The Food Co-op is not — repeat not — considering a ban on Israeli products

The Brooklyn Paper
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For the record: The Park Slope Food Co-op is not considering a ban on Israeli-made or -grown products.

This myth, reported around the globe by the Jewish Forward and dozens of blogs that seem to regard the 16,000-member supermarket as some kind of anti-Israel committee rather than a great place for produce, evolved from a stray comment at an open meeting in January, when a Co-op member who identified herself only as Hima inquired about whether the Co-op sells Israeli products.

“I don’t know whether or not we carry Israeli products,” she said, “but I propose that we no longer carry them.”

Sorry, Hima, but that’s now how it works at America’s largest, member-run food cooperative. Stray comments at a Park Slope Food Co-op general meeting don’t become Co-op law until — and please believe me because I know this from personal experience — extensive debate, discussion and more mudslinging than at an organic composting facility.

And that’s just to get the item on the AGENDA for an upcoming meeting! You should have seen the battle over selling beer! An earlier proposal to sell meat nearly ended in murder (of humans, not cattle)!

Alas, the above fact doesn’t matter to America’s blogosphere, which ran with the story that the Co-op was considering a blockade of Israel.

“Park Slope Food Coop Bans Israeli Food,” read the headline on New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog.

“Food Fight: Brooklyn Co-op Mulls Israel Ban,” read the headline in the original Forward article that set off the explosion of coverage.

Only the New York Post seems to have gotten the story right — by doing what it does best: taking the grain of truth and calling Assemblyman Dov Hikind to get angry about it.

“‘Ban Israel’ bid mushrooms into B’klyn Food Fight,” said the Post headline — accurate, of course, because the Post went out and created the “food fight” itself.

Like any decent reporter, I heard about Hima’s comments at the January meeting and knew there was a great story here. But unlike most of the bloggers and chatterboxes masquerading as reporters these days, a few phone calls and a little shoe-leather investigating revealed that Hima did not do the necessary paperwork to get her “Israel ban” on the agenda for the February meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

Oh, and there’s paperwork! The instructions alone on “How to Develop an Agenda Item for the General Meeting,” is two pages, single-spaced. Then the submission form for said agenda item requires an essay.

Hima didn’t do it (for now, at least), so in other words, the Park Slope Food Co-op is NOT considering a ban on Israeli goods — currently persimmons, red peppers and sometimes, mushrooms — at its February general meeting.

This is not to say that talk of a ban won’t come up again. After all, such a ban would find plenty of support among the peaceniks who prowl the aisles at the Food Co-op. From my years as a Co-op member, I have seen the supermarket take positions on a wide variety of liberal causes — most of them having to do with non-violence and the environment, including the well-publicized ban on plastic bags and bottled water.

Indeed, there are plenty of members of the Co-op who think Israel’s battle with rocket-launching Gaza militants is evidence that the Jewish state is a violent thug. There are others, judging by letters in supermarket’s house organ, the Linewaiter’s Gazette, who think Israel’s treatment of its Arab population is the equivalent of Apartheid.

And there are others, of course, who think the Co-op is a supermarket that should focus on what it does best: selling low-cost, organic produce to a diverse collection of Brooklynites, from Muslims to orthodox Jews to atheists to vegans.

But whatever your opinion on Israel — and persimmons — however, the Co-op’s “Israel ban” is a myth.

At least, for now.

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at
Updated 6:01 pm, February 26, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

A O from BKLYN says:
Isn't the purpose of the co-op to buy locally grown and locally made products. Why buy anything from out of the USA or Brooklyn wether from Israel or any country. All those products come with a huge Carbon foot print no matter how much cheaper it is. I don't say ban Israeli made products, but ban all out of USA products to make all their products GREEN!
Feb. 20, 2009, 10:48 am
Anthony Vassallo from South Slope says:
Bravo to A.O. An elegant solution.
Feb. 20, 2009, 1:28 pm
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
Ah, but what's a good co-op without a politically correct agenda?
Feb. 20, 2009, 3:45 pm
Sherif from Inwood says:
If you’re going to go ahead and write this:
>> Indeed, there are plenty of members of the Co-op who think Israel's
>> battle with rocket-launching Gaza militants is evidence that the
>> Jewish state is a violent thug.
>> You should also include that Gaza is under an illegal blockade by Israel, or
>> maybe that Israel is in violation of numerious UN Security Council
>> resolutions or that Israel is engaged in an illegal brutal military
>> occupation of Palestine.
>> As far as the apartheid charge, numerous South Africans have pointed out
>> that between Israel and the OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, the level of
>> apartheid is appalling, most notably Arch-bishop Desmond Tutu
>> Now, unless you were engaged in the South African apartheid and know it
>> first hand, you might want reconsider your disbelief of that reality.
Feb. 20, 2009, 4:09 pm
Charles from Bklyn says:
Hey Sherif ... this is America, not a third world middle east country. In this country, we generally tend toward reasonable thinking. That means, don't attempt genocide and then lose the war to commit that genocide. (1948 Palastine War and Six Day War). The anti-Jewish Arab and Muslim countries never realize that in order to win the good fight, the fight must come from an honorable source. Hate is never honorable, and I believe this hate has consumed you. Further, and unfortunately for you, Jewish people tend to shrug off the haters. We are so use to the hate it has become redundant and boring. This is especially true of your analogy defense. Be a man, and just admit you hate Jews, and then you and Hima can fall in love and teach your children the same.
Feb. 20, 2009, 5:51 pm
Peter from Carroll Gardens says:
It is illegal to boycott Israel. So it doesn't much matter what the co-op thinks.
Feb. 20, 2009, 8:26 pm
ethan from kensington says:
It is illegal for u.s. corporations and entities to act as an agent of a foreign government's boycott (or in this case, the arab league). It is not illegal to choose to stop purchasing Israeli products for your own reasons or in soldiarity with the call from Palestinian Civil Society.

As a Jew, I strongly support boycott as a means of non-violently resisting Israel's ongoing suppression of the rights of Palestinians.
For more information, see
Feb. 21, 2009, 11:56 am
Judy from DUMBO says:
Kuntzman - another PEP (Progressive Except for Palestine)...
Feb. 21, 2009, 5:38 pm
Andrew from manhattan says:
Charles, the only hate I perceive is your own. Sherif was just clarifying what everyone should know:
- gaza has been under seige since 2006
- israel occupies lands without giving rights to its citizens or disposessed refugees

I agree, why import from anywhere when there are local suppliers!?
Feb. 21, 2009, 7:08 pm
garf from wt says:
seriously?? the green environmentally friendly do the right thing coop is transporting "organic" produce from thousands of miles away - get a grip on the real issue here.
Feb. 21, 2009, 9:58 pm
John from PH says:
This whole "green" thing is the second biggest scam. Folks, there is no global warming. In the past two years it has been re-phrased as climate change. The earth's climate is actually turning to cooler temperatures for the next several decades. So all you green fanatics will take credit that you have prevented the destruction of the earth and cooler temps as proof. Meanwhile, the cooler temps are due to natural cycles and the lack of sun spots.
Feb. 21, 2009, 10:30 pm
Simkhe from Greenpoint says:
All local is a great idea. But go find persimmons - or even red peppers - within a 300-mile radius in February.
Feb. 22, 2009, 1:49 am
Joe from America says:
For the record: The Park Slope Food Co-op is NOT considering a ban on Nazi-made or -grown products.

Hell No! PSF Co-Op Loves US some NAZIS! Yeah! We'll keep wet-kissing the Nazi Israel products all the way until Nazi Israel nukes Brooklyn for being too mouthy!

Who cares if the fruit is grown on stolen land? Who cares about the massacres and ethnic cleansing that took place in order to steal that land? The blood inside the product tastes delicious!
Feb. 22, 2009, 11:17 am
Joe Meric from NYC says:
I support the boycott of all muslim products and businesses until muslims stop:

beheading their wives (buffalo last week) and murdering "infidels" (see any place on the globe every week);

end their illegal occupation of Israel including the Temple Mount;

stop the creation of chemical weapons plants in Syria

End irans efforts to build nuclear weappons & their threats to destroy Israel.
Feb. 22, 2009, 2:21 pm
abraham from Brooklyn says:
The recent genocide in Gaza was due to the fact that Jewish Israelis were running out of blood from Palestinian children, a critical ingredient for their matza ball soup.

Death to Israel...Death to zionism...death to Joe Meric from NYC.
Feb. 23, 2009, 2:48 am
Lorraine Stone from Park Slope says:
My sister owns a brownstone in Park Slope and I stay with her frequently. She called me about this Hima-proposed Israeli-products-boycott. The cynical stupidity of such a proposal - to economically punish Israel, to economically punish Jews - for having dared to defend their nation and themselves from years of vicious bombardment of innocent civilians by Hamas criminals (not "militants": gangsters and murderers who hold the Palestinian population hostage to their insanity) is ridiculously insane on its face. In World War II's final days, England bombed Dresden to dust, killing more Germans than Japanese who died in Hiroshima. Where is the world's condemnation of England? On 9/11 America retaliated against the Taliban in Afghanistan, likely killing more than our 3,000 American dead. No condemnation from anyone anywhere, including Moslem nations. Now, when Israel defends herself and her people from first degree murderers and attempted murderers, there is this sudden wailing at "injustice?" Where is similar moaning and groaning about Israeli dead at the hands of vicious gangsters parading themselves a "liberators" while they hold their female family members in bondage under threat (frequently carried out) of "honor kill" of their own sisters, cousins and daughters for daring to look at along with continuing to launch rockets - after the latests Gaza "cease fire" that Hamas instantaneously violated before the ink was dry? Why the deafening silence about Daniel Pearl's murder, along with the numerous beheadings and murders of innocents; the daily dose of homicide bombings, not only in Gaza and Israel, but in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? Where is the outrage about the Mumbai massacre, including the torture and murder of a young, pregnant mother and her husband, the parents of a 2-year-old boy whose heroic Hindu nanny managed to rescue him from certain death? The disgusting selective "outrage" exhibited by even the proposal to ban Israeli anything-at-all is the ultimate in cynicism and exploitive propaganda spoon-fed to receptive, all-but themselves suicidal in their gullibility and vulnerablity to the putative "do-gooders" who are so easily gulled by those who would like nothing better than to see America, and the entire world, moan under the yoke of a reversion to 7th century savagery.
Wake up: the whole of Western Civilization, including America, is under attack in precisely the same way as it was by Nazi/Fascist/Communist threats. Propaganda focused against our allies, including Israel, are intended to undermine the world's resolve to survive. It always starts small, as in even the proposal of a ban on Israeli products that are seen as "progressive" by befuddled well-intentioned. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Bear in mind: cancer starts with one diseased cell that, unchecked, results in catastrophe.
Feb. 23, 2009, 9:50 am
Michael Anthony from Park Slope says:
NOBODY, I repeat: NOBODY supports the Boycott, or the muslim arab Palestinians who murder and rocket Jews with ease.

My understanding is that most everyone in Park Slope, except one single solitary yahoo at the co-op, understands that Israel holds the moral high-ground in its war against criminal murderers and terrorists.

Was there really ever any question about this?
Feb. 23, 2009, 5:39 pm
Joe from America says:
Nazi Israel is a racist slave state. It's completely illegitimate, and should be deleted from the map pronto.

All those Russians and Poles can go the —— home. Dismantle your nukes on the way out the door, you blood-sucking parasites!

No more USA money to support Nazi Israel!
Feb. 23, 2009, 7:02 pm
Joe Meric from NYC says:
"My understanding is that most everyone in Park Slope, except one single solitary yahoo at the co-op, understands that Israel holds the moral high-ground in its war against criminal murderers and terrorists. Was there really ever any question about this?"

Certainly the posters who advocate the destruction of Israel and the killing of their supporters question it...
Feb. 24, 2009, 3:26 pm
Jason Esposito from Park Slope says:
Just who IS this "HIMA" exactly, anyway?

Is he or she willing to identify him/herself, anyway?

What exactly is he/she hiding?
Feb. 24, 2009, 4:55 pm
Stan LS from Gravesend says:

Nuff said.
Feb. 24, 2009, 6:34 pm
Jack from Boerum Hill says:
The only ban in this discussion seems to be of basic intelligence because anyone who can read would understand the following: THERE IS NO BAN AND THERE IS NO PROPOSAL OF A BAN. This was a case of an incompetent reporter creating a lie to do what exactly, I don't know.

The Jewish Daily Forward should be 100% ashamed and embarrassed by this mess. It makes nobody looks good and weakens the cause when REAL anti-Semitism rears it's head.

The only thing that truly exists is endless paranoid ravings from lunatics who cry anti-Semitism at any little thing. And in this case ONE person said ONE thing at a meeting, and now all of the sudden every Chicken Little is screaming "The sky is falling!"

Get a grip people. There is real/true anti-Semitism in the world and to see you folks get into a tizzy over 100% of nothing is infuriating.
Feb. 24, 2009, 7:22 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
I get every thing from Israel because he's my cousin and he's 100% Puertorican. So I don't think you shuold boycott him.
Feb. 24, 2009, 7:56 pm
az from c hts says:
to be fair, the coop did run with the story of a proposed boycott on the front page of the most recent edition of the coop newspaper. given the decision to trumpet the issue on page 1, the coop shares a decent amount of blame for the hysteria that ensued.
Feb. 25, 2009, 1:34 am
Jack from Brooklyn says:
AZ, they did not hype anything on page 1 of the "coop newspaper." I'm starting to wonder if there are people out there who really want to fight real anti-Semitism where it exists or are there just tons of paranoid folks with low self-esteem and anger issues out there looking to pick fights?

This who debacle and the response from the self-appointed guardians of anti-Semitism truly make me question the sanity of American Jews nowadays.

You all realize that by behaving this way you're simply perpetuating the stereotype that Jews are paranoid that everyone's out to get them?
Feb. 25, 2009, 4:55 am
Park Slope Guy from Park Slope says:
If the Food Co-Op does place a ban on Israeli products, I'll join.
Feb. 26, 2009, 3:11 pm
Barry from Brooklyn says:
You understand that with the current Hitlerian behavior of the Left - with calls of "Gas the Jews" common at peace demonstrations, and Jews all over Europe and Arabia being slaughtered by liberals on a daily basis - such a ban wouldn't be unheard of.

The Nazification of the Left is complete. The slaughter, boycott and demonization of Jews is key to the left-wing belief system. Just like the Left supported Hitler, supported Stalin, supported Arafat and support Bin Laden. So too the Left supports genocidal Jihad today.
Feb. 26, 2009, 3:59 pm
Jack from Brooklyn says:
Barry, I'd like to point out that while you are talking about "the Left" and "Hitlerian behavior", a true and sick anti-Semitic Catholic Bishop was kicked out of Argentina for being such an anti-Semite you almost think the guy kills kittens for fun...

* He believes the Holocaust didn't happen.
* He thinks skirts encourage adultery.
* He thinks husbands have a right to beat their wives.
* He's a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
* He said to another seminarian named Oppenheimer "...I don't like your name, there is a gas chamber waiting for you down at the lake"
* He demanded to see baptismal certificates from anyone he felt looked like a Jew.

And you know what the worst part is?
"An embarrassed Vatican claimed the pope had no knowledge of the bishop's views."

Yeah, right. They didn't know.

So basically Barry while you are going off the hook about a "ban" that doesn't exist, the Pope, Vatican and even the WHOLE COUNTRY OF ARGENTINA is trying to figure out what to do with a completely anti-Semitic loonball.

Barry, get your priorities straight. THAT GUY is a an anti-Semite. Protest anyone who defended that guy. Because if you want to talk about "Hitlerian behavior", looks like this Bishop has dreams of being used as an example of "Hitlerian behavior."

Yeeesh, is the sky green or blue? I don't know anymore.
Feb. 26, 2009, 8:09 pm
abraham from Brooklyn says:
Really, Barry? "Gas the Jews"? This is what you hear at peace demonstrations? Is that because you're the one uttering that phrase so you can later claim it is being heard at peace rallies?

Go run your hasbara on other ignorant clods like yourself, you douche.

Zionist Jews do not deserve air. They do not deserve water. They do not deserve what they seek to deprive of the Palestinians. They do not deserve LIFE.

Israel is an abomination in the eyes of Yahweh. Death to Israel. Death to zionism. Death and disease to zionist Jews.

Israel gone by 2025.
Feb. 27, 2009, 12:16 pm
John Frazier from Park Slope says:
The brutal, illegal, and immoral occupation of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel should be resisted by all in Brooklyn. A boycott of goods from Israel is an effective way to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation. The Park Slope Food Coop has a moral responsibility to support the boycott.
March 15, 2009, 9:01 am
Dave from says:
There is a good case for boycotting Israeli products. Read Naomi Klein's piece...
March 29, 2009, 9:57 pm
Jewzilla from Jew Heights says:
I hate Jews. Quit ——ing all the time.
Oct. 20, 2009, 7:08 pm

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