Censorship of Pinkwashing Event at the Coop

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For the last few years, members of the Park Slope Food Coop have advocated that the Coop join the international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel because of its violations of human rights and international law. Coop members working for BDS have already presented several on-site educational events about Israel/Palestine.

Recently, two members proposed an event about pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is the term for the PR campaign to depict Israel (especially Tel Aviv) as a haven for queer people, diverting attention from the persecution of Palestinians by highlighting Israel’s progressive LGBT laws. The Coop pinkwashing event organizers wanted our program to include discussion of a local example of pinkwashing at the NYC LGBT Center. In 2011, after a gay Zionist threatened to organize a donation boycott of the Center, its Board of Directors banned any Palestine support group from meeting in the Center.

Three weeks after the BDS group’s event was initially accepted by a Coop staff member, Joe Holtz and Ann Herpel (two high-level Coop paid staff) objected to the proposal. They said that the event would violate a principle of cooperative conduct because it would involve criticism of another community organization, one that does “good and vital work.”

We ask you to call the Coop and ask for either Ann Herpel or Joe Holtz. Let them know that you are angry about their cancellation of our pinkwashing event and that you are concerned about undemocratic decision-making at the Coop. Tell them that it is important for Coop members to be able to learn about the intricacies of Israel’s persecution of Palestinians and how that plays out here in the US and NYC.

The Coop’s phone number: 718-622-0560

The cancellation of our pinkwashing event at the Coop is similar to the actions of other nonprofit organizations to suppress criticism of Israel’s apartheid policies. Most recently the NYC Educational Alliance – 14th Street YM-YWHA canceled an educational program about BDS organized by Jewish Voice for Peace.

These cancellations and bans are part of the ongoing censorship of any criticism of Israeli government policies. Speak out!