What boycott?


A month ago I wrote that reports that the Park Slope Food Coop was considering a proposal to boycott Israeli products and, in the process, testing the member-owned market’s "unusual Jewish character," were more than a bit overheated.

Well, the coop is still obsessing over the issue, but not in the way those reports predicted. The past three issues of the store’s newsletter, The Linewaiters’ Gazette, have been filled with letters about the boycott — the overwhelming majority of them opposed to the idea. By my count, only one writer supports a ban.

But two other developments are even more significant. For one, the issue still hasn’t been raised as an agenda item — a crucial first step towards any boycott. The sole public voicing of support for a ban remains the off-the-cuff remark made at a recent general membership meeting.

Even more noteworthy is that the coop itself appears opposed to the very idea. In the March 12 edition of the Gazette, the store’s general coordinator, Joe Holtz, noted that in 1987 the coop adopted a series of guidelines for discussing future boycott proposals, among them the consideration of whether a "significant number of coop members" would be upset if the items were stocked. "My view is that unless we can agree on a boycott in vast majority numbers, we will do damage to our cooperative spirit, and our mission," Holz wrote.

In the follwing issue, another coop staffer, General Coordinator Allen Zimmerman, had this to say of a boycott: "It will have no effect at all on the other side of the world and its divisiveness can cause great harm to the coop. My concern is for the welfare of the coop and its members: a boycott is a serious distraction from the important coop work and a perfect opportunity to spread misunderstanding of the coop throughout the media."

Looks like the coop’s "rare hotbed of diverse Jewish life" will survive another day.

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