Olympia Food Co-op boycott: wrong

Washington state’s Olympia Food Co-op “honor nationally recognized boycotts which are called for reasons that are compatible with our goals and mission statement”. In that vein they’re adding Israel to a list which includes all of China and one US company (is that seriously all?). The decision to go for an all-Israel boycott rather than boycotting the settlements suggests that only Israel’s end as a Jewish state will satisfy these boycotters. The wording of the boycott statement either confirms this or confirms their ignorance.

The unusual thing about this boycott is that the Olympia Food Co-op also say antisemitism is a problem and even more unusually (unlike the University and College Union, for example) they have identified a problem in pro-Palestinian movements which (unlike Cafe Crema, for example) they consider – if briefly – to be their problem:

“Unfortunately, anti-Semitic statements have abounded in a lot of the “support” that the co-op has received in regard to the Israeli-products’ boycott. This pamphlet (downloadable, or available for reading online) is a good primer on what anti-Semitism looks like, especially in relation to pro-Palestinian work, and how we can include work against Jewish oppression in our movements for justice and peace.”

(Yes, read it again – that’s actually oppression of Jews, not by them.)

Writing in Ha’aretz, Bradley Burston:

“I want to thank the Olympia Food Co-op Israel boycott. Something extremely valuable is happening there. Something truly radical. An awareness that people who are truly in favor of social justice must take a stand against bigotry, no matter the target.”

Spare us. It’s a sign of the times that a short post and link to a pamphlet against antisemitism can bring about such extremes of relief and gratitude that an anti-boycotter fails to notice the boycott terms and overlooks the difference – gulf – between reasons and outcomes.

A boycott of farmers, manufacturers and distributors in Israel doesn’t deserve any “honor”. It doesn’t distinguish between Israel and the settlements, doesn’t respond to the anti-Jewish threats from the neighbours, and ignores the long-standing suppressed war against Israel currently making itself evident in Eilat, Ashkelon and – fatally – the Jordanian city of Aqaba. These things give some explanation why Binyamin Netanyahu, bad leader of a bad coalition, has such strong approval in Israel.

Boycotting workers in Israel is useless and probably counter-productive. How does it help anti-boycotters like Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, which has just managed to get Israel’s own Gaza flotilla investigation (which I’m willing to bet you didn’t hear on the news reports about the UN investigation) upgraded to legal standing?

That the Olympia Food Co-op were prepared to hurt themselves so badly to bring in such clearly unpromising policy is alarmingly disorientated. At best. Linking to that pamphlet was the least they could do.

Update: via Entdichtung in the comments below, a vehemently anti-Zionist and anti-capitalist view from the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) who at the same time consider the standing BDS campaign antithetical “to the international working-class struggle on which the liberation of the Palestinians is premised. BDS campaigns serve to promote illusions in the benign nature of other capitalist powers — not least British imperialism — relative to Israel”.

12 Responses to “Olympia Food Co-op boycott: wrong”

  1. zkharya Says:

    ‘The decision to go for an all-Israel boycott rather than boycotting the settlements suggests that only Israel’s end as a Jewish state will satisfy these boycotters.’

    But that is the aim of the BDS movement generally: the end of Jewish nationalism and a Jewish nation state.

  2. Bialik Says:

    Credit where it’s due. That is a good piece of reporting in the Guardian about the rockets. Israel said to be targeting their fire on tunnels and Hamas military leaders, not launching revenge attacks. Hamas and Muslem Brotherhood link in place. Pattern of rockets on Israeli cities explained. Israel and Jordan co-operating on investigation.

    No comment from Jordan, however, which is a shame. The real victims of that attack had no say.

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Brian: 3rd paragraph from the end of the article: the highlighted words “making itself evident” will take you to the Guardian online report.

  4. türkh web tasarım Says:

    Israel and Jordan co-operating on investigation

  5. redflags Says:

    Listen, if you think a racist settler state that is at war with everyone around them is cool, then fine. Just don’t pretend you aren’t a racist who thinks Europeans have the right to steal someone else’s land. I’m not anti-Dutch, and from what I can see the end of apartheid was a good thing for Africa.

    If Jews want to live in Palestine, fine. If the US/UK want to subsidize a military garrison in the name of the Jewish people by dispossessing the original inhabitants… well, that’s not fine.

    Zionism is a form of ethno-nationalism. Among Germans this idea is called nazism, among Italians fascism. If secular democracy is a worthy goal for Jews in Europe and the United States, then I think it might be the only plan for peace in Palestine, from the river to the sea.

    Equating loss of legal, economic and social supremacy with genocide is grotesque. It’s like the white southerners in the USA who thought democracy was the “end of our way of life”. Well, it is… and good riddance.

  6. modernityblog Says:

    It is fascinating to read Comrade Redflags’ opinions.

    What a pity that his/her views seem to be compromised by racism, found in the contents of his/her website, http://burning.typepad.com/

    Readers will notice on the right-hand side, under the title of “Hot Shots” a number of questionable links:

    “Do Zionists Run America?”

    “Identity Crisis: Zionism and Other Marginal Thoughts”

    A piece by the well known anti-Jewish racist, Gilad Atzmon.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      “Live in Palestine”. If the only country to disappear is Israel, that’s a paradoxically singular kind of anti-nationalism, Redflag. As you know, Jews are a minority in a middle east where abuse of minorities is common-place. Federation is a wonderful vision (which you don’t seem to share) to work towards, but it’s not for now. Nationalism means something different under these circumstances, and the circumstances of Jewish history. Although nationalists can be ‘fascist’, and some Zionists are indeed fascist, nationalism is not the same thing as fascism. Kosovo, Kurd, Sri Lankan Tamil separatism are cases in point. Read Sumantra Bose’s Contested Lands.

      Somewhat pointlessly given Mod’s response, I removed his/her self-promoting link.


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