jews, and there is nothing distinctly Jewish about it (as some of the Christmas-themed products currently on the shelves will attest to).
2. “Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists” do not “assemble near the entrance” every week. Ravid is possibly referring to the one or two people who leaflet outside the Co-op every now and then.
3. Moreover these leafleters are not “call[ing] for a general boycott of the store” but instead calling for a member referendum on whether the Co-op should honor the Palestinian BDS call.
4. The Hebrew version of Ravid’s article reports the same thing but includes this additional lie:
…where one can purchase Israeli goods such as Bamba, Milky, and hummus…
I have never seen Bamba or Milky at the Co-op, and hummus is not an “Israeli good.”
So how did Ravid come up with this story? Most likely he coordinated with Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli Minister of “Information,” whom Ravid quotes in the same article. Edelstein and his entourage visited the Park Slope Food Co-op last week, along with StandWithUs regional coordinator Avi Posnick, who has been tasked with taking down the Co-op.
Richard Silverstein has the scoop on that story on his blog. (Disclosure: I assisted Richard with the story.)
Finally, Ravid claims that the BDS campaign has nothing to do with supporting human rights and equality for Palestinians. Instead, it is motivated by hatred for Israel and is “promoting a boycott of anything that might even smell Israeli.” Since his sole example turns out to be a complete fabrication, we can dismiss this argument as well.
But we should note how often this type of argument is made, and we should understand the racist assumption behind this thinking. The assumption is that those who fight for Palestinian human rights are disingenuous because Palestinians aren’t human beings and aren’t worth fighting for. Thus the only possible motivation for criticizing Israel for its treatment of Palestinians is hatred of Jews.
Both Ha’aretz and Barak Ravid owe the literate world an apology.