Park Slope Food Co-op schedules vote on whether to hold a referendum on banning Israeli products (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS) BY CONOR FEBOS AND ERIN DURKIN 02/22/12)
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The three-year batle over whether Israeli products belong on the
shelves of the Park Slope Food Coop is finally coming to a vote --
The 39-year-old organic-food haven has scheduled a vote for next
month to decide whether to hold a referendum of its 16,000 members on
banning Israeli-made products like hummus, paprika, and seltzer.
The coop has taken stands before - banning bottled water, Coca-Cola,
and hummus from a Brooklyn company accused of mistreating its
workers. But no issue has split members like the Israel boycott.
“Anything we’ve boycotted in the past, the sentiment for the boycott
was at almost 100%,” said general coordinator Ann Herpel.
But she said while passions run high on both sides of the issue, most
members are more interested in shopping for organic produce than
delving into Middle East politics.
“There are two groups that are very interested in this, and there’s a
lot of people that this has not been on their radar,” she said. “Most
people just feel passionately about the coop, not passionately about
The proposal is being pushed by a group dubbed Park Slope Food Coop
Members for Israeli Boycott Divestment Sanctions.
“Economic engagement with the state of Israel gives it the means and
muscle to oppress, destabilize, and colonize the Palestinian people,”
Mohan Sikka wrote in one letter to the Linewaiters’ Gazette - one of
dozens of impassioned missives from both sides that have filled the
newsletter’s pages in recent months.
Opponents have countered with their own group, called More Hummus,
“It’s wrong to try to use the coop’s reputation to speak for one
particular cause. We’re a diverse group of people, and we’ve come
there to save money on food, period,” said Barbara Mazor, 54, of
Midwood. “This is not going to have any effect on anything. It just
promotes hostility, because it only puts the blame for the problem on
Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is not a member of the coop, advised against
a boycot. “A boycott of Israel, which protects women´s and human
rights far more than any of its neighbors, is one-sided and unfair
and I urge coop members to reject this misguided and counter-
productive proposal,” the Democrat said.
At the store Tuesday, most members dismissed the idea of a
boycott. “You will not change Israeli policy by boycotting its
products. If it is approved, it will be damaging to the coop and a
futile exercise,” said Alan Rosner, 68, of Park Slope.
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