Jewish establishment-backed mayoral candidates rush to denounce Park Slope BDS effort

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 11 Comments
de Blasio
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.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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11 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    March 27, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Lotta people “pledge allegiance to Israel”. That’s what single-loyalty is all about. You can only have one liege lord at a time.

    $3B/yr for Israel but not a dime to combat global warming. (If you want to see some “warming”, get a look at the fires outside Denver (slide-show) and it’s not even summer yet. Been dry out there, dry. Lotta CO2 being added to all the rest.)

  2. RudyM
    March 27, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Not that long ago I used to think it didn’t matter if an elected official at the local level, a mayor in particular, were a Zionist. (I once voted for Sam Katz in Philadelphia, disgusted with the Street administration’s open corruption, and not amused by the mayor’s seeming cluelessness about certain issues.) Not any more.

  3. Annie Robbins
    March 27, 2012, 7:03 pm

    i’m wondering if you’re planning on attending tonight Alex. i’ll be checking your tweets.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    March 27, 2012, 7:03 pm

    RE: “The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC), a coordinating body for major Jewish organizations in New York…spends time, and a lot of money, bringing elected officials to Israel to tour the country, as Quinn recently did.” ~ Alex Kane

    FROM AIPAC’S WEBSITE (undated):

    African American Political Leaders and Activists Visit Israel

    A group of African American politicians, consultants and activists arrived in Israel this week to participate in an American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) Seminar. The group of 18 includes eight state and local elected officials and three appointed government officials, including the presidents of the city councils of Atlanta and Detroit. The other participants are all deeply involved in political and civic life in their communities, including five who are co-chairs for the DNC’s Generation44 fundraising initiative in their cities. A number of the seminar participants have already attended pro-Israel events in their communities and have shown interest in strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May passed Iranian divestment resolutions in their jurisdictions in 2009.

    SOURCE –

  5. yourstruly
    March 27, 2012, 7:42 pm

    how many times can israel firsters such as these candidates play the antisemitic card before people say “play that card once more and I’ll show you what antisemitism really is?” An outcome which would please Israel firsters, convinced as they are that the way to resolve the Israel’s “demographic problem” is to do whatever it takes to stir up so virulent a form of antisemitism in America that Jewish-Americans will decide to pack up and move to Israel. Except it ain’t gonna work, Israel firsters, being that there are
    more than enough of us Jewish-Americans who are on to your game and will call your bluff by exposing you for the traitors that you are. Palestine for the Palestinians and however many Jews decide to remain there as equals among equals. Afterwards those of you who were in government can look forward to being put on trial for having served the interests of a foreign entity –

    “members of the jury, on the charge of serving the interests of the Zionist entity Israel, how do you find the defendents?

    “Guilty as charged, your honor

  6. Les
    March 27, 2012, 8:56 pm

    An otherwise nonentity umbrella organization gets its name in the news for endorsing the Bloomberg-Kelly hunter for Muslims a few days ago and now this demand that everyone support Israel’s occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Quinn, who helped Bloomberg get the law changed so he could run a third time, along with the usual suspects Stringer and Del Blasio, are examples of how pathetic New York City’s political “leaders” actually are.

  7. piotr
    March 27, 2012, 10:02 pm

    Perhaps his Honor Mayor of New York city is also concerned about the Wrath of God descending at the metropolis, would BDS movement have any degree of success?

    “There is no doubt the New Orleans flood from the Katrina hurricane was God’s punishment for evicting the settlements,” said [rav Dovid Meir] Druckman, “with hundreds of thousands left homeless, hundreds killed or wounded and billions of dollars sent down the drain – can we really ignore God’s hand collecting an eye for an eye?”

  8. Annie Robbins
    March 27, 2012, 10:34 pm

    Brooklyn Co-Op votes down Israel boycott referendum
    03/28/2012 04:08
    Members of the Park Slope Food Co-Op voted down a proposed referendum to ban Israeli foods by a landslide, with 1005 voting against and 653 voting for it.

    The local food fight drew international attention on Tuesday and senior New York politicians lined up to weigh in on the debate.

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn were among those who came out strongly against the boycott.

    • Krauss
      March 28, 2012, 8:06 am

      This is why this was always going to be much harder than with South Africa. There was no Afrikaaner lobby in the U.S.

      They didn’t have major political figures like billionaire Bloomberg on their side, or Seth Klarman, or entire political streams dedicated to them(like the Neocons is mostly about Israel and then added with a few mashed-up neoliberal domestic policies).

      This will take time. BDS has to be judged in context, not against the near-oppositionless forces that the anti-Apartheid movement faced in the 70s and the 80s.

      Even Congress voted for boycotts in the mid-80s, something Reagan vetoed.
      Can you imagine even getting 5 votes in the House on this issue?

      People need perspective and patience. The Park Slope effort is the kind of effort we need. We need a progressive critical mass first. Do this again in just a few months. Do it in lots of other places. Once the progressive grassroots are taken, then continue to new places. The politicial establishment is always reacting to last year’s powerstructures.

  9. Les
    March 28, 2012, 9:54 am

    The open mayoral seat attracts candidates like rotten fruit attracts fruit flies, candidates who have about as much diversity as fruit flies.

  10. LanceThruster
    March 28, 2012, 1:08 pm

    US politics from the inside —


    Twenty-five years ago I stared into the eyes of Michael Berman, chief operative for his congressman-brother, Howard Berman. I was a neophyte running for the California Assembly in a district that the Bermans claimed belonged to them.

    “I represent the Israeli defense forces,” Michael said. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Michael seemed to imagine himself the gatekeeper protecting Los Angeles’ Westside for Israel’s political interests, and those of the famous Berman-Waxman machine. Since Jews represented one-third of the Democratic district’s primary voters, Berman held a balance of power.

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