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The BDS Debate Comes to Park Slope

The famous Food Coop discusses boycotting goods

Marc Tracy
July 22, 2011
The Park Slope Food Coop.(Paul Lowry/Flickr)
The Park Slope Food Coop.(Paul Lowry/Flickr)

A perfect storm of Bobo contradictions is brewing at the Park Slope Food Coop, with a members-only meeting and vote scheduled next Tuesday over whether the Coop, which is perhaps the ultimate symbol of Brownstone Brooklyn, will vote discuss whether or not to join the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. [An earlier version read that there would actually be a vote. We regret the error.]

The most immediate concrete effect of the Coop’s endorsing the BDS movement will probably be on its hummus stocks. But obviously the stakes are far higher because it could be seen to represent liberal American Jews (who was it you thought belonged to the Coop?) rejecting Israel.

No one would be more plugged into this debate than Rabbi Andy Bachman, whose Congregation Beth Elohim is a few blocks from the Coop in Park Slope and who surely has plenty of congregants who buy their fresh produce there every week. So his official statement, in which he rejects the BDS movement, is worth a read. “A closer look at the BDS movement reveals that the basic assumption of Israel’s right to exist is not shared and in fact even a cursory look into BDS rhetoric reveals that the ultimate goal of the majority of its supporters is a dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state,” he argues. “The BDS movement singles out Israel as the sole offender in this painful and protracted conflict. Moreover, the BDS movement ignores the broader regional context and glaring human rights abuses in surrounding states that destructively impact the dynamics between Israel and the Palestinians. Finally, the BDS movement ignores the tremendous efforts being made on the ground, on a daily basis, to strengthen the hands of those in Israel and Palestine who daily work for peace.”

He, naturally, still has nice things to say about the Coop. Everyone loves the Coop. But for how much longer?

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.