New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (Photo: Maxine Dovere/The Algemeiner)
The campaign to boycott Israeli products at Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Co-op takes a big step tonight, with members set to vote on whether to hold a referendum on the boycott question. And as Matthew Taylor notes here, the city’s leading officials have raced to see who can make the most hyperbolic claim about what the boycott movement represents (Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man who flew into Israel just as the brutal assault on Gaza was getting underway, wins with his “massacre” line).
An important backdrop to the story is the upcoming mayoral race in 2013. As the New York Times notes, the top officials who have come out against the boycott--Christine Quinn, Scott Stringer and Bill de Blasio--are all likely candidates for mayor.
De Blasio is known as a progressive in city politics--but he hits the same note on the boycott that his establishment-backed mayoral rival Quinn does. This is because the continued backing of the Jewish establishment is important for all these candidates’ campaigns, and coming out strongly against the boycott efforts is one way to show off your Israel advocate credentials. You can’t be mayor of New York without those credentials, it seems.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), a coordinating body for major Jewish organizations in New York, must be happy. It spends time, and a lot of money, bringing elected officials to Israel to tour the country, as Quinn recently did. De Blasio and Stringer frequently show up to JCRC-organized events. And the JCRC has been actively fighting against the Park Slope BDS effort by advising the “More Hummus, Please” anti-BDS group that has formed within the Co-Op on how to get their message out. The JCRC is also part of the Israel Action Network, the $6 million initiative created at the urging of the Israeli government that aims to combat BDS efforts.
No wonder the boycott efforts have run into heavy opposition. But at least Jodi Rudoren, the incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, gets the absurdity of the situation. She tweeted a link to the Times article detailing city officials’ opposition to the boycott, and quipped, “mayor, would be mayors pledge allegiance to Israel.”
We’ll see tonight if the powerful opposition works.