Do you support the Olympia Food Coop Board of Directors decision to initiate a boycott of Israeli goods?


Please comment.

I would like to hear as much input as possible on this.


Thanks to the Olympia Food Co-op Board of Directors, Co-op Staff*, and the organizers of the Olympia BDS Movement! The boycott is correct.

Peace is Possible!


Correction: This was a board-level decision, not a staff-level decision.

I just talked with a co-op staffer who wanted to let me know that they just had a difficult interaction with a co-op member about this. And so I want to clarify that not all staff members supported this decision (there were even blocking concerns by some staff-members.)

Some staff are supportive, some oppose the decision, so I encourage people not to focus their feelings on the staff.

Again, feedback about the boycott goes to the board:

There are also sheets of paper with more information available at the co-op.

Peace is Possible!

Need to know more...

...and to be honest, it would probably make a lot more sense to launch a blanket boycott of American-made goods –– considering that the U.S. has occupied a lot more places and killed a lot more people than Israel has during the same period. And don't get me started on who's treated the original inhabitants of their territory worse.

Response to JP

JP, I agree that the US should be kicked the hell out of Turtle Island. Or at the very least, we must protest the policies of our government. I do it all the time. However, different tactics for different problems.

The argument you make could just as well be made to avoid boycotting apartheid South Africa. The point is that this boycott is part of an international grassroots campaign. That's what makes it significant.

It would be difficult to boycott US goods while living in the US (although I guess neoliberal globalization, multinational corporate conglomerations, and outsourcing might make it easier). And currently, none of the zillions of peoples oppressed by the US are calling for an international boycott campaign against the US.

On the other hand, there are Israelis who are asking us to boycott their own country. They can't do it while they're in Israel, although they are opposing Israel's policies in other ways while asking us to assist them through boycott.

I also don't feel that I am minimizing the genocide of the indigenous peoples of this land when I say that the process of driving Palestinians out of their own lands continues to this day with our support, and this must be addressed.

I must backtrack a little and acknowledge that the Co-op has in the past boycotted Colorado, and a boycott of Arizona would be a good thing, too.

I already do....

Most everything I buy is made in China already.

I Agree—Boycott the USA

I agree, I would love to see a blanket boycott of products from the USA. Go Cascadia! Economic autonomy!

Peace is Possible!

If the products

are produced by Zionists then a boycott is in order. If not, well then I can't be so sure. An analogy might be organic farmers in Arizona.

Perhaps it is ethically acceptable to inflict economic collective punishment.

My thinking about this subject not well developed. Like rob I would benefit from a good discussion on this topic.

I'd really like to hear from SMASH on this...

Long response to Laurian

I appreciate Laurian's comments, particularly since he makes a comparison to Arizona, and he's not afraid to state that he hasn't fully developed his thoughts on the matter.

Here are my own thoughts:

1. Israel is the largest foreign recipient of US funding. The US already gives Israel $3 billion or more annually. That's equal to or more than the total aid that the US gives to all of sub-Saharan Africa. This aid to Israel has been in place for decades. A boycott does not offset this. Even with a boycott, the balance would still weigh significantly in Israel's favor. I'm not sure one can call it "economic collective punishment" when Israel still comes out ahead with our taxpayer dollars.

2. Regarding the analogy to organic farmers in Arizona: The fact that a product is grown organically does not excuse the state's racist and xenophobic policies. Those are two different things; an organic farmer can still be a racist asshole. However, I get your point that a blanket boycott can affect people with good hearts. However, the problem with Israel's policies are institutional and systemic. We can't split up people into "good" or "bad," necessarily (or "Zionist/non-Zionist," which is a problematic label). They all profit from the occupation. Israeli businesses particularly profit from the Gaza and West Bank markets. Gazans are forced to buy Israeli simply because those are the limited types of imports that Israel allows into Gaza. West Bank Palestinians must buy Israeli because Palestinian-made products, although produced locally, have a harder time reaching consumers due to Israeli-imposed checkpoints and roadblocks. This means that Israeli goods are cheaper than the more local Palestinian goods.

3. With that said, the Co-op boycott of Israeli goods is not absolute. "Peace Oil" brand olive oil is exempt because it is fairly traded with Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Galilee.

4. Most protests produce some limited harm to unintended targets. Think about labor strikes. Those not involved in the actual labor dispute are still expected to honor the picket line. And the recipients of goods and services produced by the striking laborers lose access to those goods and services. Unfortunately, sometimes a strike is the only option left. Likewise, boycotts provide a nonviolent alternative to actions that could cause even more harm than good. If we rule out such nonviolent alternatives, then we allow no options other than to accede to oppression or resist through violence or other desperate measures.

5. The goal of the international BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign is not to destroy Israel economically. It is to exert political pressure by disrupting regular economic exchange. The status quo economic exchange is a tie that binds many parts of the world into complicity with Israel's policy. Disrupting that exchange sends a political statement that Israel already feels, even though its economy may not yet be dented by the campaign. It must be emphasized that the political impact affects Israel's global relations long before it could ever reach the pocketbook of the average Israeli.

6. Now I should note that the "average Israeli" is slightly misleading. 20% of the Israeli population is non-Jewish Palestinian, and they have second- or third-class citizen status. Even if the economy falters, the first ones impacted is this segment of Israel. This is the same segment whose civil society organizations made the initial call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions. Even though they would bear the brunt of any economic sanction, they see that as a necessary sacrifice to achieve greater freedom in the long run.

Here, I am reminded of statements made by black South Africans who endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions on apartheid, knowing full well that such measures would harm them. I'll quote Chief Albert Luthuli, former ANC President:

"The economic boycott of South Africa will entail undoubted hardship for Africans. We do not doubt that. But if it is a method which will shorten the day of blood, the suffering to us will be a price we are willing to pay. In any case, we suffer already, our children are oftne undernourished, and, on a small scale (so far), we die at the whim of a policeman.

And Steve Biko:

"The argument is often made that loss of foreign investment would hurt blacks the most. It would undoubtedly hurt blacks in the short run, because many of them would stand to lose their jobs, but it should be understood in Europe and North America that foreign investment supports the present economic system and thus indirectly the present system of political injustice. We blacks are therefore not interested in foreign investment. If Washington wants to contribute to the development of a just society in South Africa, it must encourage investment in south Africa. We blacks are perfectly willing to suffer the consequences. We are quite accustomed to suffering."

Palestinian leaders who endorse the boycott campaign are even being imprisoned by Israel. Now there's even a bill in the Knesset that attempts to criminalize endorsement of boycott by Jewish Israelis. There are a number of Israeli Jews who are calling on the world to boycott Israel. Even Prime Minister Netanyahu's sister-in-law endorses boycott! Now they are risking jail time to call for boycott. The point is there are already people suffering just calling for the world to institute BDS.

7. This boycott is nowhere comparable to Israel's closure of Gaza, designed to inflict, according to the Israeli gov't, true "economic warfare," ensure "no development," and to put Palestinians "on a diet." Unfortunately, a recent Israel poll found that 73% of Israeli Jews supported this. (Non-Jewish Israelis were not polled because their opinions sadly do not count.)

8. Finally, we should ask ourselves whether such concerns would apply to other boycotts. For instance, are we concerned about what the Co-op's current China boycott does to average Chinese, or what it's Colorado boycott (due to legalized discrimination of lesbians, gays and bisexuals in 1992) did to Coloradans? And do we apply the same standards and concerns to a potential Arizona boycott?


I'd prefer a targetted boycot if that was possible

Do we know who the producers are and how they stand on these issues?  A general boycot treats them as if they are all the same. Perhaps that's true, but I don't know.

How exactly

did this decsion get made? Where did the idea come from and how did it become policy?

Laurian I agree with this "Perhaps it is ethically acceptable to inflict economic collective punishment." beacuse the this is what the Israeli govt is doing in Gaza. Quite ironic to engage in a similar tactic.

Boycott Announcement


The Board of Directors has decided that the Olympia Food Co-op will boycott Israeli made products and divest from any investments in Israeli companies.  The Co-op would stop carrying the Israeli products it currently sells and would not stock new products from Israeli companies.  If the Co-op has money invested in Israeli companies or bonds, we would terminate those investments.  We would refrain from dealing with non-Israeli companies that sell products or services to Israel that are used to violate the human rights of the Palestinians.


Members requested that the Co-op honor the international call for boycott. The Board made the decision while following the Olympia Food Co-op Boycott Process (available at the Co-op website at    The Board consulted and used the Co-op Mission Statement and the By-Laws to guide in making this decision:

From the Mission Statement:

Support efforts to foster a socially and economically egalitarian society

From the By-Laws:  

Adopt policies which promote achievement of the mission statement and goals of the Cooperative 

Why boycott?

Boycott is a nonviolent tool for social change that has been tested and proven effective in a variety of campaigns. It is an essential part of the engaged civilian’s toolkit and is an empowering process that everyone can participate in.


There is a rich history of boycotts for social change, from the Indian “Swadeshi” boycott of British goods, to the Montgomery bus boycott in the 1950s, to the California grape boycott in the 1960s, or the more recent Coalition of Immokalee Workers boycott of Taco Bell.


The Olympia Food Co-op has engaged in a number of nationally and internationally called boycotts including:  products from China (human rights abuses); products from Norway (whaling abuses); products from Colorado (anti gay legislation); Gardenburgers (farmworker abuses) and more.


Perhaps the best example of this nonviolent tactic used to change the policies of a country is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS) on apartheid South Africa. As Nelson Mandela has pointed out; “Boycott is not a principle; it is a tactic depending upon circumstances….A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions which support that policy either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change.”

Why an Israeli products boycott?

The Israeli products boycott is part of a nonviolent international grassroots campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) to compel Israel to follow international law and respect Palestinian human rights.


The campaign’s clearest statement comes from a 2005 call for international action, signed by nearly 200 Palestinian civil society organizations and endorsed by prominent activists from Desmond Tutu to Arundhati Roy to Naomi Klein.


Isn’t this “anti-Israel”?

Criticizing US foreign policy is not anti-American and Israeli supporters of BDS are not anti-Israel. Supporting BDS is no more anti-Israel than boycotting South Africa is anti–South Africa or anti-White or boycotting China is anti-Chinese. Boycott is a nonviolent people-powered tool for change. This is about working for peace and justice in the region.


When BDS was leveled on South Africa, the goal wasn’t to “delegitimize” South Africa, to eliminate white South Africans, or to destroy South Africa. The goal was specific: To end Apartheid and the human rights abuses associated with it. That was the goal. BDS was the tactic.

Why should the Co-op honor the boycott?

The Olympia Food Co-op operates with an awareness of economic, ecological, and social justice, which is imbued in its mission and in its policies. The Co-op has a history of factoring in social ethics to its merchandising decisions — choosing not to carry certain products due to a workers’ strike or an existing boycott campaign. The Co-op has also refused to stock items that contain packaging construed as racist or sexist.


Because the Co-op understands that social ethics and social justice are inseparable from providing the community with goods, it is only appropriate that the Co-op honors the boycott campaign, which fits perfectly with its existing boycott policies. Honoring the boycott help the Co-op live up to its goals and mission statement.


What ends the boycott?


As outlined in the Palestinian Call for Boycott, the boycott will end when:

1.     Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the Wall;


2.     Israel recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality;  

3.     Israel respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their    homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

As a member, how do I give input on this decision?

The Board welcomes all feedback from members.  You can contact us by emailing or by calling our business office at 357-1106  ext 12




Response to CIAGuy

CIAGuy, this is not anywhere close to what the Israeli gov't is doing in Gaza as I just explained in response to Laurian. If all Israel was doing was not purchasing Gaza products, that wouldn't be a big deal. But Israel is prohibiting Gaza exports and preventing Gaza from having any form of economic development. Gaza is not allowed to rebuild, its factories are not allowed to produce, and to top it all off, it is forced to by Israeli goods. Israel even produced charts to determine how many calories each Gazan would need to survive, broken down by age and sex. The Co-op boycott is nowhere close to a taste of Israel's own medicine.

I'm surprised that some people are more concerned that the Co-op won't carry Israeli ice cream cones than they are about what Israel is doing to Gaza (not directed at you in particular). But then again, the boycott is an educational opportunity.

In response to where the idea came from, the original call came in 2005, when 170+ Palestinian civil society groups in Palestine and Israel called on the international community to impose the nonviolent tactic of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Perhaps the most enthusiastic supporters are South African trade unions, which have reiterated the call and have also asked the international community implement BDS.

The suggestion to the Co-op was first introduced two years ago by a Jewish Co-op volunteer. (I mention Jewish because that information is important to some.) The Co-op sat on it for two years until the issue was finally brought up again. It was found to conform to the Co-op's boycott principles and was instituted.

The Co-op has a long tradition of observing boycotts and being very conscious of the nature of the products it carries.


Thank you Phan and Rob and CIA Guy

It is this kind of thoughtful debate that makes me think the Intertubes might have the ability to mke me a wiser person.

Info leaflet here

I've been answering some of the questions posed, so I should clarify that I am not a Co-op board member or staff. I'm just a strong proponent of the BDS campaign and a proud member of the Co-op. I wasn't always a big advocate for boycott around the Palestine/Israel conflict, but it was through time and careful consideration that I realized how essential it was.

There is a lot of information to digest and a lot of misinformation to sift through. I helped prepare a two-page handout for people to get a better idea of the boycott. There's also a 40-page packet of info and more to come.

Anyway, here's the two pager (PDF). I hope it helps.

This is just another one of those...

...pathetic, self-satisfied, limousine-liberal empty gestures that mean nothing and accomplish nothing. Seriously, how many of your lifestyles will be impacted by swearing off Israeli products? Yeah, I thought not -- just more useless posturing.


I love Phan's assertion that "... currently, none of the zillions of peoples oppressed by the US are calling for an international boycott campaign against the US .... On the other hand, there are Israelis who are asking us to boycott their own country." Really? NONE of the people we're screwing over have called for a boycott of the US? Wow! And who are those Israelis asking us to blanket boycott their country's products? People and companies who are actually practicing fair trade, fighting for social justice and paying a living wage to their workers? Yeah, I though not -- just more limousine liberals, of the Israeli variety this time.


So are you boycott supporters really willing to put your money where your mouths are and actually call for a global boycott of American-made goods –– given that we not only have a worse invading/occupying/killing record than the Israelis, but also pump tens of billions of our taxpayer dollars into their war machine each year? Yeah, again, I thought not. Tell you what, just keep signing your unread petitions, attending your cocktail party fundraisers and holding up signs encouraging your friends to honk for ____________. You're really changing the world.



Reply #2 to JP

I fear that JP has already run out of arguments and is resorting to name-calling.

JP doubts my assertion that there is currently no international campaign calling for a boycott against the US but does so by merely responding, "Really?" and "Wow!" and "NONE...?" which does not qualify as a rebuttal. A true rebuttal would call for JP to actually prove me wrong rather than contrive skepticism.

JP dismisses all supporters of BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) as "limousine liberals," while simultaneously dismissing BDS because the only supporters of BDS are "limousine liberals." That's a circular argument:

1. Anyone who supports BDS is a "limousine liberal."
2. BDS is stupid because only "limousine liberals" support it.

JP goes further and dismisses Israeli supporters of BDS as "limousine liberals" as well, implying that Israelis who support BDS don't count, because they are "limousine liberals." That's circular, too.

1. Anyone who supports BDS is a "limousine liberal."
2. Israeli supporters of BDS don't count because they're just "limousine liberals."

JP claims that Israeli supporters of BDS are not "fighting for social justice" (as if fighting for social justice could never include boycotts) and asks, "[W]ho are those Israelis asking us to blanket boycott their country's products?"

Here's a sample:

Yonatan Shapira, Israeli Air Force captain and co-founder of Combatants for Peace. Combatants for Peace is a group that unites former Palestinian and Israeli fighters to work together nonviolently against the occupation. Yonatan was arrested by Israeli soldiers/border guards a couple of weeks ago on trumped up charges.

Matan Cohen, an Israeli activist who has been nonviolently confronting Israeli military aggressions in the West Bank since he was a teenager. At age 17, he was shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers at a nonviolent protest.

Neve Gordon, an Israeli professor who was severely injured in combat when he served in the IDF. He has been subjected to several death threats and calls to be fired.

Maya Wind, an Israeli "shministi" who served jail time for publicly refusing to join the Israeli military.

Ofra Ben Artzi, the sister-in-law of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She was arrested when she protested the expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah.

Yonatan Pollak, a well-known Israeli activist who has been assaulted by Israeli soldiers multiple times at demonstrations -- once suffering from a concussion and two internal brain hemorrhages after being shot in the head with a tear gas canister.

Those are just some Israeli "limousine liberals," of course. I'm not even citing the many Palestinian Israelis who support BDS. Here are a few non-Israeli "limousine liberals" who support BDS on Israel:

Desmond Tutu, who frequently cites the effectiveness of BDS in ending apartheid. Because of his criticism of Israel and support for BDS, Tutu has been labeled an anti-Semite, been banned from traveling to Palestine at times, and was called a "black Nazi pig" in Jerusalem.

Stéphane Hessel, co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hessel was a French resistance fighter during World War II. He survived detention at Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the largest trade union federation in South Africa. COSATU was on the front lines in the fight against apartheid and promoted BDS as a tool to end apartheid.

Angela Davis, famous civil rights activist.

...and so on.

Honestly, I can't tell where JP is coming from. JP declares that boycotting "is just another one of those pathetic, self-satisfied, limousine-liberal empty gestures that mean nothing and accomplish nothing" but then challenges us to "put your money where your mouths are" and boycott the US -- an impossible task for someone living in the US (and even difficult for those living outside the US). JP also dismisses petitions, fundraisers, and demonstrations but suggests boycotting as the only viable option and the US as the only viable target. At the same time, JP has made no effort to institute this US boycott other than to announce it on OlyBlog.

My suspicion is that JP is one of those people who do nothing and get worked up when other people take the initiative to do something. Then all of a sudden JP dismisses other peoples' actions as ineffective without showing what could actually work. JP seems to know more about the effectiveness of boycotts than do Desmond Tutu and COSATU. JP would have mocked the Civil Rights movement and the anti-Apartheid movement as "useless posturing." After all, one is not allowed to boycott South Africa until one boycotts the US!

It's really interesting that all this "useless posturing" is causing the Israeli gov't to get worked up. Israel has already arrested a number of Palestinian BDS organizers, and is considering a law that would make it illegal for Israeli Jews to endorse BDS as well.

I wonder: what has JP done to resist the US empire, other than call for a US boycott on Olyblog?

JP does have the opportunity to lead by example, but that would require stepping out of the peanut gallery.

I won't even bother...

...addressing Phan's sloppy, incoherent arguments and completely off-base assumptions about my civic involvement.


My points are these:

1) Targeted boycotts against actual agents of oppression work, while blanket boycotts are mindless cop-outs that often end up injuring and alienating allies in your struggle.

2) Symbolic boycotts -- like me boycotting caviar or most people boycotting Israeli products -- are worse than useless, because they imply that you're taking a real stand and having a real impact when you're not.

3) Boycotting a nation whose record of invading/occupying/killing others is nowhere near as bad as your own country's –– and whose war machine is bankrolled by your tax dollars –– is beyond hypocritical unless you're also willing to boycott your country's products.

4) The BDS strategy against South Africa worked because the wealth and means of production were concentrated in the hands of the oppressors, a very different situation than in Israel. 


For a little perspective on the effectiveness of blanket boycotts, look at the decades-long economic blockade that the US has imposed on trade with Cuba. A real success story there -- dramatically improving the lives of the working people and getting rid of that Castro fella in record time. Oh, wait...


Real progressive activists take real action that gets real results. Limousine liberals pat themselves on the back for empty gestures that accomplish nothing. This move by the Co-op definitely falls in the limousine liberal category.

Thank you, Olympia Food Co-op!

I'm a longtime woking member (cashier) and I'm so glad that the coop has finally instituted this boycott. It's ben a long time in the making! I remember an experience I had several years ago when a Lebanese customer discovered the Israeli logo on a product she was purchasing and burst into tears. "Even at the coop?" she asked me. I remember how ashamed I felt then, on behalf of the coop that I so love. Well, now the coop has finally returned to its values around this important issue, and I feel overwhelmed with pride. Thanks, board!

Sentence of import

Thanks, Phan, for the link to the info leaflet. Here's the part that stood out for me:

Did the Co-op carry many Israeli products?

No, not many.


So this is a symbolic action by OFC, not one that is rooted in real practical concerns. Which is fine. I'd like to point out that however one feels about this action, it won't make much of a (real-dollar) difference if you shop at OFC or not.


I would be very much interested in finding out where Israeli products are sold in Olympia, if any. I'm not even sure what Israel exports, besides olive oil.

Thanks, Phan

...the Co-op boycott of Israeli goods is not absolute. "Peace Oil" brand olive oil is exempt because it is fairly traded with Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Galilee.


A few fact for you to mull on:

1. This is the first co-op in the nation to boycott Israeli goods.

2. The co-op has an excellent history of stocking fairly traded local foods, etc

3. It would be great to see real change enacted. This action proves that it is possible, so maybe it will inspire you do something.

4. The staff and board of YOUR Food Co-op read the comments you write and take them very seriously.

...all this and we didn't need to break any windows and spraypaint downtown businesses.

P.S. this is the first time I have been called a "liberal" for working in solidarity with Palestinians.

The staff and board of YOUR Food Co-op read the comments

great but why didn't they let the membership know they planned to take this action? And were they to do that, what mechanism would they use? The phone? snail mail? the website? A quick check of the website shows the only post on on this subject appeared today just after 2pm.

While I may not be unhappy with the outcome, the process leaves much to be desired IMHO. What members made the request? when did they make it? was there notice the BOD was considering this? if so, where would one find this notice? Why, for instance, is there no discussion on the official co-op website?

Good questions from CIAGuy

As far as I'm aware, no Co-op–observed boycott has ever followed the routine that CIAGuy suggests. There is an official boycott policy, and the Israel boycott conformed to that policy -- as has the China boycott and the previous Colorado and Gardenburger boycotts, for example. If the Israel boycott had been implemented according to the routine that CIAGuy suggests, it would have been an exception to standard Co-op policy.

The same applies to established Co-op procedures for rejecting products due to packaging consideratons.

Phan is correct.

This boycott followed protocol laid out by consensus of the staff and board. While I agree that more dialog is always a good thing, this process followed the written policy. It has also took two years to go through that process, which I felt was a lot of time for it to be vetted and debated.

Excellent information and analysis, Phan.

Thank you for your illuminating comments on this thread and for your work on the BDS campaign.

Thanks as well to the Co-op and to all who worked to make our Co-op the first in the nation to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel.

Feedback for Rob Richards and the Coop: "boycott is bunk"

I'm not for it-

-The Coop is messed-up if this is what is consuming the Board and Staff time.

Thanks for posting this though.

What other boycotts are the Coop already involved in?

AND: Please clarify: what product(s) produced by the nation of Israel are being boycotted? ...or is this just a blanket boycott leveled at an entire nation of people and companies?

In my mind, boycotts penalize individuals, not this a case of "freedom fries" all over again?

The only thing that will stop the nation of Israel is military force, and that is a long-shot. The whole region is destabilizing into fundamentalist fanaticism with millions caught in the "righteous" crossfire. People pulling triggers need to be ostracized as individuals, and not accepted as doing a service that any of us need (same goes for our troops, etc...).

One planet/one love...all else is BS



I'll try to answer...

"What other boycotts are the Coop already involved in?"

China, Colorado, Imokalee Workers. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head, at least those are ones that we have been involved in over the years.


"Please clarify: what product(s) produced by the nation of Israel are being boycotted? ...or is this just a blanket boycott leveled at an entire nation of people and companies?"

I wish I had the list of products with brand names, but off the top of the dome, I know that there is a gluten free ice cream cone, one or two varieties of lotion and I believe one other seasonal product. We don't currently carry very many products from Israel as it is. As mentioned earlier, Peace Oil was exempted. Those are the products we carry that are affected.

"In my mind, boycotts penalize individuals, not this a case of "freedom fries" all over again?"

First, "freedom fries" wasn't a boycott and not really apropos as far as I can see.

Secondly, the history of successful boycotts doesn't really seem to agree with you here. Look at Gandhi/Britain, South African Apartheid, or Montgomery buses and I think you see examples of boycotts successfully causing nations to change without resulting in too much individual suffering.

It's also important to highlight that any Israeli company that denounces the occupation, or meets the criteria for exclusion, like Peace Oil, would be excluded from the boycott and would continue to be sold at the Coop. 


Finally, we at the Coop don't command an army and can't (and probably wouldn't anyway) use force against Israel. We can however be one piece of a much larger world wide movement that is building steam. My hope is that by being the first in the US to adopt the boycott we act as a catalyst for other coops to join in. Each additional organizational entity that joins may have a very small effect on the big picture, but drop by drop fills the tub.

import costs?

Thanks Rob.

When the Coop imports goods, how are the environmental and social costs evaluated: what decision process is used to select goods for retail?

Does the Coop maintain a list of suppliers and products that members can review & discuss?



good questions

I don't know the answers, but will try to get them for you, might take a couple days.

Response to "boycott is bunk"

I don't know if chad360's post was only posed to Rob, but I think a number of the issues you raised have been answered in earlier posts.

I just want to add that absolute opposition to boycott is a really tough stance. The arguments you make could be employed to justify opposition to a South Africa boycott.

I hope that military force is not the only way to stop Israel's occupation and expansionism. That would mean the Palestinians' only option is violence. All organized resistance in the West Bank right now is nonviolent. I would hate to tell them to just give up and die.

The Palestine/Israel conflict is often reduced to one of religous fanaticism, but that's not correct. Moreover, the oppression experienced by Palestinians is not just one of Israeli soldiers "pulling triggers." The Israeli occupation operates through an entire "matrix of control," as described by Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Beyond the most obvious manifestation of violence (gunfire), Israeli control over Palestinians employs physical control (curfews, closures, checkpoints, roadblocks, home demolitions, settlements, settler-only roads) and racist bureaucracy (selective exercise of laws, denial of permits based on ethnicity, introduction of laws carefully worded to only apply to Palestinians). That's how Israel can continue to oppress Palestinians and strangle them even in times of "relative calm."

Right now, in the Gaza Strip:

80% of the Gaza population is dependent on food aid
95% of Gaza's factories have closed
98% of Gazans suffer from blackouts, while the other 2% have no electricity at all.
93% of Gaza's water is polluted.
Unemployment is over 40%
Malnutrition indicators are rising. Among children, there are dramatic increases in stunting, wasting, and anemia.

In the last 3 years, only 4 days’ worth of exports have been allowed out of Gaza.

All of this was done according to plan. The plan was, "No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis." (I'm doubtful about that last claim.) A senior Israeli advisor explained it more poetically: "It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die." And Israel did not have to pull many triggers to make it happen.

I wish creating peace and justice was as easy as saying "one planet/one love," but that would not have worked for apartheid or for the Civil Rights struggle. It definitely won't work for Arizona. I'm glad the Co-op has product selection guidelines that go beyond whether a product will sell.

I'm still having a little trouble

two years?!? I'll admit to being distracted by grad school during that period but when and how was this proposal communicated to the members? Where would one look to keep abreast of matters like this: the Co-op News, the website? The BOD minutes on the website are months behind.

Also it looks like once one member gripes, the rest of the process is in the hands of the staff and BOD. am i missing something (again)?

All valid points.

I will say in defense of staff that both the newsletter and website are coordinated by folks who also work full time to keep the stores going, so, yes, they are behind sometimes.

This wasn't an issue broached by just one member, probably around 40 showed up in support of the boycott at the last meeting, and many more wrote or vocalized their support one way or another over just the last few months. I was elected to the board last fall and my term started at the beginning of this year, so I can't fully speak to what went on during the two years since this boycott was first proposed. I agree that it seems like there are people who are surprised and didn't know this was even in the works, and that's too bad.

Um. sorry...

...but being too busy to keep your members adequately informed about fairly momentous decisions is no kind of excuse at all. The Co-op holds itself out as a model of collective decisionmaking, and on the staff level it pretty much is. But we'd be screaming at Congress or the state legislature for this kind of cryptic policymaking process –– and rightly so. And the Co-op should rise to a higher standard of transparency and participation than your standard political hack, not a lower one.


Thanks for the input!

Spot on JP



phan's response to jp was definitely one of the most awesome things ive ever read on the internet!

I agree...

...Nice job, Phan.

Ditto for the rest of you "limosine liberals".

I just want to know

when do I get my limosine ride?!

I know, right?

I know, right?

I only ride in hummer limos the food co-op.


Maybe you should have an Arab Suicide bomber enter the store, when it's packed and blow himself up in the name of Jihad. Maybe you'll change your minds about the boycott.

It must be nice living here in WA State, when Canada doesn't try to launch rockets on your cities on a daily basis.

Israel has every right to defend itself against those who would be more than happy to eliminate it, and have every Jewish man, woman and child in it slaughtered.

The Israeli army is the most restrained, compassionate and law abiding in the world.

This Olympia COOP is directly supporting terrorism with its boycott, and should be boycotted itself.

Re: Boycott?

The Israeli army is the most restrained, compassionate and law abiding in the world.


Wow. That is so glaringly mis-informed, it requires a conscious decision on your part to be ignorant. It is possible that you understand that this is pure propaganda with no basis in fact, and simply spew it out w/ the hope that someone who is casually ignorant will believe you. In that case, you are simply manipulative for your own peculiar ends. It is more likely that you sincerely believe this. Since it is so easily disproven, your statement is on the same level of reality as "I ride a purple unicorn to work" and "flying monkeys protect me from the gremlins who live in the bushes." Therefore, I can reliably discard everything you say as worthless blather, and put down your attitude as the rantings of a lunatic.

Co-op Boycott of Israeli Products is a Bad Idea

It is a divisive and misguided action to boycott the only democracy in the Middle East.


I don't get it. Only democracies get to commit war crimes and human rights abuses?










So, you can vilify and demonize the State of Israel. You can continue your silly boycott, if you wish. But I wish you would consider the consequences, and the truth.

Think of the massive contribution that Israel (1/1000th of the world's population and the 100 smallest countries) is giving to the world—and to you—in science, medicine, communications, security. In relation to our population we are making a greater contribution than any other nation on earth.

So bad it isn't even wrong

BTW arabsuicide bomber, if that is your real name, everything you listed above WE ALREADY HAVE. So boycotting the apartheid Zionist Israeli wouldn't cost this nation or this community a damn thing.

Your childish reactionary rant just that.


Thanks for the info...

What I hear you saying is: be vaccination free, use MAC computers, get an answering machine and don't use cell-phones. Sounds like good advice to me!

That's Hate

Hey there, "arabsuicidebomber," that's hate you're spewing.

And I agree with The Original Yoda: The world would be a better place without Motorola.

Peace is Possible!

Relax Berd

it's not hate, just a bunch of statements you don't like. deal with it

We deal with things

by speaking up. 


Here we go, folks -- the knee-jerk whackos from both extremes meeting in the middle to duke it out. Y'all deserve each other, Phan, arabsuicidebomber, et. al. –– and hopefully will share each other's company throughout eternity.

Response to "arabsuicidebomber"

The funny thing about "arabsuicidebomber's" clever retort is that I had recently responded to these exact charges in a recent FAQ I wrote. Here's what I wrote:

Q. If we want to boycott Israel, then we would have to boycott cell phones, because Israel invented the cell phone. So there!

A. We didn’t make this one up. This argument is more common than you think. The problem with this argument is twofold:

1. It’s not true.
2. It doesn’t make sense.

The point is not to reject all things Israeli. The point is to employ consumer-based activism to work for peace and justice.

Israel did not invent the cell phone, as is commonly argued. But even if it did, it does not mean we would necessarily reject cell phones. Nor does inventing the cell phone make it okay for Israel or the US (where the cell phone was actually created) to commit human rights abuses.

The first heart transplant was performed in apartheid South Africa. That did not make a boycott of South Africa any less relevant, nor did it mean that opponents of apartheid had to reject heart transplants.

I want to stress that boycott is a tactic, not a principle (paraphrasing Nelson Mandela). The purpose of the international boycott is not to reject all things Israeli. It is not to punish Israel for being Israel. It is a tactic of nonviolent collective action to induce Israel to change its ways and to cease its human rights abuses.

Israel did not invent the cell phone or voice mail or AOL Instant Messaging (what the hell?!), but that's neither here nor there. Just become someone invented the traffic light or origami or phone sex doesn't mean they get to expel Palestinians from their own land. It's a nonsequitur evoked to excuse reprehensible acts.

It's only in the weird logic of pro-Israel apologetics that these things seem to make sense.


Undemocratic process

My concern, at this point, is not really the boycott decision itself, but the process toward making big decisions in the last year or so.  I see a lot of similarity with the way this decision was made to the credit/debit card decision.  Both were made by the Board without letting the members know.  I understand that both of these decisions were contemplated by the Board for many months, but there was no communication directly to the Members to say "Hey, there's this really important decision being made, if you care about it, come to X meeting."  I would have expected, for both of these decisions, that signs would have been posted in the Co-Op and perhaps a newsletter article.  

I understand that the official Co-Op boycott policy was followed.  However, staff and board members should know that this is a bigger and much more emotional decision than a normal boycott.  There are a lot of Jews that happen to be Co-Op members on both sides of this issues, but I think it is fair to say that it is highly emotional to all.  I encourage the Board to have a public, well-advertised forum with clearly defined process in the near future before allowing this decision to be implemented.


Bye Bye,



I heard that the Israeli consulate called the co-op today. I don't know what took place in the ensuing conversation though.

Peace is Possible!

Saints or suckers?

In March of this year, the Davis Food Co-op, like the Olympia Co-op, was faced with a group of members who wanted the store to refuse to sell Israeli goods.  The reasons Davis decided to turn down requests to put boycott on the ballot were extremely interesting and are worth reading at,_Divestment,_And_Sanctions#head-aec4e16751a36a829da483742de653cf020df535.  Their decision was based on principles relating to the co-op community itself, notably:


·         That the boycotters were demanding that they (an unelected group of people with no fiduciary or other responsibility to the co-op as a whole) be allowed to make decisions for the co-op as whole (including the board, managers and members) based on their own political agenda


·         That supporting a boycott vote implied agreement with the boycotter’s characterization of the Middle East and acceptance of BDS tactics as representing the entire Co-op, not simply the opinions of a subset of members advocating for a boycott


·         That the boycott would fly in the face of principles of the co-operative movement, including the Rochdale principles regarding political and religious neutrality and the Cooperative Principle regarding cooperation between co-ops (including Israeli co-ops)


Davis’ stance also highlighted that co-operatives that have failed to live by these principles and apply sound and careful judgment to where and when it will engage in political activity have created poisoned atmospheres leading to divisiveness, alienation of members, resignations and other harmful results.

Now it’s possible that the leaders of the Co-op in Olympia are so much wiser than their colleagues in Davis (or that Davis California is teaming with reactionaries that are all but unknown in Olympia) that they (and they alone) know what is in the best interest of their community.  But it’s equally likely that this is just one more example of a group of single-issue partisans bullying an organization that lacks failsafe mechanisms (such as ways of determining if members agree with a political policy) to make a decision BDS activists tell them is their only choice.

Yes, BUT...'s Oly and we're very used to dealing with "divisiveness, alienation of members, resignations and other harmful results". It's mostly a symbolic action meant to express a moral value. One that, I think, most memebers of the Co-op community will agree with. So there's that...

Divisiveness et al...

You think most members would agree or have you, like the board, chosen to do the thinking for everyone else for them?

I've been dealing with the BDS game long enough to realize that all the divisiveness, alienation, resignations of members, etc. is worth it to boycott advocates since it is not they who have to pay the price when they convince others (notably other institutions) to serve as surrogates for their Israel delegitimization message.  In each and every case, it is the institution (not Israel and not the boycotters) who end up paying the price whenever one of these projects gets off the ground.  Welcome to the roller coaster, Olympia Food Coop.


...that actually sounds threatening. Tell us Jon. What is the "price" in this "game" of yours?

Are you really this worked up over ice cream cones? How does our co-op "de-legitimize" the state of Israel? 



What price boycott?

The price I was referring to is already being paid as demonstrated in this comments thread and similar ones at Olympia's newspaper and the Co-op itself.  Already you've got members of a once-friendly community trading accusations of dishonesty, illegality, bigotry and murder (or apologia for murder).  Already you've got members complaining that their opinions apparently don't count when the organization is making decisions about what the organization as a whole will represent and threatening to resign. 

If you want to see the full price of this kind of political posturing, simply wait until the Co-op's August meeting (the first one where the public has been allowed into the decision-making process) where you will witness the same kind of circus I've seen play out in community after community for the last six years with people who once smiled at each other waving photos of bloody babies in each other's faces and demanding that the Co-op sustain or reverse its decision or be accused of bigotry and having blood on its hands.  That's the price the Co-op is paying for a decision made by a board whose decision may have pleased the boycotters, but only at the expense of everyone else.

You assume to much about Oly...

...and are mislead with regards to our Co-op's membership. It is confusing with all these people from other states and countries, calling our Co-op and State officials saying that they are members and are boycotting the co-op for the sake of political posturing.

As far as gruesome pictures flashed in front of our faces. Somehow, I guess that you would be one of those bloody photos flashers but nevertheless, we see those idiots everyday in front of our women's health clinic and on our college campus.

I have viewed many online threats since the announcement of the act of symbolism and they all have come from your side. 

But please, continue to explain to us what were "in for" in your "game". Make it huge. I'd love to see this story get international attention.

Ice Cream Cones

I presume your reference to ice cream cones refers to a specific Israeli product being boycotted by the Co-op, and that your question regarding why I'm getting "wored up over ice cream cones" is asking why should I take such a trivial deicision by the Co-op seriously.  But if this decision is only about whether or not to sell Israeli ice cream cones (or crackers or face cream) without any further signficance beyond that, then this whole decision by the Co-op is completely trivial and unconnected with any larger issue. 

But according to the boycotters, this decision was not simply about "ice cream cones" but is meant to communicate to the world that the Olympia Co-op, an organization with a 40+ year progressive history, has made a political stand against Israel, that - in the name of the entire organization - it agrees with the boycotters regarding Israel's alleged "crimes" and is holding itself out as an example for other organizations to follow suit and similarly boycott the Jewish state. 

I'm afraid that you can't have it both ways.  The Co-op made a political decision that was meant to be taken seriously.  They cannot both bathe in the warm contradulations of the boycotters for their virtuous, courageous and meaningful decision, but then turn around and claim that those who criticize that decision are over-reacting to something as trivial as whether or not to sell ice cream cones.

So sorry but...

...despite your wish for it to be true, this really is about a very small quantity of crackers, ice cream and (not face) butt cream.

Kinda silly if you ask me. What with all the problems in the world and all.


Are you really saying that the decision by the Co-op board is absolutely meaningless and trivial, that it was not made based on any political position and was simply about choosing to not sell one brand of crackers and ice cream cone?  If that's the case, your argument is not with me but is with the hundreds of pro-boycott activists who seem to have not gotten your message and are claiming that this decision is of extreme importance and means that the Co-op has taken an important political position that should be taken seriously by others.

I fear you've got your work cut out for you correcting all those hailing this decision as a victory for BDS that they are wrong and that the Oly Co-op has in fact said nothing about Israel and simply decided to stop selling one brand of ice cream cone.  But I do appreciate your telling everyone on this board that the Co-op's decision means nothing and that no criticism of Israel has been leveled by the organization (beyond, perhaps, disliking of some crackers they happen to produce).

Your words succinctly sum up... two main problems with this whole issue: "It's mostly a symbolic action meant to express a moral value. One that, I think, most memebers of the Co-op community will agree with."


First, there's the whole issue of "symbolic" boycotts, which accomplish nothing if neither you nor the target are affected in any material way. Boycotts are like bodybuilding –– no pain, no gain.


Second, there's this cavalier assumption that "most" co-op members will agree with the decision, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Seriously, did somebody conduct a member poll I didn't hear about? 


This whole "action" by the co-op board has been clumsily handled, divisive and utterly unnecessary.


...if it will accomplish nothing, in your eyes, why are you so concerned with a symbolic act? Do you have something against symbolism? You're not one of the anti-symbolists are you?

Unnecessary? Yes. 

But it's Oly. That's what we do here.


So... sounds like you and I agree that our community is plagued by "radical" poseurs who waste the time and energy of the progressives who actually work to get things done.

One more thing...

...Rachel Corrie used to shop at the Co-op until she was killed by the IDF for trying to protect the home of a Palestinian family. Or didn't you know?

Re: One more thing...

I do know that a group known as ISM specialized in bringing American students to Israel and putting them in harms way where some of them were killed.  Is this what you're referring to?

The act to which we both refer...

...did more to de-legitimize Israel than a hundred boycotts here in Olympia.

If you were sincere in your concerns, I think you'd probably be more sensitive to that...

I don't think this action is

I don't think this action is taken without the events surrounding Ms. Corrie.  Call me cynical but I just don't see this as being that important without Rachel's sacrifice.  Sorry to say...


Jon's website and original article can be found here.


No thanks for plugging your website?

There are worthy elements in this thread

but the abundance of responses over what is little more than consumer politics strikes me as marginally hyper-local and vaguely irrelevant.

A debate at the Oly food co-op whom serve and represent a small and verging on insignificant fraction of the food and commodities purchased in our community receives 56 informed and passionate replies coming from the very same consumers who shop at scab grocery stores like Trader Joe's Grocery Outlet and dare I say it the Oly Food Co-op and the Bread Peddler. (I apologize and retract my assertion if any of the allegedly scab stores have signed a contract with UFCW that I do not know about.)

The real conversation should be over the union politics of Stormans, Safeway, Top Foods and all the other unionized grocery stores. The debate should be over working conditions, pay, local sourcing and sustainable agriculture by those companies. There also needs to be conversation over pay and working conditions at our local producers. I know it is easier to go after an open decision organization like the Food Co-op but the real fight is not there.

The apartheid Zionist regime in Israel is criminal and all economic ties should be cut until at least concrete to build water and sewage facilities can be imported to Gaza.

Phan is right. Why this is even a debate is beyond me.

Angels on the head of a pin...

Olympian material

the story's here under the "Breaking News" section. it may move by Wednesday monring.

Wednesday AM edition

is here


I don't shop at the coop as often as I should, but I don't remember seeing "made in Israel" on anything I bought, so this really isn't an issue for me. I'm not a member, so I don't feel an incredible pull, and most of my shopping is at Albertsons or Safeway. Having "made in Israel" wouldn't stop me from buying a product if it was a quality product.

Someone above mentioned how much more damage the US does in comparison to Israel. Are any of you actively boycotting the US? Maybe some of you should show JUST how mad you are and move to Canada ;)

My wholehearted gratitude

My letter to the Co-op Board Members:

This is to express my wholehearted gratitude for a fair and consistent application of the Co-op Mission Statement and By-Laws by voting to honor the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel.

Although some will argue to the contrary, there is no legitimate reason to make an exception when it comes to this particular campaign for justice and human rights.

You absolutely did the right thing.

Please stay strong.

Sandy M.

Great Letter

Great Letter Sandy, Thank you for sharing.

I agree that there is no reason to make an exception for the human rights violations of Israel.

Our government of the USA supports Israel. Israel commits crimes against humanity.

Therefore, and in fact, directly due to the huge amount of support Israel gets from the USA, it is exceptionally important to make our voices loud and clear on this matter.

So thanks again to you, and to the organizers of the boycott, and the board, for all of your clear voices.

Peace is Possible!

A letter to Olympia Co-op


I read in an Israeli newspaper that "Olympia Food Co-op" is planning to boycott food products from Israel .

I suggest you take further steps, then:

The little chips inside your computer, at least some of them, are probably an Israeli invention. So are some of the software programs you use.

Also – your local hospital probably contains some life-saving Israeli-invented apparatus, as well as some Israeli-invented chemical compounds used in your medications.

The water distribution system in your rural vegetable and fruit fields, which I presume are abundant in your area, are also, most likely a product of the Israeli brain.  

Though tiny, Israel has contributed to the medical, scientific and technological world a substantial percentage of its inventions, intended for your nutrition, health and home comfort, relative to other countries on this planet that are much, much, bigger.  

My suggestion, then, is – why don't you boycott all of these as well?.. That would make a much more thorough job on your part.

Lastly, while boycotting Horrible Israel, please consider boycotting:

Saudi Arabia – for human rights violations (who's heard of women driving??)

Iran – for human rights violations (stone the woman to death!)

Syria – for harboring terrorists (keep up the good work firing missiles at Israel boys!)

China – for human rights violations ("Government knows what's best for you"!)

Turkey – for occupying parts of Cyprus , for imprisoning anyone who only mentions the Turkish-caused Armenian Holocaust, and for oppressing the Kurdish people who seek a country of their own)

Russia – for oppressing Chechnia (and for invading parts of Georgia )

France – for prohibiting Moslem women to wear face-veils (though I can't blame them – but, hey, freedom of expression, right??)

Switzerland – for banning the construction of minarets on mosques  

And the list is long.

I can think of many, many other countries that are violating human rights right now as we speak.  

And more seriously now:

Just so you know – I'm an Israeli woman, and – though you may find it odd – I belong to the Left political spectrum in Israel . I actually CAN'T WAIT for the Palestinians to have a country of their own. But what I don't like is people, like yourselves, who sit in your comfortable homes, thousands of miles away, and think they know better. What is happening here, in my country, is not black and white like you make it to be. There are TWO sides to the coin.

So I would greatly appreciate if you – and about 99% of all other people on this planet – stop demonizing Israel . Because despite the wrongs that Israel is doing (and there are wrongs), there is also good, and there is also our side of the story. Add to that the fact that other countries around the world are not such great saints either (including, by the way, your very own country), I would be happy if you reconsider.  

Sincerely yours,

Tami Tal, Jerusalem , Israel

Israel invented the wheel

Why do people keep claiming that Israel invented everything? I know that the Israeli government pushes this propaganda, but it's not true!

DEAR PEOPLE OF ISRAEL WHO LIKE TO READ OLYBLOG: EVEN THOUGH YOUR GOVERNMENT TELLS YOU THAT ISRAEL INVENTED THE CHERRY TOMATO, IT'S NOT TRUE! Once you realize that your government lied to you about Mr. Cherry Tomato and Ms. Cell Phone, think about what else your government is lying about. Don't feel bad; all governments lie.

And why do people keep thinking "Israel invented _____" is such a persuasive talking point?

However, I must praise Tami Tal for being vague about what exactly Israel invented, and qualifying it all with the words "probably" and "likely":

"You know those little doohickeys that work with those thingamajigs that allow you to smell everyday? Those were probably likely invented by someone somewhere in or around, adjacent to, above or below, Israel -- or  at the very least somewhere on the same planet as Israel. Therefore, fuck Palestinians." Ka-ching!

Rip apart an early cell phone...

You know what you'll find?  Chipsets by Motorola that say "MADE IN ISRAEL"

Rip apart some defib units.  You will find ISRAELI technology.  Look inside some modern auto engine control systems, and breathalyzer ignition interlocks.  You will find ISRAELI developed technology. 

How do I know?  I'm an electronics tech.  I work on the stuff.  

Maybe you should stick to something you can handle, like critiquing toilet paper...



I'm facinated

that a little food co-op in a medium sized city 10.000 miles distant moving to drop three products is newsworthy in Israel. Don't you people have something to do other than get all butt hurt because a bunch of hippies, many of whom are Jewish, decide not to sell gluten free ice cream cones? Like anyone bought that crap anyway.

As bad my country can be, we are not strafing the Pine Ridge reservation with phosphorous bombs nor rounding up Hopis in concentration camps and letting the Navajo butcher them while we shell those trying to escape.

The real threat to your nation is not the Oly Food Co-op but rather the mindless Zionists y'all keep electing.


I'm fascinated too.

Even PETA thinks we're cool.


You're absolutely right...

"As bad my country can be, we are not strafing the Pine Ridge reservation with phosphorous bombs nor rounding up Hopis in concentration camps and letting the Navajo butcher them while we shell those trying to escape."


Good point, Laurian. Now we only do that to other countries, or subsidize the Israeli/Colombian/etc. governments to do it by proxy.


If any of you clueless limousine liberals had any sense of shame, you'd scrap this Israeli boycott nonsense and go after the real problems -- the US and the major nations like us who use the Israelis and other second-rate powers as pawns. But hey, then you might be faced with bigger dilemmas than finding a new brand of moisturizer or possibly having to give up gluen-free ice cream cones entirely.


Y'all are a bunch of smug, self-satisfied poseurs who think that social change happens through useless empty gestures like this Co=op "action" instead of through real action and sacrifice. It's as if the patriots who organized the Montgomery bus boycott had decided to boycott rocket trips to Mars instead.

Tami Tal,

The reason we aren't calling for a boycott for anything and everything remotely associated with Israel is precisely because this isn't about hating Israel or Israelis, or antisemitism, much as some people like to make it out to be. This isn't some personal quest to cleanse ourselves of anything undesirable. This is a specific tactic directed at influencing specific murderous policies by a foreign government.

As far as being a member of the Israeli left, I gotta ask, why are you here defending Israeli policy? Speaking as a lifelong citizen of a country with a long list of atrocities under its belt, I defend America on the topics of Johnny Cash, triple cheeseburgers, Tennessee whiskey, and disdain for soccer, and that's ABOUT IT. I don't try to tell the rest of the world "Don't hate us all! We're not all like that!" Because I know that they know we're not all like that, and I know they don't care. They just want us to stop the madness. Instead of doing America's PR work, I focus my energy into trying to change those policies that I hate, so that we stop killing people here and abroad. And maybe, just maybe, with a lot of good honest grassroots work, I could live to see the day where I could say that I'm actually proud to be American, with no stigma or irony, because America represents something else than it does now. (At least for the moment, I can say I'm proud to be an Olympian. I guess that's a start.)

To all the people who responded to my post -

As I said, there are TWO sides to a coin, and what's sad for me is that people don't seem to realize that. That's all I'm actually saying. TWO sides, not one. And what I'd like is for people to look at BOTH.  

The circus is coming to town

A not unsympathetic critique of what the Olympia Co-op community is likely to experience next appears here:

Oh dear Jon...

...there you go again. Obviously, you don't know Oly. What with our sister-city relationship with Rafah, idiots walking around with signs that say "God bless Israeli bulldozers" and the fact that one of our children was killed in the midst of the insanity...

Life is a circus in Oly. Shall we count on seeing you at the meeting? 


It seems to me that some of the commentary going on here is not constructive or productive toward the achievement of mutual understaning.

The questioning of BDS organizers' motivations is unacceptable, as far as I am concerned, on this forum and elsewhere.

What Israel is doing to Palestinians is clearly wrong under any system of moral or legal measure. And it should be obvious why the focus on Israel, which is the biggest overseas recipient of US tax dollars.

This is a major issue. What Israel does, and how it operates, is unacceptable to me. I really can't believe that Israel represents or reflects the Jewish faith, because if it did, what would I have to think about Jewry. It is good that I know Israel doesn't represent Judaism, because I have plenty of Jewish friends who oppose what Israel does.

But the religious issue is really a red-herring in my opnion. And what this really come down to, I believe, is foreign policy. Israel was founded under the authority of Britain and the USA, and the platform that was thrust upon the fledgling state was one of explicity militarism. Israel was founded on policies that were fundamentally violent.

After what happened to European Jews in the holocaust, and after suffering so many years of anti-Jewish sentiments, it is easy to understand why some Jews would be sympathetic to a state that is founded in a "whatever it takes" including violence approach to security.

The Jewish Homeland is one way to look at israel, another way to look at Israel is as an outpost (a major one) to the hegemonic foreign policy of USA capitalistic plutocracy.

This issue of conflict between Israel and Palestine has many layers. It can be analyzed in great detail and there is surely a lot of complexity.

But it can also be analyzed in a way that is simple—and that is that what Israel has done, and is doing, to the Palestinian people is just plain wrong. What Israel has done to Palestinians is unacceptable—under any system of moral or legal measure.

Jews suffering hundreds of years of anti-semitism does not justify what Israel is doing to Palestinians.

Israelis are not better than Palestinians. All people deserve to be treated well.

Israel delegitimizes itself through its anti-human violence. And enough is enough.

Thanks again to the Oly Co-op Board, and the organizers of this boycott, for standing up in defense of the oppressed.

I look forward to the ensuing in person conversation about this, because I don't think this here blog is much of a productive forum for people to hear each other.

The actions and behavior of Israel are indefensible. I think Israel needs to change, for the good of Palestinians, as well as both Israelis and Jews everywhere.

And the supporters of Israeli status quo need to take a deep breath and stop attacking those with whom they disagree. If you want to have a productive discussion, you're going to have to be able to interact without seeing the person you're talking with as evil, monstrous.

Go BDS! Because the horrible situation with human rights FULLY WARRANTS this action.

My incomplete thoughts,
with Peace,

Peace is Possible!

Let me get this straight...

"The questioning of BDS organizers' motivations is unacceptable, as far as I am concerned, on this forum and elsewhere."

Shorter Berd: "Shut up! Peace."


Berd - I believe your thoughts are actually rather complete and fully sum up your opinion on the matter.  The trouble is that you seem to be confusing "mutual understanding" with people being in full agreement with your point of view.  You are, of course, entitled to that point of view as might someone else who feels that the problems in the Middle East are caused by the dysfunctional, racist, sexist, homophobic, reactionary Arab governments in the region (including Gaza and the West Bank) whose committment to war has ensured that there will be no peace and is the direct cause of all the suffering you highlight. 

Such a sentiment is no more and no less justified than the one you hold and I would never characterize you as an obsticle to mutual understanding for not accepting opinions you fundamentally disagree with at face value.  So please return the favor.

Thinking about the role of food coops

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Food coops are founded on noble principles of sharing and low cost sustenance.


The work of coops should be carried out democratically, transparently, and with accountability.


There are many problems and issues involving food in the United States—the oil tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, water shortages, child labor, mistreatment of immigrants, pesticides, GMO, monoculture, corporate agriculture, declining seed diversity, etc.  We don’t need to look abroad to find food problems to work on.


The world is full of political problems, issues, and crises we can wrap ourselves around.  The tragedy in the Eastern Congo, China’s invasion and colonization of Tibet, Russian repression in the Central Asian Republics, Iran developing nuclear weapons, the Taliban banning women from schooling in Afghanistan, honor killings of women in India, etc. 


How do we pick which to focus on?  Should a food coop pick foreign political fights at all?  Does a food coop need a foreign policy to serve its members?   


Reasonable people can differ on the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.  There may be some evidence that some Palestinians have been dispossessed.  But there is irrefutable evidence that Native Americans were being dispossessed by European Americans as recently as the 1880’s, and in the Pacific Northwest, Native American’s salmon runs were destroyed by dams in the 1930’s.  Just north of Oly, at Nisqually, fish wars were fought between white fishermen and Indians in the 1970’s.  These historical problems are manifested close to home—some less than a half hour’s drive away from Olympia.  Let’s repair our own legacy of shame.  


If our concern is food, then Israel has contributed to feeding the world fairly priced and nutritious food.  Israel made the desert bloom with citrus trees, and has pioneered  growing produce using low amounts of water. 


Israel has contributed to the health care of people around the world.  Medical breakthroughs developed there are in common use everywhere today. 


Israel provides significant foreign aid in Africa—more per capita than the United States. 


Israel pioneered the development of mine resistant vehicles, which are in use in Afghanistan today, protecting American young men and women from the Taliban and Al Queda. 


Kosher food is the fastest growing segment of the food market in the United States—faster than organic food.  Many Muslims in the United States buy kosher food when halal food isn’t available, because they know it meets Muslim food laws as well.  Israel produces a lot of kosher food.  Try visiting a Middle Eastern food store—many of the products are labeled in Hebrew.  


Israelis want to live in peace, freedom, and security.  So too, we hope, do Palestinians.  How to achieve peace between them has befuddled the most energetic and smartest diplomats for generations.  It seems kind of unlikely that a small town food coop will discover the one true way to bring peace, freedom, security, mutual recognition, and an end to terrorism half way around the world. 


It’s hard to know where to draw the line on taking a stand on the internal political policies of a foreign country.      


Ideological fights aren’t likely to help. 


Stealth policy made by a food coop board isn’t likely to help.  


Let’s concentrate on feeding people nutritious food at a fair price. 


Let’s work together to discuss these matters openly and without rancor and namecalling.  There’s just too much of that in today’s world and in US politics.  Let’s rise above it.  We don’t want the Olympia Food Coop labeled as just another branch of the Tea Party. 


Let’s set the example that people can work together to resolve problems openly, transparently, civilly, and politely, trying to meet each other needs. 


Before we broadcast anyone’s one best solution to the world, let’s talk about these things with our neighbors.  And in the morning, I’ll say hello to you as I buy my coffee in downtown Olympia.  Life’s too short to live anyone’s lives but our own.  

Boycott Olympia Foods

No, I absolutely do NOT support the decision by the board. Israel is the only free democracy in the Middle East, and deserves our support. I have no Jewish heritage, but am frightened by the anti-Semitic demagoguery lately. I will certainly make it a point to NOT purchase anything from Olympia foods, and encourage my friends to do the same.

Shame on you.



One need only study Islam to know what side to be on - civilization or barbarity. Judging by the majority of the post here the barbarians have the vote of the useful idiots!

"Hamas Principles

The principles of the Hamas are stated in their Covenant or Charter. Following are highlights.

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."'



Gutsy move. Anti-Muslim blogs are already parading this claiming it's anti-semitic.

Just remind them that we share the same views that Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt did when he wrote to the NY Times:

He was opposed to an Israel guided by zionism where people of the Jewish faith were the only ones who could expect rights, where the Palestinians would remain disenfranchized. He was opposed to Minachem Begin visiting the US as he was the former leader of the terrorist organization Irgun when they massacred Palestinians in their village in Dier Yassin. Remind them of the many Jews who support a two state solution, including Noam Chomsky. Jewish organizations like "Jews Against The Occupation".

The claim that opposing Israel's policies regarding the illegally occupied territories is not in any way "anti-semitic". That the charge of anti-semitism serves no other purpose than to kill debate and discussion on the facts with regards to the Occupied Territories.

We support Israel's right to exist, it's right to defend itself. We condemn all prejudice and persecution of people regardless of faith or race. And we condemn the occupation that has left generations of a people hopeless and chronically persecuted, exiled from their own homes and left without the most central right - a right to one's own homeland.

Wish you guys the very best of luck.

Narrow Mindedness

It seems to me that when one is fed /propaganda/ by the media, and an ideal to follow, many in this country follow like sheep. 

You should all go take a look at who comprises the UN Human Rights council, and what those countries in the greatest voting power have in common. 

You will find that a great deal of these 'Human Rights Watchdogs' are terrible violators of human rights themselves. From stoning gays and 'adulterous women' to disallowing the adoption of their many many orphans. These people get together and can only agree on one thing- Israel doesn't deserve to exist. 

Hamas' own charter says that they WILL NOT STOP until Israel is destroyed. They receive more resources from nations guided by the teachings of Muhammad than any other 'starving' place and the places that deserve our focus are ignored. 

Christians are being killed all across the Middle East, Indonesia and Africa and no one raises a peep for us. 

It is my wish that no one would have to die, but you folks need to wake up and realize what is going on. How about you pick up a Quran and read some, paying particular attention to what Mohammed wrote later in life. Then look at the countries that are condemning Israel. It is not racist to say that they are being ganged up upon by many enemies sharing the same ideology- one which calls Jews the vilest of creatures in their own religious texts. Christians follow closely behind in drawing their hate. 

IF you are a Christian and reading this, and disregard the suffering of your brothers and sisters at the hands of these people who are oppressed by their own religion and leaders, you are in need of self-examination. 

If you are another religion (Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Tao, etc) you are our brothers and sisters in being oppressed in these nations. 

If you are an atheist/agnostic, you are doing a mighty fine job of picking and choosing and deciding to be on the side of a group of people of many races who would just as soon have you wiped off the face of the earth as well. /It is in their religious texts!/ 

We really should be supporting what is the only clean, healthy, democratic, nation in the Middle East that actually treats women as if they are human beings, and doesn't do horrible things like FGM and stoning to death, marrying off young girls to old men and abusing wives (many many of their clerics go into great detail about to what degree a man may abuse his wife. No broken bones seems to be pretty across the board, with variance in degrees below that). 

This kind of narrow minded picking and choosing needs to end. Think for yourselves instead of believing all the TV tells you.


"Oh, we should boycott Arizona too!"

How many of you on here that want to boycott Arizona have actually READ the actual legislation?  Honestly?  I mean all eleven pages of it?  And you can still say that it is RACIST?  Well, then, that means that the EXISTING FEDERAL laws that Arizona wants ENFORCED are racist too.

My ex sister in law is South African.  Lived here for over 30 years and has never naturalized.  By law, she still MUST CARRY HER GREEN CARD WITH HER AT ALL TIMES, and MUST PRESENT IT IF ASKED.

Is that racist too?


Thank you Co-op!

Life-long Olympian, just wanted to pipe in and say THANK YOU OLY CO-OP!!!!  This is such an important stand to make right now, and the right way to make it!

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Beware the terrible simplifiers.
Jacob Burckhardt

Beware the terrible simplifiers.
Jacob Burckhardt

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