Monday, March 19, 2012

When The Coop Is In The Balance

My cousin Barbara Simon Mazor is short (like me), opinionated (also like me) and definitely a rabble rouser (even more like me, therefore making this a trifecta.) Since I didn’t have a little sister of my own, watching Barbara follow in some of my footsteps has always made me smile. But it’s what she's done recently that makes me…no... ALL of us in this family, so proud of her that our buttons are ready to bust!

Barbara and her family live in Brooklyn and are members of the Park Slope Food Coop. Now, that might not seem like a big deal, but lately, her membership has been the cause of national attention. Following in the fine Simon tradition of rabble-rousing, Barbara has taken on the national  BDS movement that has raised its ugly head at the Park Slope Food Coop. Next week, on March 27th, the Coop's general meeting will vote on whether or not to hold a referendum on joining the boycott of Israel. 

If you don’t know what BDS is, let me explain: Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions is a movement pushing for sanctions against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. However,  Barbara defines it's actual nature quite succinctly when she says, 

“BDS is not about bringing peace to the region.  Its goal is to delegitimize 
Israel and ultimately to bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish country.  
BDS is Bigotry. Dishonesty. Anti-Semitism.”

The BDS movement's demonization of Israel does not recognize the reality of how the territories came to exist, the role of the Arab nations in the conditions within the territories, and the constant barrage of missiles and violence against the civilian population of Israel. Instead, they call Israel an apartheid nation even though Israeli Arabs are 100% Israeli citizens and Arabic is an official language of the State of  Israel. Israeli Arabs hold elected office, serve in the IDF, and partake fully of everything Israel offers all its citizens. To be sure, Israel is not perfect, there are issues even amongst its Jewish citizenry, but Israelis are Israelis are Israelis regardless of race, color, or creed. Name one Arab state with those credentials. You cannot. No Arab state exists with that kind of equality. 

The territories, however, are not Israel. They should be their own country by now, but they lack leadership, an economy, and a working infrastructure. Lobbing dozens of missiles at elementary schools does not produce a functional state. Anywhere else, that behavior would arouse world anger, abhorrence, and condemnation, but when the Palestinians do it, it's seems to be okay. Israel is told that the missiles are their fault...kinda like blaming the victim of a rape. But hey! It’s just Jewish kids hunkering down in bunkers. They should be used to that. Their great-grandparents lived in ghettos. Their grandparents were kept in concentration camps. A bunker should be no great shakes. Right?

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran 
BDS has done nothing to actually help the Palestinian people. They have their spent capital on finger pointing and blame.  What they have done is to provide yet another platform for hate rhetoric aimed at a country that is already struggling with finding a resolution, where most of the population wants a two state long as the other state recognizes it fundamental right to exist. Israel wants a peace partner that does not call for its destruction as part of the  national covenant. BDS holds rallies on college campuses around the country, spreading a web of half-truths and outright lies. They condemn Israel for protecting her own children, yet they remain silent on other regimes killing their own people within their own borders. Where is their outrage for Syria or Sudan?

But this really isn't about that. Ultimately, this is about the Coop itself and the desire by some to alter its intended function. Early on, Barbara started a blog, STOP BDS AT THE PARK SLOPE FOOD COOP  where she laid out a rather matter-of-fact scenario about how dominoes fall when you politicize an organization like the Coop. She asked, in essence, what if 

“…1000 coop members resign, requesting the return of their $100 member 
investment. The coop has to come up with $100,000. Weekly sales drop by 
$50,000, which is about $10,000 in mark-up. 5 coop staffers are laid off.”

The reality is that even in an organization as large as the Park Slope Food Coop, which numbers about 16,000, a thousand members resigning would have a huge financial impact. 

Samantha Bee and Barbara Mazor
So because of a combination of factors, coupled with Barbara's determination that this will not go silently into the night, the issue started showing up in local papers. The next thing you know, there's Barbara in the Wall Street Journal. The Forward is talking about her blog. Suddenly, she's being interviewed on the radio and for other papers. The Grey Lady herself, the New York Times, started covering the story. And as if that is not enough (dayanu) The Daily Show dispatched Samantha Bee over to Brooklyn to go shopping at the Coop with my little cousin. According to that which we know, the interview will air on March 26th, the day before the referendum. We're just hoping they used her as the straight man....

But all joking aside; the existence of the State of Israel is no joke. That they are threatened daily by the neighboring states is no joke. BDS brings nothing to the table; they do nothing but drive a wedge deeper between both sides. Instead of helping the Palestinians to reach a place where they can live and work and love their children in peace, they have further entrenched everyone in a war of words that benefits no one.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Planning on attending the meeting? 
Do everyone a favor and let Barbara know.
Just post a comment on her blog


  1. Brava, brava, brava!

    ( and I think Bee is Canadian , BTW!)

  2. Great article.Should be on the front page of every Jewish magazine and the Sun Herald as
    well as the Washington Post and the New York Times. I am so sick of Israel always getting knocked by people who are obviously biased and anti semetic. Dina

  3. Excellent article, Susan. It shows to your advocacy for justice and sound thinking runs in the family.

  4. Thank you. I wasn't aware of the issue. Yasher Koach!


  6. I don't know... You make no mention of all the Israelis who want to keep the West Bank forever, without rights for Palestinians, ever. That seems to me to eviscerate your idea that the Palestinians would have rights if it weren't for their own actions. Besides, resisting occupation is legal under international law; prolonged occupation and population transfer is not.

    1. Israeli Supreme Court has made the illegal status of the settlements very clear. That said, I think the residents should be given the choice to remain...and live in Palestine, or leave and go back to Israel. [note...there was an altercation in Hebron today on this very issue.]

      Israel has Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Ba'hai citizens. It affords all faith groups equal protection under the law. Any group attempting to change that is promptly smacked down by the courts. That is NOT the case in Palestine. They have made it clear they want their state to be Judenrein...Jew Free. If someone wants to live in the area known a Samaria, they should be able to no matter what their religion whether its country is Palestine or Israel.

      If the Palestinians want to have a nation, they should be concentrating on having a working economy and partnership with ALL its neighbors. They should spend their money on schools that teach math and science instead of hate and martyrdom. They should be urging their kids to be expanding their intellectual boundaries instead of how to make bomb vest. As it is often said, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity. They have squandered so much talent and resource in the quest for what? Bloodshed?

      The absolute destruction of Israel is demanded in Articles 15, 19, 20, 22, and 23 of the al-Mithaq al-Watani al-Filastini, the Palestinian Charter. How do you trust someone to be a partner when they are planning to blow you up?

      I'm just askin'.........

    2. Whether or not that's true, BDS still does nothing for Palestinians. You can stand there and complain, or you can pitch in.

      This reminds me of the hurricaine in Haiti. BDS people roundly criticized Israel for lending a hand because it was seen as a public relations stunt. Yet did BDS collectively travel to Haiti, grab a shovel and start digging toilets? Let me know if you find any articles to the contrary and I'll take it back.