Members of the Park Slope Food Co-Op voted down a proposed referendum to
ban Israeli foods by a landslide, with 1005 voting against and 653
voting for it.
The local food fight drew
international attention on Tuesday and senior New York politicians lined up to
weigh in on the debate.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Public Advocate
Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn were among those who
came out strongly against the boycott.
“I think it has nothing to do with
the food,” Bloomberg was quoted as saying by The New York Times
. “The issue is
there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred,
and America is not going to let that happen.”
Advocates of the boycott
rejected claims of anti-Semitism, saying their aim was to apply pressure on the
Israeli government to stop abuses of Palestinian rights.
“We are for the
rights and security of both Jews and Palestinians, but support the boycott
because of Israel’s decades-long discriminatory policies against Palestinians,”
wrote Carol Wald, a member of the co-op that backs the boycott.
believe Israel’s policy on settlements must be actively protested and that an
end to the occupation and equal rights for Palestinians are
The battle over the proposed ban has split the 15,000 co-op
members into three main camps: proponents, opponents and the indifferent. In
recent weeks, activists from both sides have stood outside the Park Slope food
store trying to persuade passersby to support their cause.
The number of
Israeli products carried by the co-op, which includes paprika and soda makers,
is relatively negligible.
But supporters of the ban say it would send a
strong message to Israel to curb alleged violations of Palestinian
Supporters of Israel, on the other hand, say that the country is
being singled out unfairly and that the boycott is a veiled form of