Three years after it was first suggested, the Park Slope Food Co-op will hold a referendum next month on whether the group should boycott Israeli imports like paprika and olive pesto, according to Metro.The co-op, one of the oldest and largest in the country, is immensely popular in Brooklyn, with over 16,000 members who take turns stocking shelves and delivering groceries around the neighbourhood.
The decision on whether to join Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — an organisation that boycotts Israeli products worldwide in support of ending Palestinian human rights abuses — has divided membership and led to outspoken opinions from personalities like Glenn Beck.
The boycott would have particular significance in Brooklyn, which is almost 25 per cent Jewish, and in Park Slope particularly — the neighbourhood is seen as one of the most desirable in the city, and a bastion of liberalism in an already liberal city.
Opinions are growing increasingly bitter on both sides. Co-op member Alan Deshowitz told Gothamist that, “Many of [the boycotters] are anti-Semites. Some of them don’t know they’re anti-Semites. That doesn’t give them a pass…We will stop at nothing to make them pay an extraordinarily heavy price for their bigotry.”
Supporters of the boycott, on the other hand, insist the ban has nothing to do with Jews personally. “The trope of calling all who criticise Israel anti-Semitic is absurd. Like me, many Jews work to end Israel’s occupation, settlements, land annexation, domination and violence,” said member Liz Roberts on her blog.
Considering that past referendums have focused on whether or not to sell beer in the co-op, this is easily the most divisive issue in the organisation’s history. The referendum — which will merely decide whether or not a vote should take place — will be held in March in Brooklyn Technical High School.
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