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Park Slope Food Coop holds vote aimed at staunching boycott of Sodastream

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The Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn has been a focus of boycott activism targeting Israeli goods since 2011. Those efforts have so far failed to convince that progressive community, now 43 years old, to boycott Israeli products, but tonight there’s another vote on the question aimed at defusing boycott activism.

A Coop board member has put forward a motion to require a 75 percent vote in favor of boycott measures. This motion does not mention Israel, but it is clearly aimed at preempting a proposal first put forward last spring that the Coop boycott Sodastream products because they are made in part in facilities in the occupied West Bank. Traditionally, the Coop has voted on political questions such as boycott with an up-and-down vote.

The Coop has never voted on that Sodastream proposal of eight months’ standing. I’m told that the leadership has begged off, saying that it can’t find a space to house such a discussion. But they did find a space big enough to house tonight’s meeting.

Only Coop members are allowed in to tonight’s meeting. The sponsor of the rule, Jesse Rosenfeld, the secretary of the Coop, says that the 75 percent threshhold would end “division and hostility.” As if such a bureaucratic dodge is going to allow a forward-thinking community to avoid the Israeli occupation.

Here’s the latest issue of the Linewaiters’ Gazette, which includes a lot of debate over Israel boycott initiatives.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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40 Responses

  1. MaxNarr on January 26, 2016, 9:08 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the staunch supporters of human rights and the enemies of collective punishment. The Park Slope BDS just like the rocket threat, will be defeated.

    • annie on January 26, 2016, 11:53 pm

      more like ‘will be defeated come high or highwater!’

      i highly recommend everyone open and read the letters to the editor on the linewaiter’s gazette, phil’s last link. anti anti boycotters have quite the propaganda message of themselves as being the “cooperators” vs the pro bsd as being the “divisives” the same hasbara as on campuses.

      meanwhile , the Secretary to the General Meeting, Member Board of Directors wimp and coward jesse rosenfeld, has perfected this anti logic in his letter to the editor:

      while 51% is a majority it is not the solidarity so crucial to maintaining a cooperative. Codifying the boycott policy at 75% moves us closer to speaking with one voice to the world.

      what an anti democratic lying coward. if he’s so hot to apply a 75% rule, to “move us closer to speaking with one voice” he could apply this standard to the side he’s on, demanding they garner 75% of the vote to defeat a boycott once and for all! instead, he’s giving his side a 25 pt lead! how on earth could this represent ” solidarity so crucial to maintaining a cooperative.”

      it’s cheating the vote. even the senate has the 2/3 rule for overcoming a presidential veto. he wants 3/4!!! and he’s too much of a wimp to put it on a ballot to the full membership even tho a full membership ballot is going to me mailed out for the new board members in the coming months!

      he’s too afraid of what the results of a secret ballot of full membership might be and would rather limit it to a general meeting, in which only 3% of members attend.

      talk about divisive! requiring his ideological opponents (who could be more than 50% of members) accept this? and it’s a farce too because if he lost there’s no way he’d say there was ‘unity’ and everyone was speaking in one voice — not if it wasn’t his voice — if it was 49% of coop members who didn’t want a boycott.

      • druid on January 27, 2016, 11:45 am

        Jesse: Good Jewish fascist!

    • eljay on January 27, 2016, 9:21 am

      || MaxNarr: Our thoughts and prayers are with the staunch supporters of human rights and the enemies of collective punishment. … ||

      I’m glad to see that you’ve finally abandoned Zio-supremacism.

      • MaxNarr on January 27, 2016, 11:16 am

        What’s a ziosupreme? Is that like a new catchphrase? how do you pronounce it?

      • eljay on January 27, 2016, 12:16 pm

        || MaxNarr: What’s a ziosupreme? … ||

        Yeah, that wasn’t funny the first time either.

      • Mooser on January 27, 2016, 12:19 pm

        “MaxNarr” are you a young person who is not very smart, to put it mildly, and has severe character defects, or are you old, and well, ‘not all there’ anymore?

        Sure make it easier to deal with you if you tell us. The idea of virtually kicking an emotionally disabled or aged person is not very comfortable. Is that what we are doing?

      • talknic on January 27, 2016, 3:48 pm

        @ MaxNarr “What’s a ziosupreme?”

        It comes with lashings of the Ziotoxins favoured by Ziocreeps, washed down with bile and an endless array nonsensical excuses specifically formulated for serial abusers, morons and the extremely gullible

        “Is that like a new catchphrase?”

        No. It dates back to 1897 and the Zionist Federation’s pyramid scheme of a Greater Israel

        “how do you pronounce it?”

        It becomes more pronounced when it’s promoted it with lies, complete bullsh*t, deception and a lot of money from war mongers and really stupid people

    • K Renner on January 29, 2016, 9:53 pm

      ” Our thoughts and prayers are with the staunch supporters of human rights”

      As I don’t get things ass-backwards or in general try to turn reality on its head, as you do– I agree, in the sense that my thoughts and prayers are with the supporters of Palestinian rights in this instance.

      It’s beyond dispute that products from illegal “settlements” should be boycotted and belong in the garbage.

      ” and the enemies of collective punishment”

      The irony in you making a statement like this is thick and sickening– and the best part of all is that you’re simply too thick to see what’s ironic about what you just said there.

      Truly, your brand of Zionism above all is indicative of a severe mental disorder.

      ” The Park Slope BDS just like the rocket threat, will be defeated.”

      Meaningless, foolish rhetoric.

      Israel hasn’t “defeated” any “threats”. As is the case for the so-called “Jewish state”, all it and the pro-Israel “diaspora” have done is given more cause to the Palestinians to continue resisting or engaging in violent response in turn to Israeli actions. Israelis and the “diaspora” only end up looking more morally bankrupt and indeed sicker in the context of Israel Palestine as you continue to do what you do– collectively throwing yourselves off the cliff while wailing and weeping about “anti-Semitism” and “being hated for no reason”.

      I applaud you, MaxNarr, for being the instrument of your own undoing. Congratulations.

  2. JustJessetr on January 26, 2016, 10:34 pm

    And this was the winning speech. The proposal to change the Rules of the General Meeting, as so noted by the Chair Committee in an open vote, was approved at 294-YES, and 192-NO.

    *******************************

    My name is Jesse Rosenfeld. Secretary of the Coop and Member of the Board of Directors.

    I joined the Coop because I liked the word. Cooperative. It just rang true with me. I liked the idea of pitching in while meeting my neighbors. We all hope for an end one day to long lines and the incomprehensible two-step checkout process. Still most people say, “I love the coop. I love it here.” I shop several times a week, I’ve become a pretty good cook and I’ve made friends with people I wouldn’t normally meet discussing subjects I wouldn’t normally encounter. Everyday I see someone on the street from the PSFC so the community I find here is not an abstract. People, I am making an effort tonight because we all love this place. We all work together and we want to see it thrive.

    Which brings us to tonight’s proposal. Our boycott policy isn’t about what we boycott anymore. It’s about how we’ll use it going forward to demonstrate unmistakable cooperation. Right now, the guidelines are too vague, as in: not actually spelled out in a hard number. It’s only implied, and until now unquestioned, that enacting a boycott needs 51% of all the votes to pass. This has bred an unintentional split-down-the-middle mindset when discussing contentious boycotts. Which is not good for the Coop. Going forward we want unity in addressing injustice, we want harmonious General Meetings surrounding boycotts, and to heal feelings of persecution in the hearts of our members. We want to drain the strength from poison-pen dueling so that Gazette editors will be released from working far in excess of their standard 2 and ¾ hour shifts. We want to give staff and the General Coordinators breathing room again to focus on operational improvements instead of dealing with the ramifications of boycott discussions and proposals. We musn’t let this vague, unwritten policy continue to overshadow the cooperative principles that are central to our operations.

    For example:

    ONE: Our Mission Statement says: as members, we contribute our labor: working together builds trust through cooperation and teamwork…We are committed to diversity and equality. We oppose discrimination in any form. We strive to make the Coop welcoming and accessible to all and to respect the opinions, needs and concerns of every member.

    TWO: The First International Principle of Cooperation reads: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

    What all this means is that no political litmus test should exist in any cooperative other than whether they are cooperating by fulfilling membership responsibilities. But this raises a few sticky questions: How can we fulfill the part of our mission where we welcome all of our members regardless of political opinion? How can we maintain diversity? And how has the Coop taken positions on boycotts without alienating the members who disagree with the boycott? The answer is that all of our present boycotts have been uncontroversial. Chilean Grapes, Coca-Cola, Nestle, all have passed with an overwhelming majority, and no one was offended or made to feel discriminated against along the way. 11 out of 13 boycotts in the last 25 years have been at 90% and the other two were at 80%. We found the sweet spot. 80 and 90 percent! That shows solidarity, not a virtual 50-50 split. Tonight, we can join together and fix this oversight in our Boycott Policy.

    Codifying the number at 75% to pass the vote, up from the unwritten 51%, further girds our foundation of cooperation. 51% is not solidarity! 75% is, or at least a lot closer to true solidarity. Our organization is open to anyone regardless of their political affiliations, but 51% leaves it wide open to anyone who will say anything to get the ball over the 50-yard line. To avoid that going forward we must strengthen the most precious bond we have: Trust. A cooperative such as ours requires almost blind trust in each other because we accept anyone willing to pull their own weight. With 75% we embrace alternative viewpoints and we encourage movement towards cooperation across political lines. It breaks my heart to witness the divisiveness surrounding boycotts month after month, year after year, and it should stop now.

    With all of our boycotts passing so far at 80 or 90 percent, and the unwritten boycott policy at present at 51%, a good compromise is 75%. The Coop presents many vibrant platforms for new ideas. All that’s expected in return is overwhelming agreement for a boycott. It should take a quite a lot of effort to speak in everyone’s name. It should be as close to mathematical everyone as possible because solidarity demands real understanding of what membership thinks . 1% past 50 doesn’t do that. 75% is both majority rule and cooperative, making sure we don’t boycott something in a way that could wind up offending a huge section of membership. Boycotts with overwhelming support will counter the distaste people have expressed for reading the Gazette, our public unifying resource. A supermajority will encourage people to return to attending GM’s on a regular basis. Our true solidarity will attract the 2500 more members per year we need to replace the ones that leave. And we’ll avoid potential erosion of 49% of our membership who wouldn’t want to be seen by an onlooker as supporting any future highly controversial boycott.

    Our operations and stability are more important than any boycott. There is much more that unites us than divides us. Whether you see us as your community, your business, or your family, if we want the coop to thrive, the cooperative comes first. The boycott policy must be codified at 75%. Otherwise, we will look at each other one day and realize that something quite precious has been lost.

    My name is Jesse Rosenfeld. I stand as pro-Coop. Vote Yes for 75%, yes for solidarity, yes for cooperation.

  3. niass2 on January 26, 2016, 11:21 pm

    are they a bunch of Birkenstock wearing Klinton supporters? Good grief, out here in Lexington we’d be speaking English if they had been in charge. New York City progressives, who cares actually, they don’t live in the real world anyways. They should eat pesticide. their food coop isn’t doing them much good anyways. That’s for people who like overpriced organic food…They are called Yuppies. maybe they will live fifteen minutes longer by not buying food at Stop and Shop. Who drinks Soda anyways, what is this, 8th grade? The food they buy in NYC can be had in Maine for 50% the price. Escape from NY time for them. They are not progressive. In what way are they, do they eat tofu and do Yoga. Do they snort wheat grass? Seriously, a modern normal group of people wouldn’t be censoring themselves. These people take the cake for self importance. Food coop, that’s something only in NY would people be pro Israel and pro obfuscation and act like were all in this together so we should just be quiet. They are stooges of a foreign land, not progressives. Its a meaningless word. They progressively steal land. . Get your own food, you “Progressives” ! and legalize it already. Progresso soup is too salty. When the electric grid goes down, we’ll see who is progressive and who is a violent psychopath.

    • annie on January 27, 2016, 12:37 am

      niass, here’s how ‘progressive’ at least one anti boycott members of their coop is. from the gazette letters to the editors (and yes, this letter made the grade):

      A SUGGESTION FOR THE NEW YEAR ABOUT BDS GAZETTE LETTERS TO THE EDITORS AND MEMBERS:
      In the name of “free speech” the Gazette continues to publish both pro- and anti-BDS letters. Both viewpoints are always represented in each issue, so that the Letters section appears to reflect democratic “fair and balanced” reporting.

      Pro-BDS letter writers routinely repeat vitriolic, non-specific accusations against Israel based on distorted facts. Anti-BDS writers protest and attempt to correct those distortions with factual information. Members filling their work slots as editors cannot be expected always to distinguish truth from hateful fabrications, nor to undertake the kind of research required to do so.

      In the last issue, for example, a devoted BDS enthusiast made vacuous, non-specific, ominous accusations without factual context, including “Israel’s persecution of Palestinians,” its “48-year military occupation of Palestine,” its “military’s killing” of Gazan Palestinians,” and so forth. There was also a reference to SodaStream’s “using displaced Palestinian Bedouin workers.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it was 48 years ago, in 1967, after having been attacked repeatedly by terrorists and then by military forces, that Israeli forces responded by taking control of various areas in selfdefense. There has never been a country or state of Palestine, or, therefore, any so-called “occupation” of such a country’s land. No mention was made (in that letter or ever in others) of repeated rejection of Israel’s peace offers or of years of ongoing terrorists’ attacks and killings of Israeli citizens that continue today. As for the reference to SodaStream’s “displaced Palestinian Bedouin workers,” I have no idea what that means. In its new location 30% of SodaStream’s employees are from the nearby Bedouin town of Rahat.

      Question for Members: What would happen if all of us who have been protesting BDS and their hateful claims in the Gazette stop doing so? We can be certain that BDSers will continue submitting their usual letters and articles into eternity.

      Question for Editors: In that case, if no anti-BDS letters are submitted, what would you do? Would you continue publishing only pro-BDS letters, knowing how such “unbalanced reporting” would look—to Coop members, the community, the media, and interested social, religious, and legal organizations? What might happen to PSFC’s reputation if all Gazette letters about Israel bashed the only Jewish state in the world?

      Suggestion for all anti-BDS letter writers: Let’s stop submitting those letters, and find out what happens. Maybe we’ll want to write letters about food instead—or maybe we could just get on with our lives without this ongoing stress.

      Please consider it.
      Ruth Bolletino

      a PEP — progressive except for palestine.

  4. Ismail on January 27, 2016, 12:18 am

    The “divisive and hostile” objection to Palestinian solidarity efforts like BDS have become the hoariest trope of desperate Zionist apologetics.

    A friend of mine belongs to a Reconstructionist congregation whose members observe a polite silence amongst themselves re Palestine /Israel lest the sweet bonds of brotherhood they enjoy be riven by…different opinions. Some fellowship, that can’t endure dissent. I mean, guys, you’re not some starched WASP family whose scary fissures are just barely held in check by denial and alcohol, right?

    If you want to savor a good, self-righteous fit of nausea, search for a Stand With Us video called something like “Why BDS Scars Don’t Heal”, a smarmy little slice of agitprop detailing the woes that befell the pro-injustice community when the satanically devious agents of BDS descended upon Olympia, Washington’s Food Co-op to sow their seeds of discord among the happily Edenic folks. Much sighing and weeping about long-term friendships dashed on the shoals of those pesky demands for decency towards an occupied people. How perfectly awful! Cynical BDSers, looking for a happy pack of friends to tear apart and then moving on, atop their camels with scimitars held high, once their damage was done.

    Grow up. You can’t handle some of your friends thinking differently from you? Threatened in the absence of unanimity?

    Go be Amish, then, and stop whining.

  5. HB on January 27, 2016, 12:13 pm

    There were tons of egregious ways that the chair of the General Meeting conducted the supermajority vote. Even she voiced her opinion that the changes that Rosenfeld proposed were changes to the bylaws, which if they are require a 2/3 vote to be passed and must be publicized to the members. She only heard one motion to table the vote and refused to listen to any others. She also refused to allow any amendments to the proposal. One member complained that when she tried to pre-register to attend the GM for work credit, she was told that they stopped taking any more work credits but that she could still attend. I’m sure that turned away many members who wanted to vote but were given the mixed message that they would not be able to attend the GM. One of the chair members also challenged the undemocratic nature of this vote and was shut down while Gen’l Coordinator Joe Holtz had far too much time to express his position in advocating for this supermajority vote–he’s abused his position as a co-founder many times and has gone out of his way to block a democratic process for voting on BDS or any Israeli boycotts. We have most definitely entered an era of McCarthyism at the Food Coop and beyond and the people on the hit list are pro-BDS supporters.

    • annie on January 27, 2016, 12:45 pm

      do you mean jesse rosenfeld is a she? or is “chair of the General Meeting” someone else? because i have read a few of rosenfeld’s past letters in the gazette, and what a bunch of orwellian manipulative hogwash. or is it someone else? i also watcehd some videos of holtz yesterday. it seemed as tho he gave off this persona of being all about community but at the same time seemed like he was the top dog – kind of in a gentler image but control freak none the less.

      but the offense of labeling their side as “cooperative” (implying to represent “coop” and good guys) when it seems completely clear they will NOT even consider cooperating with a democratic process — they will not allow this boycott no matter how many wanted it. and let’s face it, the only way to get a true reading of thousands upon thousands of members over an issue that can get you branded for life — and threatened — is on a secret ballot. especially in a place like nyc.

      i think it would not be a bad idea for someone to start and alternate co op in slope park. i know it may seem unfathomable, but if i were being stone walled like this under some guise of fairness, i would organize a mass departure of members. the only problem is where would you get your food? but you can order so much of this in bulk and it sounds like the members have the experience to run the place. it’s just the seed money to get started. it’s a shame really. but how can they come off as ethical by profiting off the suffering of others? or pretend they are diverse when they don’t recognize palestinians as people too. so sad. i’d walk out.

      • Carol Lipton on February 4, 2016, 12:06 am

        No. This comment refers to the woman who was the meeting moderator. She was incredibly rude to the elderly women from the Park Slope BDS contingent. One of them had difficulty approaching the mic, and could barely make her voice heard. She was dealt with dismissively and told to sit down. The chair at first agreed that Jesse’s proposal constituted a change to the Bylaws, which required advance notice to all members of such, and a 2/3 majority to pass. She then reversed her opinion after Joe Holtz got to speak. At no time did the Coop solicit legal opinion letters from its attorneys or other independent specialists in non-profit law.

        I was one of the people who spoke. We were limited to 2 minutes. Anti-BDS people went over 2 min., but when a pro BDS speaker did this, the microphone was turned off on her. Then the Chair cut down the speaking time for people to 1 min. 30 seconds.

        Jesse Rosenfeld had about 8 minutes to speak, as he did at 2 prior GMs I attended.

        I was thinking about just this all week- how can I in good conscience continue to be part of an organization of deluded, narcissistic yuppies, who wave the banner of human rights, egalitarianism and democracy while supporting a horrendously brutal occupation that saturation-bombed Gaza with more ordnance than was dropped on Hiroshima and slaughtered 2300 people ostensibly as vengeance over the deaths of 3 Israeli teenagers.

        Park Slope became the neighborhood it is today because in the 80s, thousands of people, mostly black, Hispanic as well as a lot of elderly people of all races, were forcibly evicted or harassed out of their homes. Park Slope itself is a settler colonial community- a land grab of affluent, educated whites, many of them Jewish, who had been loosely in the antiwar movement in the 60s and 70s.

        The entire community was made possible by a steady wave of evictions in the 80s. I know some of the lawyers who were involved in this. Interestingly, many of the actual progressives and radicals who relocated to NYC moved to either Ditmas Park, Midwood, or Windsor Terrace, neighborhoods that were already white, rather than participate in the displacement of yet more people of color. But this is lost on the people in the Coop.

        Numerous letters to the editor had been claiming that boycotts are antithetical to our tradition, exhibiting political amnesia. I attempted to set the record straight with a letter to the Gazette last June. My editor, Carey, claiming that my letter was completely unsubstantiated, demanded that I provide footnotes. So I spent 8 hours meticulously researching my points and re-submitted the letter, only to have her co-editor, Eric Lewis, tell me that the footnotes were totally unnecessary except for 2 of them. He called me at 11:30 am, during my work day, asking me if I “had a minute”. He proceeded to go line by line through my letter, deleting much of it as being too “inflammatory”.

        The next letter I wrote was never acknowledged and never ran. Then the Coop put a freeze on letters mentioning BDS for 6 months. I resubmitted the letter and Carey is now refusing to run it- are you ready – because it is “not timely”.

        And it gets better- the same person who accused me of making unsubstantiated statements, now commented that while I included robust situation to reports (of SodaStream’s violations), that it came off like a “canned letter” (read: “Palestinian dupe”) and that I had “nothing original to add”.

        The letter had been written in response to Barbara Mazor’s June 11 letter to the Gazette, accusing BDS supporters of failing to cite any reports with actual findings that Soda Stream’s policies were problematic. So I spent another 8 hours finding all of the major human rights reports on Soda Stream and footnoted them, in order to show that anti-BDS people are coming up with bogus arguments, and to establish the integrity of BDS advocates as well as inform and educate the members.

        I have demanded that Carey run my letter. She is adamantly refusing to do so. I am so frustrated and burned out dealing with them and their passive-aggressive bullshit.

        I think the Coop should drop all pretenses of being progressive and merge with Costco, so members will no longer have to worry that we’re about anything other than cheap organic food.

  6. Morgamax on January 27, 2016, 3:22 pm

    Sodastream left the West Bank, closing their facility permanently in 2015.

    • echinococcus on January 29, 2016, 11:09 am

      So what? If they are in official “Israel” they are still on occupied Palestinian land and must be boycotted. Shoo.

  7. Naomi Brussel on January 28, 2016, 10:34 am

    Correction to article. The first attempt to discuss the Park Slope Food Coop boycotting Israeli goods was in January of 2009 during the attack on Gaza when more than 1400 Palestinians were killed.
    What happened at the January 2016 meeting was a travesty of democratic procedure. The chairwoman prevented all but one motion to table the 75% supermajority proposal from being presented. She refused to take amendments to the proposal. She first acknowledged that the supermajority proposal is an amendment to the By-Laws of the Coop and thus needs a 2/3 majority to pass. During the balloting , which was quite a chaotic process, with ample opportunity for vote fraud, she caucused with members of the chairing committee and the Board of Directors. She then reversed her decision that this proposal amends the By-Laws and decided that it needed only a majority vote.
    The vote count was 294 to 192 in favor of the proposal. That is a little more than 60%,, not the 67% needed to amend the By-Laws. So the Park Slope Food Coop BDS group is considering our options for redress. It may mean we need a law-suit, since the coop structure does not offer a procedure to overturn the incorrect decisions of the chairperson.

    • HarryLaw on January 29, 2016, 10:32 am

      Naomi Brussel. It may mean we need a law-suit, Go for it. That would be the first thing they would do in similar circumstances.

    • annie on January 29, 2016, 10:41 am

      naomi, have you contacted palestine legal or ccr?

    • Carol Lipton on February 4, 2016, 12:13 am

      Thanks, Naomi, for the correction. Ann Schneider and I were the members who wrote to the Gazette in February 2009 calling for the Coop to vote for BDS.

      I support the efforts to consider a lawsuit. I know of one NLG attorney who is a specialist in non-profit law.

      Everyone is so fed up with things and I for one feel that Jesse and company have checkmated us, leaving no options other than a lawsuit. After all, if the Gazette continues to selectively exclude many of our letters, and the BDS Power Point presentation was shot down, how could we ever communicate with members? All avenues are blocked other than leafletting.

      I wish we had a pile of money to publish a fake Llinewaiters Gazette similar to the fake NY Times.

    • Carol Lipton on February 4, 2016, 12:33 am

      What struck me about Jesse’s presentation the most was its tautological reasoning, that because Coop members who attend GMs, most of whom are white, many of whom are Jewish, are apparently pissed off at those who call for a consistent stand on human and democratic rights that would mandate a vote for BDS, that’s grounds for making it harder to pass a boycott vote.

      It’s really another way of saying that white, mainstream Jewish and non-Jewish coop members do not want to have their racism and antipathy or apathy towards the destruction of Palestinian civil society and the 67-year history of brutal colonialism and murder, as well as forced destruction of and relocation of homes challenged.

      The divisiveness is a result of the resistance of those white members to the idea that Palestinians deserve full equality as citizens, deserve the Right of Return, and deserve to not be forced to live in an apartheid state. Or is there any other word for the various checkpoints, intermarriage laws, residency laws, and massive exploitation of Palestinian workers?

      Jesse and Barbara Mazor with the help of Joe Holtz have steered the Coop away from its historic roots, and away from its moral center. The Coop was founded on the principle that we would not carry products from South Africa.

      Jesse begs the question of why that was- because in progressive circles in NYC, one would not dare to speak out against racism towards black people. That’s got a 70-year tradition going for it.

      And as for gay rights, gay people have an enormous presence in the Coop, and no one in their right mind would have opposed the 1994 vote to boycott the state of Colorado after it passed an anti-gay ordinance. We did this despite the fact that we could conceivably have wrecked the local organic CO businesses who supplied us. We put principles first over pragmatism.

      But there is no such outcry on behalf of the Palestinian people, whose numbers in the Coop are very few, whose oppression is not visible in the mainstream media, and whose voices are never among those interviewed in stories on the conflict.

      That’s another way of saying that “might makes right”. To paraphrase the Seder’s 4 questions, “why are the rights of Palestinians different from all other rights”?

      Does Jesse once acknowledge that those opposing social change are always uncomfortable with that fact, but that is no reason to stop demanding it? That was the origin of “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it”.

      One only has to view “Selma” to see just how uncomfortable white people were with civil rights workers.

      Anyone who is truly progressive would be on the side of educating those in the food Coop who are deluded enough to think that a pro-human rights policy is consistent with the brutal Occupation, and some say genocidal policies, against an entire people, whose borders continue shrinking on a weekly basis, not of mouthing platitudes about “cooperation” and “unity”.

      A speaker at the January 26 GM said it so aptly: that the idea there can be parity between Israel and Palestine under the present system of military occupation, has indeed proposed a false symmetry. This is not equality.

      I recommend that Jesse Rosenfeld read “Goliath” by Max Blumenthal for a refresher course.

  8. Boomer on January 30, 2016, 10:09 am

    There is a lot that I don’t understand about BDS, whether in NYC or France. I see that U.S. Customs says that “According to an April 1995 U.S. Customs and Border Protection notification, products made in the West Bank or Gaza ‘shall be marked as “West Bank,” “Gaza,” or “Gaza Strip”… and shall not contain the words “Israel,” “Made in Israel,” ”Occupied Territories-Israel” or words of similar meaning.” (source link below)

    To me, as an uninformed consumer in the hinterlands who sympathizes with Palestinians, this sounds like something I should buy. I would presume that this is a Palestinians product, and any profits would go to them. But I infer that this isn’t always the case. So how is a consumer to know?

    Beyond that, I wonder how much Palestinians are actually allowed to export? Doesn’t Israel control the borders, and limit what (and who) goes in and out of Palestinian areas?

    Finally, from some things I read here, it seems that when some people talk about BDS, they refer only to products from some settlements, or from certain designated areas, not from Israel proper. I don’t see how that could, as a practical matter, have much effect on Israel, especially considering all the private and public aid it gets from the U.S. Is it merely symbolic? Symbolism can matter, but doesn’t seem adequate to do the job in this case.

    I’m not asking to be contentious, or “trolling.” I just don’t understand.

    http://www.richardsilverstein.com/2016/01/30/u-s-customs-regulations-all-settlement-products-to-be-labeled-made-in-west-bank/

  9. JustJessetr on January 31, 2016, 9:22 am

    It’s not “clearly aimed at preempting a proposal first put forward last spring that the Coop boycott Sodastream products” bc it doesnt mention anything about the Middle East.

    Read the speech. Rosenfeld is explicit in that he wants coop unity, and that the previous boycott policy left it wide open to a divisive approach to winning boycotts. Divisiveness in a cooperative organization is upsetting the majority of members and they want an overwhelming majority if the coop is going to publicize this kind of action to the world.

    • annie on January 31, 2016, 10:48 pm

      Rosenfeld is explicit in that he wants coop unity

      no, he want coop unity surrounding his own preference. he won’t get coop unity w/this move. he’ll piss off everyone who wants a full membership vote. and you don’t know what the majority of members want. just the members who came to the meeting.

      • JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 2:47 pm

        Then there’s a bigger picture you’re missing. Rosenfeld has strived for unity at the coop in all sorts of ways. He’s helped with food drives, called for every coop member to donate one dollar to help relocate a Syrian refugee family, helped bring Palestinian olive oil to the shelves, pitched in to keep the Coop safe from Hurricaine Sandy, and donated his time with the Coop’s outreach to CHIPS soup kitchen. He’s not unusual in that regard because lots of coop members do that. In their non-credit work hours, it’s implied that their efforts are not just volunteerism. It’s for the sake of everyone pitching in to help the greater good of community. That’s unity, that’s cooperation. That’s solidarity.

        If you feel that PSFC members arent progressive enough, then i certainly encourage you to move forward with your plans for an alternative coop in Park Slope. Feel free to take HB and Naomi Brussel with you. If seed money is all it takes, then i publicly pledge a symbolic donation of one dollar.

        Finally, the Coop does know what members want, especially in terms of a boycott of Israel. Any boycott, any agenda item at all, is as well publicized as any other. Anyone who cares about boycotts knows exactly when and where to show up. If they don’t attend, then they have other priorities.

      • annie on February 1, 2016, 4:17 pm

        Anyone who cares about boycotts knows exactly when and where to show up. If they don’t attend, then they have other priorities.

        i think someone expressed otherwise in this thread or one of the others. i would have to look for it.

        Finally, the Coop does know what members want, especially in terms of a boycott of Israel.

        then why bother with the general meeting or the votes at all. also, some peple have kids and it’s not so easy to get away for a few hours at night. some people have night itme jobs. so it’s not quite that easy. besides, if all the members came to the meetings, there would not be room for them.

      • JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 2:57 pm

        And the coop may or may not get unity under our brand new 75 percent rule, but it’s not like our old policy was creating it. Just the opposite. Really, you aren’t getting a complete picture because you choose to believe anyone who supports a boycott of Israel. And that’s too bad because you look rather, well, foolish when you act like you know what’s going on here when you so obviously don’t. Your use of terminology and the questions you ask make you stand out as a nonmember who is just shouting about the wrong things. The very same things that our little BDS crew here are shouting about and THEY KEEP LOSING EVERY VOTE.

      • annie on February 1, 2016, 4:33 pm

        well, for one thing i am not shouting. second, of course i don’t know everything because i am not there and i am not a member. don’t get all uppity on me i am merely expressing my opinion.

        i’m just not understanding why, if you’ve got a members of the board vote coming up that will be mailed out to all the members why, in the interest of fairness and peace, they couldn’t have simply placed a little box at the base of it so people could check off whether they were for or against the boycott? it would be so easy. no 45,000 dollars or 15,000 dollars. i think people are adults and would accept the decision. this has been going on for way too many months. it is a propaganda tactic not like the stand w/us position on colleges claiming the opposition is creating divisions on campus whereas the anti boycotters are somehow “cooperating”.

        THEY KEEP LOSING EVERY VOTE.

        except the vote the coop is afraid to host. me, i just think it’s very hypocritical to promote the coop as not carry food that hurts people if the palestinians are not included. whatever.

      • JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 3:58 pm

        And only a out 25 people in the PSFC are agitated enough to be in the “pissed off” category. There is simply no groundswell for boycotts that are divisive at the coop. Some people did vote against the 75 percent majority, but that doesn’t mean they are proboycott of Israel. Some people voted for a coop-wide referendum years ago, but that doesnt mean they are pro boycott of Israel either. They were just voicing their opinion about how democracy should be exercised at the Coop.

        Just because a ruling didn’t fall in your favor doesnt mean it was about you. Get over yourselves.

      • annie on February 1, 2016, 4:42 pm

        And only a out 25 people in the PSFC are agitated enough to be in the “pissed off” category.

        well that’s a unique perspective.

        Just because a ruling didn’t fall in your favor doesnt mean it was about you.

        not sure what you’re referring to. obviouslyly it’s not about me, i don’t even live there. i initially engaged you on the allegation rosenfeld wants unity. this is kind of a funny allegation because i sure everyone at the coop would like unity surrounding their own point of view. but this referendum or whatever it is cements his/her own position over what could be a majority position.

      • JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 4:38 pm

        What you are describing is voter apathy, and i like it even less than you do. But you assume everyone with kids or night work is a proBDS supporter? I could say the exact same thing and claim that such people would have voted for 75 percent.

        The deck isn’t stacked against BDS. People simply care about Coop unity more.

        As Rosenfeld said, and it goes straight to the heartof it, Coop unity is more important than any boycott.

      • JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 4:56 pm

        Why cant they just add a little checkbox to a mailing that is already going out to all the members? Because that needs to be voted on first. See? It’s a matter of democracy in action. And we had such a vote at Brooklyn Tech years ago. And BDS lost it because people were more interested in Coop unity than any boycott.

        We’re good people at PSFC, Annie. And we take real offense at being called racists and Nazis because we don’t agree with a handful of BDS supporters who will say anything to gain sympathy. Meanwhile, they cannot prove how a boycott of Israel will in any way help the business or even help a single Palestinian.

        You want to know who helps Palestinians at the Coop? Jesse Rosenfeld does! He worked like hell to bring a new brand of Palestinian olive oil to our shelves. And who has done the most bitching about it? So-called supporters of Palestinian liberation. He didn’t have to do it,especially since he is staunchly anti-boycott of Israel. But he did in the name of Coop unity, and to show that there are more than two ways of looking at the I/P conflict, to show that you don’t have to be anti-israel to be proPalestinian. And he got zero thanks for it.

  10. JustJessetr on February 1, 2016, 8:43 pm

    “Then why bother with the general meeting or the votes at all. also, some peple have kids and it’s not so easy to get away for a few hours at night. some people have night itme jobs. so it’s not quite that easy. besides, if all the members came to the meetings, there would not be room for them.”

    We hold General Meetings because that’s in our by-laws. Corporations must have at least one Annual Meeting of the shareholders and we’re generous by having a General Meeting every month. We are also obligated by law to have a Board of Directors which, just like any board anywhere, is not obligated by law to heed the votes of membership. However this being the Park Slope Food Coop, there has never been a time (except once in the 1990’s) where the BOD ignored the advice of the General Meetings or Annual Meetings because our membership gives excellent advice aimed at our health and longevity. It’s easy to point out inconsistencies and ironies and hypocrisies from a distance, but to get things changed at PSFC, you have to have an agenda item, and a discussion, and a proposal, and a membership vote, and BOD vote. No amount of demands or sarcasm will make it work any other way. And it’s great that things move so slowly. It’s give people a chance to breathe and think clearly.

    As for people having other responsibilities, I agree that it’s unfortunate. But it’s not an earthquake keeping people away from the meeting. In the end, it’s their own choice.

    “Of course i don’t know everything because i am not there and i am not a member. don’t get all uppity on me i am merely expressing my opinion.”

    Glad to hear you admit that glaring hole in all your arguments. You are obviously not a member. You are obviously not there. So don’t get all uppity yourself and encourage Naomi Brussel to sue the PSFC when you only listen to one tiny side of things. And there are hundreds of sides, not just pro or anti-boycott of Israel. There are also members who are anti-boycott in general, who are pro-Coop, who are pro-Operations, who are against our even having a Mission Statement at all, and then there is the large majority of people who just want to be left alone.

    “i’m just not understanding why, if you’ve got a members of the board vote coming up that will be mailed out to all the members why, in the interest of fairness and peace, they couldn’t have simply placed a little box at the base of it so people could check off whether they were for or against the boycott?”

    Why would we? First and foremost, we have to have a Discussion scheduled, then a Proposal Vote, then a BOD vote to get that to happen. Just saying, “in the interest of fairness and peace” would be skipping the democratic process. Secondly; the issue of boycotting Israel is not central to our operations, so the General Coordinators wouldn’t dream of doing such thing unilaterally. Third, there’s nothing in our boycott policy that mentions mailings to the membership to be included in our yearly ballot mailings. Fourth, boycotting in general is not mentioned in the bylaws. And finally, BDS has no workslot, no squad, no office seat, no committee, not even an agenda item that has ever come close to passing the vote. Stated plainly and simply: BDS at the Coop doesn’t exist.

    “it would be so easy. no 45,000 dollars or 15,000 dollars. i think people are adults and would accept the decision.”

    Only a non-member unfamiliar with our democratic process would say that.

    “this has been going on for way too many months. it is a propaganda tactic not like the stand w/us position on colleges claiming the opposition is creating divisions on campus whereas the anti boycotters are somehow “cooperating””

    I agree that it’s gone on for too many months. But BDS keeps the issue in the air. And I disagree that it’s propaganda. We are a community of very good people involved in all sorts of social justice issues who don’t like being called racists or Nazis because we disagree with a specific tactic to fight oppression. We will not crush free speech, but the right to free speech doesn’t equal the right to say anything to get the ball over the 50-yard line to the point of pitting people against each other inside a cooperative enterprise. So we voted for 75% in the hope that if you are truly concerned about injustice and want the Coop to boycott someone, then you should know how a supermajority of the Coop thinks. You should need to convince a supermajority before you claim to speak in it’s voice. On Tuesday, we voted 75% and said that our cooperative business model as a whole is more important than any boycott.

    “They keep losing every vote except the vote the coop is afraid to host.”

    Who is this “Coop” that is so “afraid”? The sole responsibility for scheduling a vote to boycott SodaStream rests with the Agenda Committee, who refuses to be petitioned or bullied by anyone because they refuse to be politicized. And they have a very good reason for not scheduling the vote yet. If you were a member of the PSFC (oh, that’s right, you’re not) you would know that the vote at Brooklyn Tech in 2012 hosted almost 1700 people. The Agenda Committee is responsible for finding a spot that big again in order to show that we welcomed everyone who wanted to attend. (The Supermajority vote by contrast attracted only enought people to fill 500 seats at most.) But guess which champions of justice have made such hateful remarks over the years about Israel, and thinly disguised hateful statements against Jews, and bellowed how they don’t believe in national self-determination for Jews, and gloated how they support violence by Palestinians and Hezbullah and the SJP, that no auditorium that size wants to be associated with this nonsense? Our Agenda Committee is beholden to bring a boycott of SodaStream to the floor, and they are working to find a space, but they are stymied by the public image you all have labored so intensely to create. You have no one but yourselves to blame.

    “Well that’s a unique perspective [that only 25 people are really ‘pissed off’ that a vote to boycott SodaStream has been delayed]”

    It’s a realistic perspective. Truly pissed off people make a continuous stink and keep showing up. If you were a member (oh, I forgot again, you’re not), then you would see that 25 is a generous estimate of who is really pissed off in the Coop. The same few names keep appearing under Letters to the Editor. The same sour faces keep appearing at General Meetings claiming they wuz robbed. The same old people claiming to be heroes or victims. The 75% victory was a repudiation of this arrogance. And I’m delighted beyond measure that it will be more difficult to pass any boycott at the PSFC. Maybe people will have to be more creative about changing people’s minds, maybe they’ll have to use something besides emotional reasoning, or pictures of suffering that could have come from anywhere in the Middle East. Maybe they’ll have to work cooperatively instead of divisively. It was the right decision to take for the Coop, and it was aimed at our own cohesion, nothing else.

    • Mooser on February 2, 2016, 10:33 am

      (Click…click, squeal) “Attention clean-up crew. Logorrhea spill on Park Slope Thread!”

    • Mooser on February 2, 2016, 12:12 pm

      Wow, “Jessetr” I just read that thing, and I owe you an apology. You are out to destroy the co-op, and I think if you just write a bit more you can do it. You go, man!

      • JustJessetr on February 2, 2016, 6:18 pm

        Well, Annie. If the best you can do is let Moosefart here do his usual lame-ass sarcasm bit, I conclude you can’t argue this on it’s merits.

        Do Palestinians a favor. Until you know what you’re talking about, don’t talk at all.

      • Mooser on February 2, 2016, 9:19 pm

        “If the best you can do is let Moosefart here do his usual lame-ass sarcasm “

        “Justjessetr” that shouldn’t affect you at all.
        A balmalocha, a bal toyreh like you should simply ignore a balegoola like me.

        I mean, c’mon, a three or four line response throws you for a loop, pleading “sarcasm”? Let loose with another thousand-worder! You’ll show me.

  11. JustJessetr on February 4, 2016, 7:19 am

    @Carol Lipton.

    What struck me about your posts was how you come across as someone who wasn’t even at the General Meeting, and if you were, don’t understand the basic procedure of one.

    “The chair at first agreed that Jesse’s proposal constituted a change to the Bylaws,”

    That is absolutely not the case. The Chairwoman agreed several times AT FIRST that it was a change to the Rules of the Meeting. She changed her mind at one point to say then it was a change to the ByLaws. Then, after consulting with the rest of the Chair Committee and the Board of Directors, reversed her decision again. That is how it happened, like it or not.

    “She then reversed her opinion after Joe Holtz got to speak.”

    This is true only in the sense that Joe Holtz and everyone else in the Board and the Chair Committee spoke with her. (See above)

    “At no time did the Coop solicit legal opinion letters from its attorneys or other independent specialists in non-profit law.”

    Because the PSFC didn’t need to.

    “We were limited to 2 minutes. Anti-BDS people went over 2 min., but when a pro BDS speaker did this, the microphone was turned off on her. Then the Chair cut down the speaking time for people to 1 min. 30 seconds.”

    Anyone who goes over two minutes is given a warning. When they keep rambling, their mic is cut off. That’s been the case, finally, for a few meetings. And why? Enough people wrote to the Gazette begging the Chair Committee to do exactly that. Why? Because people kept pushing past their limit at the mic to the point of slowing the whole meeting down and the Chair Committee was too polite to put an end to it. Until now.

    “Jesse Rosenfeld had about 8 minutes to speak,”

    The way you phrase this is as if he was given some kind of special favor. Have you forgotten 8 minutes WAS FOR HIS PRESENTATION??? THAT EVERYONE WHO PRESENTS GETS AT LEAST 10 MINUTES??? The context you use is absolutely manipulative because it’s weak on that central fact.

    “I was thinking about just this all week- how can I in good conscience continue to be part of an organization of deluded, narcissistic yuppies, who wave the banner of human rights, egalitarianism and democracy while supporting a horrendously brutal occupation that saturation-bombed Gaza with more ordnance than was dropped on Hiroshima and slaughtered 2300 people ostensibly as vengeance over the deaths of 3 Israeli teenagers.”

    The only reason you think such people support occupation is because they don’t fight it the way you want them to. That is more deluded and narcissistic than anyone you accuse. At least Rosenfeld brought Palestinian olive oil to PSFC. He supported Palestinian businesses. He encouraged their dignity while putting some money in their pockets. What have you ever done for a Palestinian to ease his suffering? Post gory pictures on the internet that haven’t improved the plight of Palestinians since 1947?

    Re: your plight with the Gazette and your letter….

    Boo-hoo. Get in line. Everyone hates the Gazette. Support the upcoming proposal to make it an elected workslot instead of an appointed one, and then run for the position. Stop whining.

    “What struck me about Jesse’s presentation the most was its tautological reasoning, that because Coop members who attend GMs, most of whom are white, many of whom are Jewish, are apparently pissed off at those who call for a consistent stand on human and democratic rights that would mandate a vote for BDS, that’s grounds for making it harder to pass a boycott vote.” Etc, etc.

    What strikes me about your thinking is that you maintain PSFC is some kind of social justice organization that supports itself by selling food. Sorry, it’s a business first, with legal requirements to keep operating. Without the business, there’s nothing to boycott. If your moral core is so shaken by PSFC, please feel free to leave. I’ll hold the door for you.

    And that you’re willing to sue the Coop (for what damages exactly?) only proves Rosenfeld’s point: that you and BDS are simply divisive and don’t care about the place.

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