Brooklyn ‘food fight’ on Israel boycott reaches boil

Co-op members in Brooklyn to take part in first of two votes on proposal to ban Israeli products.

PRO-PALESTINIAN protesters hold a banner 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
PRO-PALESTINIAN protesters hold a banner 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict spilled over into Brooklyn on Tuesday night when locals were getting ready to vote on a proposed boycott of Israeli products.
Thousands of members of the Park Slope Food Co-Op were set to gather at the Brooklyn Technical High School at 7 p.m. for the first of two votes on a a proposed ban on Israeli foods.
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 decadeslong discriminatory policies against Palestinians,” wrote Carol Wald, a member of the co-op that backs the boycott.
“We believe Israel’s policy on settlements must be actively protested and that an end to the occupation and equal rights for Palestinians are imperative.”
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 rights.
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 anti-Semitism.