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Park Slope Food Co-op suspends four members over Israel boycott spat

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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed its first casualties … of the Park Slope Food Co-op.

The iconic Union Street store — where members have been warring for eight years over whether they should boycott Israeli products to protest the country’s occupation of Palestine — recently suspended four long-time shoppers, who it found guilty of interrupting a meeting more than a year ago.

The exiled members acknowledge they literally pulled the plug on a presentation about the sale of an Israeli-made product by the pro-boycott bloc, but at least one contends that they should be praised for standing up to what she believes is a faction of “fascists” dedicated to spreading lies about Israel.

“I didn’t go up there to be a hero, but I am a hero,” said Rhudi Andreolli, a 43-year-long member of the co-op now serving her year-long suspension. “I stood up against tyranny and propaganda. This is so serious when you take a group of people and boycott them because you make up these vicious lies — in a co-op!”

The co-op’s members already voted to keep the store’s then four Israel-made goods in a high-profile 2012 referendum, which received national media attention with the likes of conservative commentator Glenn Beck and a bevy of politicians all weighing in.

But the boycott movement — whose ranks also include many Jewish members — continued, and tensions boiled over at meeting in April last year, where hundreds of members from both sides showed up for a presentation about the sale of Soda Stream, a make-your-own seltzer device which at the time had factories in the West Bank.

The presentation was reportedly proceeding amicably until the boycotters displayed a slide of an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian man, which the Zionist members took to be as an unconscionable propaganda piece, leading several of them — including the four who were suspended — to rush to the front of the auditorium and yank out the cords connecting a laptop to the co-op’s projector.

The [boycott] people put up a number of very proactive photographs,” said Alan Ettlinger. “I jumped up on the stage and tried to get them to take down the photographs.”

One presenter claims the co-op has never seen such a chaotic scene in its 43-year history.

“It was totally outrageous,” said pro-boycott member Thomas Cox, who has admittedly only been privy to five years of co-op proceedings. “We expected that there would be people who were upset, but we didn’t think it would be anything like that.”

Two months later, co-op leaders contacted Ettlinger, Andreolli and her sister, and another woman and notified them that they would have to face a disciplinary hearing — a process usually reserved for shoplifters and members who dodge their mandated work duties — and in April this year, a jury finally found them guilty of uncooperative behavior and sentenced them to the year in Key Foods purgatory.

Ettlinger believes the jury was stacked with pro-boycott faction members, though a co-op honcho maintains that the store’s scales of justice are as well balanced as those in its produce department.

“We did it in a very fair and deliberate way,” said co-op coordinator Joe Holtz. “It took a full year.”

But many of the co-operative grocery’s 16,500 members say they couldn’t care less about either side of the fight, and just want to shop for cheap organic bananas in peace.

“It’s a co-operative, isn’t that a political statement in and of itself?” said 39-year co-op member Arthur Johnson. “Boycotts and stuff I can’t pay attention to and I don’t.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 4:45 pm, June 30, 2016
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Reasonable discourse

Trollerskates from Moving Target says:
Perhaps the suspended members can just have their nannies shop for them. Or just go to Fairways, ffs.
June 29, 2016, 12:05 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
This is a cult!
June 29, 2016, 12:26 pm
Truth Teller from South Slope says:
Sorry - next time bring guns and kill those who dare to criticize Israel. Like you do there.
June 29, 2016, 12:53 pm
Chris from Park Slope says:
The Food Co-Op member meetings have become an internet comment thread on steroids. Extremists on both sides yelling real loud but accomplishing absolutely nothing in reality.
June 29, 2016, 1:30 pm
Josh from Astoria says:
"But many of co-operative grocery’s the 16,500 members say they could care less about either side of the fight,"

Couldn't care less. Come on man.
June 29, 2016, 1:55 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
It's Nazi grocery shopping.
June 29, 2016, 1:59 pm
eric from park slope says:
"Zionist members..." seriously? Nice objectivity!
June 29, 2016, 2:28 pm
octavio from greenpoint says:
the "Zionist members"? just because someone is opposed to an Israeli boycott, it does not make them Zionists.
June 29, 2016, 2:34 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
So removed from reality ...yet so entertaining. I'm gonna need more popcorn.
June 29, 2016, 2:40 pm
Anthony from Prk Slope says:
I thought the Boycott-Israel /BDS movement has already been exposed & "pants"ed as nothing but hateful, bigoted, misguided racists...

Here's just one example, out of many:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ottawa-cites-hate-crime-laws-when-asked-about-its-zero-tolerance-for-israel-boycotters-1.3067497

Why are we even still talking about them?
June 29, 2016, 3:06 pm
Flora Jones from Park Slope says:
I was at this meeting. The presentation by the BDS group was about wanting to boycott Soda Stream because the company had a factory in the West Bank. What was interesting was that the Coop board read a letter out loud which they had received from Soda Stream, in which the company informed the coop members that they would be moving their factory into mainland Israel. Despite having ostensibly gotten the outcome they were seeking, the BDS-ers still insisted on continuing their presentation on this topic and wasting everyone's time. The larger irony is that through their actions, the BDS movement has effectively removed one of the few good employment opportunities that existed in the West Bank. I don't like to accuse all BDS evangelists of being antisemitic, as I don't think it's that simple, but it does often feel like their allegiance to "the fight" is more important to them that are the facts.
June 29, 2016, 3:36 pm
Joe from Park Slope says:
Their mission statement only applies to those that agree with them. All else need not apply. Typical Hypocrites:
We are committed to diversity and equality. We oppose discrimination in any form. We strive to make the Coop welcoming and accessible to all and to respect the opinions, needs and concerns of every member.
June 29, 2016, 3:41 pm
Robert from Not Brooklyn, Thank God says:
The BDS movement is thinly-veiled anti-Semitism. Why the far left decided to get behind a cause championed by neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists is beyond me. What a sorry state of affairs.
June 29, 2016, 4:23 pm
carol from prospect heights says:
No, the Coop did NOT vote to keep Israeli goods. The vote was about whether or not to have a referendum (a vote by ALL members, not just those at the meeting) on the issue. So the Coop, while calling itself "democratic", is anything but. And to those who support Israeli policies, right or wrong, it is you who are destroying Israel and you who are hurting the Jewish community. Read the U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights on Israel and the Occupied Territories -if you dare!
http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper
June 29, 2016, 4:45 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
You see, the problem here isn't really about the goods themselves, but rather (and I hope you'll pardon the theory/fact) the mere gesture of the existence of the ingredients that, yes, in turn, DO add up to the sum of the parts (of which can be often argued by many, many men-and also women due to our current belief system in which I happen to agree with, being the PATRIOT that is, indeed: John Wasserman) that make something eventually a whole good/product. I'm sorry that I was the one to have to point this out, but I checked (above) and did not see this fact mentioned in the slightest. Having said that, I feel that it is very important to stress that your own John Wasserman is not a fan of this "COOP" and never has been (and these are for personal reasons, such as: "smell" and "not liking to wear a flashing vest" and "the hill"). I'm sorry if that sounds harsh and if I've let you down, I hope that you will grant me that particular pardon in advance, and also after the fact-if you don't mind.
John Wasserman
June 29, 2016, 5:05 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Shut up fake John Wassserman
June 29, 2016, 5:36 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I'm just as God made me, sir.
John Wasserman
June 29, 2016, 5:38 pm
Mitchel Cohen from Bensonhurst says:
I too was in the audience at the meeting in question. It's not just that the pro-Israel co-op members pulled the plug; I personally was witness to one pro-Israel disruptor threatening to punch "the lights out" of another co-op member who disagreed with him. The disruption went on for a long time, alienating the vast majority of coop members present who had come wanting to hear the proposal but who didn't have a fixed opinion.

I had written at the time a gentle parody of the event complaining about the lack of creativity in such protests, which the editors at the Linewaiters Gazette -- the Coop's newspaper -- refused to print. It turned out that it was one of many submissions rejected by the editors, which led to further concerns.

The Coop is not just a business. It came out of the anti-war and liberation movements in the early 70s as a way to help sustain people in those movements. Sure, things take on a life of their own over the years -- the Coop is the largest Food Coop in the country, with 16,000 members. And what issues it takes on reflect and also help to shape the ideas of its members and of the larger society.

I am Jewish, not at all self-hating, and I despise the actions that Israel is engaging in against the Palestinian people in my name and in the name of all Jews. It's more than a disgrace, it's criminal and immoral, and whatever we can peacefully do to stop those actions is in my opinion what makes us human beings in an era of robots.

Anti-Semitic? Hell no. Anti-Fascist? You bet.

Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens/Green Party
June 29, 2016, 6:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The boycott on Israeli products by the BDS has absolutely nothing to do with the treatment of the Palestinians whatsoever! In reality, the BDS is just another anti-Semitic group in disguise. If they really cared about the Palestinians, they should be convincing them to stop with terrorist attacks and telling them to sit down and talk peace with Israel, which they never do. Should they ever do that, they will most likely get killed on the spot by Hamas. As for Soda Stream, they were known for employing numerous Palestinians and paying them decent wages that they hardly got anywhere else especially in the West Bank itself. Thanks to the pressure from the BDS, the company was forced to leave and left so many of them unemployed. I'm glad that the Park Slope Food Co-op has called out those haters and put them in their place especially as being a native of Israel myself. Another reason I find the BDS to be anti-Semitic is that they constantly single out Israel for everything that they claim is human rights violations to such special standards while turning a blind eye to countries that do far worse human rights violations that what they claim Israel does, but I don't hear any boycotts on those countries from them ever.
June 29, 2016, 7:02 pm
Coop Member from Kensington says:
Just wanted to address a couple of things.

1. It's easy to ridicule and create a distorted image of the food coop. I'd say just about every story I have ever read about the coop gets it completely wrong. For many, it is a great place in Brooklyn that people are proud to be part of. It's also completely voluntary. If you don't want to join, don't. If you can't hack the work commitment, then shop elsewhere.

2. I'm not sure how I would vote on BDS, but this is why I'm glad we are having the debate. I've learned a lot from both sides. The situation over there is horrible and not improving at all. Both sides overstate their positions and the facts. Both sides feel fundamentally threatened. But it is important to me to hear from both sides.

3. I grew up Jewish. From my earliest memories, we are taught to consider Israel the most important thing in the world. I can't even count how much money I donated as a kid to plant trees in Israel. Everyone is encouraged to visit Israel. Holidays are spent pining on the day it can be celebrated in Israel. Israel is seen as the ultimate defense against another Holocaust. So, it is easy to see why many Jews will defend Israel no matter what the charges. It is also easy to see why anyone critiquing Israel might immediately be viewed as anti-Semitic.

4. The Israeli government was not always this far right. It is used to be a place defined by it's cooperative living style, Kibbutz. There is a progressive movement in Israel. There are many progressive Jews. There are also many progressive Palestinians. They are extremely marginalized.

5. Eventually, the coop will probably seek to restrict its business to progressively minded companies and non-profits. This was sort of suggested by someone that writes anti-BDS letters in the store newsletter. I don't think BDS will pass, but I also don't like the movement by some to try to stop the debate all together.

5. OK, go back to making fun of the coop. Or not. Whatever.
June 29, 2016, 7:04 pm
Magda from Bushwick says:
Squirting children here and there and everywhere.
June 29, 2016, 9:50 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
everyone realizes now that no one cares about Wasserman now, right? Or is it just "john wasserman" who cares. Pardon the interruption. Patriot John Wasserman
June 29, 2016, 10:14 pm
Cynthia U from Clinton Hill says:
OMG when does it end? Jews, Palestinians. Get over the drama it's friggen groceries. I rather shop at Whole foods no chaos.
June 30, 2016, 3:07 am
Antonia from Park Slope says:
Attention - take it from someone who was there, it was scary. I almost pooped my pants. They rushed at his macbook air pro with such force. A baby cried, it was very poetic. When they ripped the cables from the wall, it was like they were ripping my heart out of my chest. All the other people wanted to say was that the Soda Stream machine was responsible for genocide. Do you know that political prisoners in Isreal cannot get a real coca-cola, they have to drink soda stream brand cola produced in the comfort of their own home?
We have banned many products before for less. We stoped selling blackberries, and started selling proud berries of color. Feminine hygiende products were replaced with gender nuetral products for those unsure of their identity. Tomatoes are considered too violent, the red color reminds many of blood. I think that the majority of products should be pulled off the shelves to be honest.
June 30, 2016, 3:38 am
Robert Scott from Park Slope says:
First, thank you Antonia for the real perspective.
Israel, Israelis and other Jews are far from perfect but there is no doubt that the BDS and each and every BDS supporter is both anti-Semitic and pro Islamic terrorist. I wish that the BDS supporters would just stand up and own their bigotry and hatred instead of standing behind propaganda and lies and denial. The fact that extreme leftist Jews (who, from personal experience are mostly atheists with a Jewish family backgrounds) does not advance the BDS argument anymore than a Muslim suicide bomber blowing up other Muslims proves their form of Islam is truer than the victims. There are idiot self-haters in every group.
As for this article and its author, by your own word and tenor you have proven that antisemitism is alive and well, even in Jew York.
June 30, 2016, 8:03 am
DIBS from Ex-Bed Stuy says:
What's next, boycotting products from any companu with a Jewish CEO???
June 30, 2016, 8:46 am
Jose from Crown Heights says:
Is there a BDS movement that targets products from Muslim majority nations?
June 30, 2016, 9:48 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
DIBS, if the BDS has their way, they would definitely do that due their anti-Semitic nature.

Jose, the sole purpose of the BDS is to only boycott Israel, not any other country even if they commit far worse human rights violations than what Israel could do, and they will probably claim that their fight isn't with them anyway.
June 30, 2016, 5:41 pm
Lisa from Brooklyn says:
Still has the best groceries!
June 30, 2016, 6:39 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
It is your money. Don't give it to Israelis if you don't want to.
July 1, 2016, 12:03 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
LOL at this chimpout
July 1, 2016, 1:28 pm
Phantom from Bay Ridge says:
-- to protest the country’s occupation of Palestine--

The author of the article takes sides with this language.

I'd rather pay more at Fairway than put up with one minute of this endless nonsense at this super political co op
July 1, 2016, 3:18 pm
Ten Bears from Canarsie says:
All these pale face liberals boycotting Israel. Boycott yourselves for stealing my ancestors land. Pale face hypocrites speak with fork tongue. Point finger at Israel while occupy my north American land.
July 1, 2016, 3:22 pm
sharron eagle from all of bklyn says:
we don't have nannies the coop is not a political party we are food coop let BDS take their fight somewhere else
July 1, 2016, 6:03 pm
Benjamin Eagle-Staton from All of Brooklyn and The Bronx says:
The Park Slope food co-op has always been used for political action. 34 years ago the food co-op banned grapes and pepridge farm because of how the farmers and bakery workers were being treated. However, I must admit that the real problem is that the BDS movement is not doing anything over the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. What about adding the three letters ROT (right of return).....?
July 1, 2016, 6:09 pm
Criminal or Hero from People says:
Criminal or Hero You decide The BDS is a couch potato terrorist criminal organization That is operating out The park slope food co-op The BDS members have one thing in mind only is to bring down Israel and the Jewish people by stopping them from selling products in food co-op The BDS couch potato terrorist Organization go after universities colleges entertainers They are being funded probably By Hamas Iran and lefty haters of Israel and the Jewish people The co-op is run by commie yanker's gossipers and propaganda 90% of the members of the food co-op support the BDS too cowardly to say so In a indirect way They encourage these Poor defenseless Arab call them Palestinians so that they will do the dirty work and support these so-called Palestinian terrorist to go into a Jewish home in And murder A 13 -year-old girl in her bed And those who claim that they were at the general meeting on April 28, 2015 It was the BDS couch potato terrorist co-op members who attacked the protesters The BDS co-op members terrorize gossip and lies continuously at general meeting put up lying pictures If that was true why wasn't the person who who try to unplug. The project out Why was put that person put trial at the park slope food co-op Because it did not happen they are liars The BDS food co-op members pull a Protest hair and try to swing at another protester and threatening to throw them out Physically Why wasn't the police called Why isn't the federal government investigating the Park Slope food co-op people who are on food stamps and other programs are allowed to use them in the co-op It seems that the park slope food co-op is disguising themselves as a grocery store when they are politically BDS supportive the destruction of Israel Jewish people in America Why in the park slope food co-op standing trial But on a funny note this is crazy that it's happening in The people Republic of Brooklyn To the Citizens of the peoples Republic of Brooklyn if you not part of the solution you're part of the problem
July 3, 2016, 4:30 pm
Give me a break from The peoples Republic of Brooklyn Park slope says:
Give me a break BDS terrorist organization The progress of lefties Are as Progressive as the invention of the wheel These progressive hated of Israel the free world Jews have their heads in 12 century sandbox in the 21st-century Let's go back with this so call progressive stupidity that idiot worships Roman conquered Israel through out the Jews Change the name from Jerusalem to Palestine So the so-called Palestinians of today Call for the right to return ( so they must be descendent of Jews and they recognize that Jews are indigenous people and should return to the land of Israel and Jerusalem is the capital ) The BDS the progressive haters of Israel and the Jewish people Are no different the the Romans the Spanish Inquisition The Crusaders the holocaust The ottoman empire The British Because they occupied Israel and refuse to allow Jews to return to Israel and declared Jerusalem the capital Why are they BDS terrorist organization different just because they live in the 21st-century they still want to destroy Israel and the right for Jews to defend themselves in their own land They encourage the poor Arabs to kill Jews. Murder 13 year old girl in her own bed in Israel They change Judea& Samaria To the West Bank And this is what the left called progressive thinking They worship. The lefties Idol worshiping marxism Norm Chomsky What is his stupid name What was that stupid guy from Argentina that everybody wears a picture of him on their T-shirt Bernie Sanders They worship what they think they call human rights Oh yes they worship atheism Abraham was progressive and activists because he smashed false idol worshiping and gave us the concept of one God Who are the progressive at the general meeting the ones who stood up against the backwoods haters of Israel and the Jewish people Because it's organic doesn't make it kosher
July 3, 2016, 7:41 pm
Truth from The People says:
Anyone who shows any sympathy towards Palestinians is a terrorist and/or antisemetic. We got it. We have heard it 10,000 times and 10,000 more from the very hate filled Zionists who want to paint anyone who exposes their bloody hands as something evil. In case you haven't caught on, it doesn't work any more. Get a new tag line.

The Native American you have a point and I hold dearly my Cherokee roots but I would not support removing, destroying the homes of, nor killing the children of these "pale faced hypocrits" as you call them.

The reason the BDS boycott continues (for the uninformed individual) is because the factory was removed from the illegal settlement location to another region of native people who are also being exploited, the Bedouins.
July 23, 2017, 6:52 pm
Schecky from Yours says:
There is no occupation. Fourth Geneva Convention: Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to “all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party [by another High Contracting Party”. In other words, it is about occupation of the territory of one country that is signatory to the Convention by another signatory. However, while both Israel and Jordan were sig- natories to the Convention when the 1967 war erupted, the conquest of the West Bank by Israel cannot be considered “occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party,” since in 1948, Jordan occupied the West Bank through “aggressive conquest,” which was unlawful, and two years later it unilaterally annexed the area, an act recognized by only two members of the inter- national community, Britain and Pakistan. Conversely, Israel’s conquest of the West Bank in 1967 was defensive and lawful. Jordan was not a legitimate sovereign in the area, and so the Israeli presence there is not “occupation” within the meaning of this term in the Geneva Conven- tion, it is more like "liberation". Thus the Convention does not apply to the West Bank. (Before its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel used the same argument with regard to that area). This being said, Israel has voluntarily applied the humanitarian provisions of the Convention to the conquered Arabs.
At no time in recorded history going back at least 4,000 years, has a 'State of Palestine' or a 'Kingdom of Palestine', ever existed. At NO TIME in recorded history, has 'Palestinian CITIZENS' inhabiting a self-governed 'State of Palestine' or 'Kingdom of Palestine' with any established capital city, ever existed. NOWHERE in the Hebrew Bible, Christians Bible or Muslims Quran, is the land of Israel ever once referred to as being a 'Palestine' not one verse.
Furthermore,
The '1922 League of Nations Mandate' 'Mandate for Palestine', is another name that's used that guaranteed Jews the legal right to 'immigrate to/settle in' any and all land between the Jordan river and Mediterranean sea, is STILL-VALID international law in this month of March of 2018. It also became a part of established U.S. law by way of a 'Joint Resolution' by the U.S. Congress, on June 30, 1922. What that means is that the United States government officially recognizes the '1922 League of Nations Mandate', as being valid international law. The U.S. State Department today, still does so. Arabs were granted the exact same legal rights to the geographical area east of the Jordan river ... modern-day Jordan. Jordan is their --> 'ARAB Palestine State' today, and has been for decades. There are no 'illegal Jewish settlements' anywhere west of the Jordan river, regardless of what any Israel-haters attempt to claim. No modern-day 'anti-Israel U.N. Security Council Resolutions' can take away the legal rights that Jews obtained, in 1922. 'Article 80 of the U.N. Charter' established in the mid 1940's, forbids the United Nations itself, from tampering with any pre-1945 established international laws.
June 12, 2:07 am

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