Statements of Support

During our campaign to bring a membership-wide referendum to the Coop in early 2012, we received statements of support by organizations and individuals from New York City to Israel and the West Bank.

Statement of Support signed by American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, Boston Hummus Boycott Campaign, FIERCE, Global Exchange, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, Peace Action New York State, Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace, Philly BDS, Jay Toole of Queers for Economic Justice, Alice Walker:

We, the undersigned, send this statement of support to those members of the Park Slope Food Coop who have introduced a proposal to hold a member-wide referendum on joining the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at stopping Israel’s human rights abuses and violating international law. 170 Palestinian civil society organizations made a unified call for this nonviolent method of pressuring Israel to end its illegal occupation and colonization, and its systemic violence against Palestinians. The lives of Palestinians worsen every day. Ben Gurion, Ehud Ohlmert and Ehud Barak, three former Israeli Prime Ministers, have compared the situation to apartheid. This growing international movement is offering Palestinians a sense of hope and solidarity in their struggle for freedom and peace after governments and negotiations have long failed them. As in the case of South Africa, it has become clear that global pressure through consumer boycotts, divestment and sanctions is necessary in forcing Israelis to change their government’s policies.

We’re dismayed by the slanderous charges of anti-semitism being leveled at the proponents of BDS. This tactic has been used widely to deflect discourse away from legitimate arguments about a massive, well-funded military power occupying an oppressed population. The criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is warranted, as it is for any nation breaking international laws, and this criticism is in no way an indictment of the Jewish identity. For anyone who believes in democracy, it is evident that each member of the Park Slope Food Coop’s large community has a right to participate in a vote on an issue of such grave importance.

We hope that all people of conscience who belong to the Coop will support holding a referendum, and vote to stand in solidarity with Palestinian people by joining the expanding community of institutions that believe BDS is a viable, nonviolent, and effective method of resistance to occupation.

Statement of Support from Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi (member of Palestinian Parliament, nonviolent resistance leader, and former candidate for the Palestinian presidency):

I am in full support of the effort by the Park Slope Co-op to get Israeli products off their shelves. We Palestinians have attempted to end Israeli domination over our lives for decades. We have not succeeded. American support for our nonviolent efforts is urgently needed. Such support had a dramatic impact in ending apartheid in South Africa and it can have a dramatic impact in securing Palestinian freedom and equal rights.

Co-op members have a remarkable opportunity to send a message that they understand our difficulties and are willing to stand up for Palestinian rights much as they have done when confronted with other injustices around the world. They will be unfairly and cruelly labeled as anti-Semites and self-hating Jews for taking such a brave step. But they are no such thing. In fact, they will be courageously standing alongside Palestinians and Jews who have been telling the world for decades now that it is wrong for Israel to discriminate against and oppress Palestinians.

Statement of Support from Boycott From Within:

[excerpt below; full text is on their website]

We are members of Boycott From Within, a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call and international campaign against Israel’s human-rights and international law violations. We support the initiative to boycott Israeli products from the Park Slope Food Coop and we are asking for your help in passing this initiative and more generally to help our struggle to change the Israeli government’s policies.[…]

We urge you to live up to the principles of the Park Slope Food Coop’s mission statement which states that: “We seek to avoid products that depend on the exploitation of others.” The selling of Israeli products means more than the economic impact it has. More importantly it indicates a situation of business as usual and the message that Israel receives from that, even if not intended is that it can continue to deny Palestinians their rights without worrying about American pressure. On the other hand, a show of solidarity in respecting the Palestinian call for boycott empowers the oppressed people in their struggle. This kind of support sustains Palestinians in their daily struggles and gives hope to the popular struggle for Palestinian rights.

Statement of Support from Brooklyn For Peace:

[also on their website with link to PDF]

Some members of Brooklyn For Peace are also members of the Park Slope Food Coop; several have been members for over 10, 20, and 30 years. The workers-only Coop has a longstanding national reputation not only for its organic foods and its low prices but also for its progressive stance on human rights issues, both domestic and international in scope. Over the years, the Coop has boycotted products from South Africa seeking to end apartheid, grapes from Chile in protest over violations of international law and human rights, and California grapes in support of the United Farm Workers in their demands for fair working conditions.

The current issue before the Coop focuses on Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, and its continuing violations of the human rights of Palestinians. A diverse group of Coop members are asking the Coop to end the sale of products from Israel until Israel complies with international law, ends the occupation of Palestinian Territories, and ends its apartheid policies. The group is calling for a referendum as the only democratic way for the 16,000+ members to have a voice in this important decision.

Brooklyn For Peace is committed to the democratic process and to the use of non-violent methods to pressure Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinians. We do not agree that criticizing Israel’s policies is anti-Semitic.

This is an historic moment for the Park Slope Food Coop, an opportunity for it again to align itself with the struggle for justice and human rights. To give every member an opportunity to weigh in on this important decision, Brooklyn For Peace supports a referendum on whether the Coop should boycott Israeli goods.

Statement of Support from Christian-Jewish Allies of Greater Philadelphia:

Christian Jewish Allies of Philadelphia respectfully urges that the Park Slope Co-op proceed with a referendum on the important issue of support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Christian Jewish Allies, an interfaith organization seeking peace with justice in Israel/Palestine, is strongly committed to this movement. As South Africa has shown, BDS is a proactive, international, grassroots strategy to raise consciousness about injustice and help foster conditions that can lead to a just peace for all people. As such, BDS is neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Israeli. BDS peacefully and vigorously opposes policies of the Israeli government which systematically oppress the Palestinian people. We urge that Park Slope Co-op members resist false accusations and diversionary efforts to prevent members from exploring these issues, and instead, make up their own minds by democratically exercising their vote in a referendum.

Statement of Support from CODEPINK Women for Peace:

Members of the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn who are pushing to remove Israeli goods from the Coop’s shelves are engaging in a venerable American tradition. Boycotts are a time-honored, non-violent method used to educate the public and to compel governments and institutions to end unjust practices. The Park Slope Food Coop has in the past voted to ban products from South Africa, Chile, Colorado, General Electric, and Coca-Cola, among others, as a means to exert moral and economic pressure.

The Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement provides a way for people around the globe to hold the Israeli government accountable for its flagrant violations of international law, its brutal occupation, and its system of apartheid. BDS also allows us to call to account institutions and corporations profiting from the occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. We support the efforts of members of the Park Slope Food Coop to use their power as consumers to increase respect for human rights and international law.

Statement of Support from Jewish Voice for Peace:

[also on their website]

The Park Slope Food Coop, a member-only institution, is currently debating whether or not to boycott products from Israel. This effort, a response to the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns against Israel, is one of many underway across the United States and the world. JVP supports those that choose to nonviolently pursue peace with justice and rejects the assertion that BDS is inherently anti-Semitic. While JVP focuses our efforts on boycott and divestment campaigns that directly target Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip, we support the right of concerned activists worldwide to employ the full range of BDS tactics. As an organization outside of the Park Slope Food Coop’s membership, we affirm that it is up to PSFC membership to decide what is right for their community.

Statement of Support from Jews Say No!:

JEWS SAY NO! wholeheartedly supports the Park Slope Food Coop BDS Campaign in the spirit of the Coop’s past support of the United Farmworkers’ boycotts, and the South African BDS campaign, among many other campaigns for Human Rights and Equal Justice.

Statement of Support from NYC War Resisters League:

In 1974, national War Resisters League released its first statement regarding Israel and Palestine. Steps to building peace in the region included calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel and ending military aid to the region by all weapons dealing countries. In 1974 WRL said, “we note that after 25 years of unrelenting conflict, the existing situation is so desperate that the parties to the conflict must seek an alternative to a set of policies which has brought four wars in one generation.”

Nearly 40 years and thousands of deaths later this unrelenting conflict continues, as does our struggle for peace on many levels, in many ways, and in coalition with peoples from all walks of life around the world.

NYC War Resisters League, the local activist group, has supported the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions as a nonviolent means of pressuring Israel to end its ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights and bring about a peaceful and just settlement to the conflict. BDS has sparked an international campaign that has the potential to bring change in the way that the boycott of South Africa helped to end apartheid.

Many members of our group are members of the Park Slope Food Coop, and many of us have been active in coalitions for Middle East peace in the U.S. and abroad. This struggle is not without conflict within our own groups. WRL lost many members in 1974 when its Statement on the Middle East was released, but finding a solution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine has remained a critical element in our work to end war. The grassroots, educational and outreach aspects of the BDS campaign are extremely important in keeping a dialogue going and working toward change.

NYC War Resisters League supports the process of holding a Coop-wide referendum on the question of boycotting Israeli products and encourages members to see this not as a small step but as part of a wider demand for a desperately needed settlement for peace among Israelis and Palestinians.

Statement of Support from Students for Justice in Palestine (all chapters):

Students for Justice in Palestine is a diverse group of students, faculty, and staff represented on over 50 college campuses nation wide. We represent over a thousand students in the United States working to bring the Palestine Question to institutions of Higher Education because the subject and issue of Palestine has been, and continues to be, systematically excluded from our education and public discussion. We organize around democratic principles to build solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice, freedom, self-determination and the right of return.

We stand in solidarity with the Park Slope Food Coop’s call to boycott Israeli products because we believe that American citizens and American institutions should not be profiting off of, or investing in, companies that are directly implicated in violations of international law and war crimes. Complacent approaches towards the known link between our consumer decisions and violence enacted on real people is inconsistent with our values. For example, when one consumes Sabra and Tribe Hummus they are also subsidizing the Israeli government’s abusive policies against Palestinians. Sabra is owned by the Strauss Group and PepsiCo, and Tribe is owned by Osem. Both the Strauss Group and Osem have ties to the Israeli government and military. The Strauss Group provides political support and food to Israel’s Golani Brigade, which is responsible for numerous human rights abuses according to various UN and Human Rights Organizations. Tribe is owned by Osem, which is linked to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose main objective is to build settlement infrastructure in the West Bank. Israeli settlements are built on illegally confiscated land to make Jewish-only neighborhoods.

We stand behind the principles of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement and fully support the call from Palestinian Civil Society for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel because the least we can do is refuse to support the systematic oppression of an entire People based on their ethnic identity.

We believe that the BDS campaign is a politically effective, yet non-violent way to end apartheid. Inspired by the BDS movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa we fully support and endorse the Park Slope Food Coop’s call to boycott Israeli products until Israel complies with International Law.

We urge every member of the coop who believes and supports Human Rights to live up to the principles of the Park Slope Food Coop’s mission statement which states that: “We seek to avoid products that depend on the exploitation of others.” We understand that taking stances like this maybe difficult in the moment because it is unpopular. However, years from now you will look back and remember that this small vote was a courageous one. This vote will mark your position on the right side of history.

Statement of Support from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a coalition of over 375 organizations across the United States working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality. As a coalition that includes many organizations representing people who have faced and are still facing oppression in the United States and abroad, we have endorsed the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) issued in 2005 as a moral nonviolent tactic to bring about a just peace. We were disappointed to hear that opponents of the initiative were against allowing a democratic referendum on the issue of whether the coop should stop carrying Israeli goods. We have also been surprised by the misinformation surrounding the BDS movement. The original call and those working on BDS operate on a platform that opposes racism or bigotry in any form, including anti-Palestinian and anti-Semitic discrimination. Israel is a country, not an ethnic group or religion, responsible for a significant number of human rights violations and violating a significant number of United Nations resolutions. As such, we write in support of a Park Slope Food Coop boycott of Israeli goods, and more importantly, at a minimum, appeal to members of the coop to allow their peers the basic right to vote in a referendum.

Statement of Support from WESPAC Foundation:

[also on their website]

WESPAC Foundation supports the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign Against Israel as a non-violent means of pressuring Israel to end its ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights. We support efforts within the Park Slope Food Coop to support the BDS campaign and believe it is appropriate to give the coop membership the opportunity to vote to support BDS and to allow this process to be open, transparent and democratic.