Olympia Co-op: Responsibility

While not a member of a food co-op here in Massachusetts, I do take part in a farm share. But when I picked up last week’s supply of tatsoi et al, I couldn’t help but notice a distinct lack of protestors lining the street on my way to the farm. Curious, I checked the Web sites of several local co-ops and found that none of them featured members accusing each other of racism, anti-Semitism, ignorance and apologia for murder.

Even the food co-op at Davis, California, which considered and rejected an anti-Israel boycott a few months back, seemed a joyful place with members on their various Web sites discussing recipes, nutrition tips, and best wishes for the summer (with time left over to announce community service activities such as a blood drive). Why is it that only Olympia seems to be locked in debate that’s includes such enlightening subjects as whom in the Middle East is guilty of genocide, or whether or not the Nazi boycott of Jewish stores was a reaction to Jewish economic warfare against Nazi Germany?

Why is it only at Olympia that members are at one another’s throats? And why is it only at Olympia that co-op leaders have to sort through hundreds of e-mails a day from around the world, demanding they come down on one side of the Middle East conflict or the other? Perhaps it is because, unlike nearly every other retailer (co-op or otherwise) in the country, Olympia decided to turn a conflict that has challenged and perplexed wise and committed men and women for generations into official business.

Now I happen to be 3000+ miles away from Washington State, so perhaps I am missing a wide range of issues that made boycott a requirement for Olympia and almost nowhere else. But given that I’ve been watching and analyzing nearly identical BDS stories as they played out in other communities for 5-6 years now, I think it’s safe to suspect that Olympia’s leadership may be starting to ask itself whether they really know so much more than their colleagues nationwide who have not touched this issue.

Are they wiser than the thousands of people in similar positions who have chosen to keep the Middle East out of their communities, or have leaders outside of Olympia shown wisdom by avoiding taking actions guaranteed to only cause division and pain?

It may be that the Olympia Co-op board is more complicit in this decision than leaders in other civic organizations (such as my former hometown of Somerville, MA) that were essentially tricked into taking a divestment stance (temporarily) at the behest of BDS activists working them behind the scenes. But whether or not this is the case, this same Oly leadership seems to be starting to show concern about taking such a controversial political stance in the name of 15,000 members who had no idea this matter was even being discussed.

Claims that a policy statement here and a by-law there can be looped together to justify making such a controversial choice behind the backs of the membership seem to me (and many Oly members I’ve talked to) as more legalistic backtracking than a satisfying explanation. And making such a decision at a meeting where 50 boycott supporters were present, but no one else knew what would be happening, cannot be satisfactorily justified by criticizing members for not taking the initiative to keep abreast of behind-the-scenes politics (a criticism which sounds a lot like the “didn’t you get the memo?” corporate-speak than the actions of an organization that prides itself on member democracy).

As bad as things have gotten since news of the boycott first escaped to the public, the organization can expect to see the full circus descend during next week’s public hearing on the subject. They can look forward to people who once smiled at each other in the aisles waving bloody shirts and gruesome photographs at one another. People with honest political differences will be branded as “enemies of human rights,” or murderers with “blood on their hands.”

If the co-op’s leadership leaders like what they see next week and want to have it continue for months or years on end, sucking up the time, energy and good will needed to accomplish any other matter, by all means they should let this needless fight continue. But if they want to move the Middle East conflict out of Olympia, they should reverse this decision and determine how to prevent such a poison from entering their community again.

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32 Responses to Olympia Co-op: Responsibility

  1. Bella Center August 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    The Olympia Coop board is covering themselves by issuing this very earnest but nevertheless anti-Zionist leaflet about anti-Semitism and the left.

    http://olympiafoodcoop.blogspot.com/2010/07/anti-semitism-and-progressive-movements.html

  2. Jon August 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    Well isn't that thoughtful of them. And I noticed that they have also included calls to battle against Islamophobia during the current angry debate raging between co-op members.

    Meanwhile, the most contraversial thing I could find on the Davis Co-op blog relates to concerns over the supply of Kombucha (http://davisfoodcoop.blogspot.com/).

    Go figure!

  3. Berd August 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    I'm a member of the Olympia Food Co-op, and I am happy that the community is entering into this conflict.

    It is not anti-Semitic to question the policies of Israel, nor Zionism itself.

    The decision to boycott is about standing up for human rights.

    I hope everyone can agree that standing up for human rights is a good thing.

    Palestinians deserve to be treated well Jon, that's what this is really about—and when Israel treats Palestinians badly, it is bad not only for Palestinians, but for Israelis, Zionists, and all Jews as well.

  4. Berd August 2, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/09/is-it-anti-semitic-to-defend-palestinian-human-rights/

    Is it Anti-Semitic to Defend Palestinian Human Rights?

    Jewish Opposition to Zionism

    by Edward C. Corrigan / September 1st, 2009

    All across Canada and in the United States, there is an organized campaign to suppress criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians.

    The campaign is especially strong on university campuses where many voices have been raised in support of human rights for the Palestinians.

  5. Jon August 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    Berd – I know it's a popular dodge to declare all legitimate criticism of boycotts and other BDS activities as consisting of nothing more than empty accusations of anti-Semitism. So it's no surprise that you'd want to take this rhetoric trick on a test drive, even if it's at a Web site (this one) that has never made such an accusation.

    But if some personal confirmation will make you feel better, while I consider you a childish, thin-skinned, censorious hypocrite with a penchant for posting the same three sentences over and over on every Website he can to avoid engaging other people’s legitimate arguments, I would never accuse you of being an anti-Semite.

    If you’d like to thank me for giving you a clean bill of health on the matter, please include it in your next posting, which I suspect will be nearly identical to the first one you added to this thread today.

  6. Berd August 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Jon, do you think that Palestinians deserve to be treated well?

  7. Jon August 2, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    Berd – Nothing would make me happier than to see the Palestinians liberated from their cruel manipulators, and from hypocritical human rights fakers (such as the BDS movement) that uses their plight solely to attack their political foes while striking poses of moral superiority. Indeed, it is these very people (which I presume includes you) that has caused more Palestinian suffering that I, Stand With Us and the entire Israeli Army could ever do (presuming we wanted to do Palestinians harm which we don’t).

    Does that answer your question?

  8. Berd August 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Jon, I am glad to hear that you care about the well-being of the Palestinian people.

    So—how do you propose that Palestinians be liberated from “their cruel manipulators” if not via BDS (which I believe is a nonviolent persuasive tactic.)

  9. Jon August 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

    I’m glad you asked. Well first, BDS advocates can drop their boycott program and apologize to the entire Olympia Co-op community for trying to manipulate them for the narrow partisan gain of BDS advocates.

    Second, they can admit that their entire effort is an attempt to continue warfare by other means, best demonstrated by boycott and divestment advocate’s fury at any Palestinian who dares propose compromise and a true desire for peace.

    Afterwards, a review (led, perhaps, by you) on how the Arab states and their surrogates have used the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a way to distract attention from their own repression, totalitarianism and Apartheid policies (including selling oil to Apartheid South Africa) will help clear the air and hopefully lead the way towards true reconciliation.

    Can I presume you (as a champion for Palestinian human rights) are all aboard this program? If so, I’d be happy to help you announce it to your friends at Olympia.

    Agreed? Because if so, as you say, “peace is possible.”

  10. Berd August 2, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    Jon, it seems we have some very significant differences in perspective and understanding about what the reasons behind, and for, BDS.

    Peace!

    Best,
    Berd

  11. Jon August 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    An acknowledgement of different perspectives! Now there's a real breakthrough.

    Assuming you are not ready to demonstrate your concern for the Palestinians in the effective ways I mention, let's at least agree to have both your perspective and the perspective of those that disagree with you (such as me) included in a revision to the Co-op's Israel boycott statement.

    I'm going to start drafting something now that you can propose at next week's meeting.

    See, we can make progress on the road to peace. I'll post our joint statement to my Web site and the Olyblog sometime before the end of the weak.

    Peace! I mean PEACE! (in all capital letters, to truly demonstrate my self-identity as a champion of this word).

  12. Jade August 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    I am an Olympia Coop Member. I grew up in Olympia. I recently moved to a nearby community.
    Sometimes conflict is necessary because its about something important. Not kill-people-conflict, but arguing, hurt feelings, anger. This is not meaningless drama, its a big and important issue about human lives.
    The reason I support the boycott is because I don't believe that any policy that harms anyone's family is acceptable. I don't accept any family member's death by shooting, families separated from one another by walls, losing their ancestral land to government projects or citizen visions for new communities, or any other form of violence.
    None of these actions create security for anyone. I think this is where you and I might disagree. Its certainly where I disagree with Zionism. I care deeply about Jewish safety, and I don't think it can come from separation and military might, as demonstrated by the last 62 years of trying that. Security is always the justification for violence, but never its result. If there is policy that hurts families in the world, I believe it is not only my right but my responsibility to act against it, superseding political borders and cultural differences.
    Maybe this boycott is the wrong approach. The reason I suspect it is not is because it has been endorsed by so many non-violent Palestinian groups, Israelis who oppose occupation, and internationals with a track record for peace. In general, I think people can be trusted to come up with the best solutions for their own community problems, unless they are operating from the desire for retribution. I trust these people, who agree with me that retribution and violence will not bring security. If the boycott proves to be more harmful to families than the alternative, I will certainly regret supporting it.
    On another note, the way that you talk about my community sounds sarcastic and smug. It sounds like you enjoy watching us be divided and have our friendships hurt by this controversy, as if it serves us all right, even though the reason we are divided is because some of us agree with you.
    I want you to know that while I understand the appeal of bitterness and sarcasm, I don't think this is the time and place for it. Too much at stake.
    You say you desire peace, but the way you talk sounds like you don't have my community's best interests at heart, but a desire for retribution against people who disagree with you. Your comments are inflammatory, rather than peacemaking. I would appreciate if you would set aside your sarcasm and engage in dialogue a direct and respectful manner.
    I trust my community to move through this conflict with minimal destruction. Some people will be jerks, but most of us care about each other and about understanding this, even when we disagree. Our security comes from knowing and caring about each other, across differences. Certainly if people in Israel-Palestine can do this, our little town can.

  13. Jade August 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Berd August 3, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    I second what Jade wrote.

    Jon, I think that we might even disagree about the meaning of the word “peace.”

    May all beings be happy: including both Palestinians AND Jews.

  15. Marina August 3, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    “Are they wiser than the thousands of people in similar positions who have chosen to keep the Middle East out of their communities?”

    Your post seems to imply that ignoring a problem will make it go away.

    Alternately, you may be trying to imply that lack of conflict equals a functioning community.

    I have many issues with this boycott, but wishing I could hide my head in the sand is not one of them.

  16. Jon August 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Dear Jade – I appreciate your thoughts as I appreciate all thoughtful and heartfelt contributions.

    I agree that conflict (or, as I prefer to think of it, debate over serious matters) can lead to progress, which is the purpose of this blog. While you, and others, may disagree violently with what I have to say, I am bringing the perspective of someone who has seen the Olympia story play out in community after community over the last several years. No doubt, this information is uncomfortable for some, but I believe it is necessarily to help communities become informed so that they can make sound decisions.

    Which is why I must reject your accusations of sarcasm and smugness (which you allege I use to attack your community). I make no secret of my support for Israel, but there are thousands of ways one can show that support: politically, academically, economically, etc. The reason I have chosen this particular subject (the fight against BDS) as my cause is because I saw what a BDS fight did to my own community of Somerville, MA many years ago, turning a pleasant town into a war zone (i.e., exactly what’s unfolding at Olympia today), just so some narrow, partisan, BDS activists could get their way.

    Suddenly it was clear to me how I could both support the Jewish state and support civic society (churches, unions, colleges, my hometown, yours) – “thinking globally and acting locally” if you will – by exposing the behavior of a political movement (BDS) that is willing to wreak havoc on places like Olympia just so they can score propaganda points against their political rivals.
    So point of fact, I consider myself a friend to your community. And the language and techniques I use to fight on its behalf (research, writing and the occasional bit of humor) should only discomfort those who want to exploit your community in order to attack mine.

  17. Jon August 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    Jade – Working backwards to your passionate concern that no person or family should be needlessly harmed by violent conflict, I don’t think there is anyone on any side of this issue that does not agree with that. I wish to see no harm come to any Palestinian person or family, or any Israeli person or family, or anyone else (Jew, Muslim, Christian or other faith) due to the perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict for more decades.

    The question is: what policy is likely to solve the conflict which leads to people and families being harmed (which you and I both abhor) and what policy is likely to create more suffering?

    You are under the impression that a boycott is a means of solving the problem, assuming that Israel is the main culprit in the perpetuation of the conflict and that economic punishment might cause it to change its behavior in a way that will lead to peace.

    Fair enough, but I (and many others) feel that it is the Arab states and their manipulation of the Palestinian issue that is the crux of the issue, and that international anti-Israel delegitimziation campaigns (like BDS) are part of a propaganda war that will likely lead to more conflict and, thus, more suffering by those families you are so concerned about.

    The fact that a debate over these two worldviews has gone on for more than six decades means that the issue is far from settled. So we are not going to settle that argument here in this comments section.

    But unless you can tell me with absolute certainty that the “Israel is to blame” worldview now enshrined as official policy of the Olympia Co-op is the only possible way of thinking about the conflict, then we have to agree that there is a chance (even if you only think it’s a small one) that my interpretation is right. And that would mean that there is a chance (possibly large, possibly small, but not zero) that the boycott enacted by the Co-op might add to (rather than resolve) the conflict and thus lead to more of the human suffering you so despise.

    It’s one thing to disrupt a community such as Olympia in service of an unquestioned good. But what would it mean if Olympia is now tearing itself apart in support of a decision that might lead to more suffering in the world, especially by the very Palestinians the policy is meant to support?

  18. Jon August 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Berd Said “Jon, I think that we might even disagree about the meaning of the word “peace.”

    I suspect that is the case. I believe that peace is the absence of conflict, brought on through trying to help people reconcile differences and find a way to live together without violence or war.

    Given your support for a propaganda campaign (BDS) that has a chance of increasing the amount of violence and war and decreasing the likelyhood of reconciliation between peoples, then you are quite right that your definition of “peace” is far, far different than mine.

    Perhaps Orwell has a phrase for what you believe (he was so eloquent in these matters).

  19. Jade August 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    Jon,
    Thank you for your response.
    You are right that we can't settle this here, nor in the forums in Olympia. But I think it does help to start from a place of establishing our mutual intentions for human rights for all.
    I guess your sarcastic tone makes more sense in the context of having watched numerous communities torn apart over this. Maybe it is weariness, not smugness. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. But, if I may challenge you to go a little deeper, what wisdom do you have from your experience that could help us to not be eaten alive by this, if that is indeed your hope? Do you think that is the very nature of trying to do anything? Obviously it is not BDS that creates the controversy, as that controversy was born long before BDS. BDS is just one young response within this contentious conflict. Are our options, as you see them, isolationism/apathy or destruction of ourselves and others?
    Every action is, at its core, a gamble on some level. We are all trying to sort life out as we go living it, confused and unqualified as we all are. If someone can't admit that, they are too inexperienced or too zealous to be credible. You are taking the gamble of defending Israel against BDS. I am taking the gamble of supporting BDS, even though it is causing considerable stress in my home community to do so. But there is no such thing as safe inaction when people are dying.
    I pray you are wrong on this one.
    Peace,
    Jade

  20. Jon August 5, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Jade – We'll have to agree to disagree on the subject of tone, but I assure you that the many years I've spent dealing with this issue, far from wearying me, have allowed me to chrysalize some key observations which I hope will give you pause to think about this matter in a differnt light.

    My first observation, born from experience, contradicts your notion that the controversy currently convulsing Olympia is not about BDS but about an underlying cause (i.e., the Middle East conflict itself).

    This contradiction can be proven by the fact that the ME conflict has been going on for six decades, yet the only places I’ve ever seen torn apart like Olympia is now are places where BDS has pitched its tents. And this includes hundreds of other co-ops that have not chosen to become a battlefield in the Middle East conflict, including co-ops like Davis that rejected a boycott yet still seem to be happy, socially conscious organizations where members are free to engage in all kinds of political activity.

    In fact, I’m sure many members of these non-boycotting institutions can and are personally boycotting Israeli products and encouraging their friends and families to do so as well. The only thing they are denied is the ability to speak as though they represent the will of the entire organization (something they have been allowed to do at Oly).

  21. Jon August 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    A second observation (one that underlies most if not all of what I’ve said about this subject since 2004) is that the mission of BDS is to get their message to come out of the mouth of a well-known respected organization such as a famous university, prestigious church, a union, rock star or retailer. This allows them to claim to speak for more than just themselves, giving BDSers the ability to punch way above their weight, even if it’s at the expense of the organization they claim to speak for.

    The value of being able to stuff their words into someone else’s mouths is so high that any tactic is allowed in order to accomplish this goal including the questionable steps that led the co-op’s leadership to twirl a few rules together into a loophole through which they handed the reputation of the entire organization over to the local BDS community. So Oly’s current situation can in fact be laid at the feet of BDS itself, a “movement” claiming that the only way to “do something” about the suffering of the Middle East is to accept their demands.

  22. Jon August 5, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Another general observation I’ve made over the years (including years before taking up this current topic) is how much of the world’s misery can be traced to people who are absolutely sure of their moral righteousness. This should come as no surprise, given how few people name themselves Dr. Evil or start organizations like The World Crime Syndicate.

    We certainly have no problems condemning fanaticism when it comes in the form of religious crusades or imperialism (both of which were driven by people possessing absolute surety of their virtue). Which is why I have no problem identifying and condemning similar behavior as it relates to fanatical attacks on the Jewish state.

    When people show up in this forum and elsewhere endlessly throwing out accusations and all but deaf to counter-arguments of any sort, I don’t chalk that up to cheap political rhetoric but to fanatical devotion to a cause which cannot accommodate anything outside its worldview of Israeli evil and Palestinian pristine innocence.

  23. Jon August 5, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Now I don’t attribute such fanaticism to you at all. In fact, the sentiment you seem to represent (which I’ve seen countless times as well) is that the crisis in the Middle East is so acute, the damage to people’s lives so real, that “we must do something.”

    Unfortunately “something must be done,” while an understandable sentiment that wells up from a good place can make one vulnerable to manipulation by people who claim to be “doing something,” and insisting that those who share your desire for positive activity support them, despite the fact that doing so causes harm to the very people you’d like to help.

    I could point you to dozens of organizations dedicated to reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians through intergroup outreach by professionals, children’s activities, theater, etc. and recommend those as better avenues for your passionate desire to accomplish some good. Unfortunately, at least for now, you have thrown your lot in with the BDS movement that, among other things, works to shut down avenues of cooperation between Jews and Arabs, which belies the notion that they represent anything resembling a peace movement.

  24. Jade August 5, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Since you trust the state of Israel to come up with the best solutions on its own, I don't think you and I could have common ground about what to do. Also, while we don't disagree about peace, I think you and I have very different ideas of justice. Since we have different goals, we won't support the same organizations, though we can both choose to support non-violent tactics.
    What I was asking is more, do you have ideas about how a community can engage about these issues without tearing itself apart. I am guessing you will say there is no way except to avoid BDS.
    But last night there was a BDS presentation where there were people who support and oppose in attendance. As far as I know, everyone there is an actual resident of Olympia. The BDS organizers are, unlike their portrayal in some media, all unpaid, all residents, mostly long-term. There was civility and compassion, and even when it was hard, I felt so much warmth for and pride in my whole community.
    True, the organizers talked about the death threats they've faced for their work, but within our own community there is a sense of responsibility to one another. We are not “torn apart”. They talked about why BDS is a strong strategy, and why it is called for. They talked about the Coop process, which was followed, and admitted that maybe that process is inadequate and in need of revision given that many people still felt unheard.
    The people who are acting scary and horrible are not from this community. Many of them are from Stand With Us, based in Seattle and elsewhere, which, unlike BDS, *does* have paid organizers who go into communities not their own and try to stir up conflict. They have little at stake in Olympia, like those who made the death threat phone calls. When you live in a town of 40,000, most people want to be able to look each other in the face.
    In Olympia, as in Israel, BDS is already a coalition that includes Arabs, Jews, and others, so it is not shutting down cooperation or peace as a matter of course.
    We are successfully having these conversations peacefully. I guess that wisdom is already in my own backyard.

  25. Berd August 5, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Great comment Jade!

  26. Jon August 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    There are many assumptions in your comment which I will try to address in the context of answering your question regarding how communities can debate this issue without needless rancor.

    My first response would be for people to engage one another’s strongest arguments, rather than attempt to discredit opponents or place their ideas beyond the pale.
    For example, you are asking me to accept as fact an accusation that the boycott has led to death threats against Olympians and that I must further accept your assertion that such threats emanate from people with whom I am politically allied. Yet I’ve heard nothing about the obvious responses that would be triggered by actual death threats (such as calling the police), but instead have only seen attempt to lay these alleged criminal activities at the feet of people and organizations who do not share your political views.

    You’ve targeted StandWithUs in your attack, but given that others in your community have lumped together that organization, me and anyone else who disagrees with BDS, you’re already asking to start a debate by demanding your opponents defend themselves from guilt-by-association regarding an unproven crime.

    While I’ll fully admit that the work I’ve done to contend with this issue is not everyone’s cup of tea, you’d be much better off engaging with the points I and others have been making, rather than try to shut down debate by contending that what we’re really engaged in is criminal behavior.

  27. Jon August 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    A second suggestion I would make relates not to philosophy but to the old religious adage to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    In this context, I would guess that the reason you are feeling sanguine about how things have gone in the Olympia debate so far is that the official position of the Co-op (at least for now) reflects your political biases. If by some strange twist of fate, you had woken up last week to discover the Co-op had banished Peace Oil from the shelves until the Palestinians agree to return to direct talks with the Israelis without pre-conditions, or that all products from countries officially at war with Israel were yanked until those policies changed, I suspect you would find yourself appalled at what the organization was saying in your name and the current debate would be taking place in reverse, with you and your political allies complaining about how the decision was made, your voice not being heard, etc., etc. (with possibly some accusations of racism thrown in for good measure).

    The reason you do not have to contend with such a situation is that people such as me, whose opinions regarding who is right and who is wrong in the Middle East are held no less firmly than you hold yours, have chosen to not make our towns, our schools, our churches/synagogues and – yes – our food stores into battle zones in the Arab-Israeli conflict. We don’t turn the tables, we don’t do what you’re doing, even though that would be far easier than contending with boycott and divestment fights after they’ve started. We don’t do it, even though it would be easy to play the same games the BDSers are playing at Oly. But we are not prepared to sacrifice others on the alter of our political passions.

    If you and your friends would contemplate some of these notions, that would be a step in the right direction to determining how a debate on this topic can happen without rancor (or, at least, less rancor). Alternatively, you can just accuse me of harassment and getting my friends to make death threats to the co-op’s cheese department and ignore everything I’ve said. The choice is yours.

  28. Jade August 5, 2010 at 11:43 pm #

    Jon,

    I did not say or mean to imply that you are in any way responsible for the death threats. I was simply acknowledging the less beautiful aspects of this “debate”. When I say we are peaceful, I don't want it to sound like I am saying it is all roses and clover, to gloss over the ways that it has harmed people in my community. I don't ask that you defend that behavior. I would assume that you would condemn it, as I do any threats on someone's life, politics aside. I mentioned it because it is significant, not because it proves that BDS is right or wrong. My point was that these types of things are coming from outsiders who have nothing to personal to lose by acting violently to my town. I think in Olympia we all (regardless of our feelings about BDS) reject that kind of tactic and are concerned for one another's safety.
    However, the fact that you clearly don't believe it really damages your credibility in my book. I don't ask for proof from people from my community who I have known for years when they say their life has been threatened. I don't know whether the individuals filed police reports, but I certainly don't think they made it up. That accusation is insulting and absurd.
    And you are right that I don't see the Israel-Palestine conflict as a situation of two equal sides caught in a cycle of violence.
    Its a government with massive military might crushing an indigenous people for the sake of strengthening a state based on ethnic separation as a misguided attempt at creating safety for Jews. Its supporters certainly know they don't need institutions like the Olympia Food Coop to be involved in order for this to continue. In fact, better for Israel that no American citizens even take notice. Our government is giving them everything they need without any public awareness. They have already won where power is concerned, though not when it comes to peace and security. To win peace and security for Israelis would require either a different approach to power, or, God forbid, the absolute eradication of the Palestinian people.I think the government is clear on which it is willing to accept.
    So you see, I believe that the power needs to be somewhat equalized for viable peace, and I am willing to step into the heat a little bit to make that happen. By doing that through economic and other nonviolent strategy, I hope it will protect more innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives from being destroyed in the battle for political power. I believe it will.

    Jade

  29. Jon August 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm #

    I have pointed out on several occasions other “less beautiful aspects of this ‘debate,’” notably the fact that the entire BDS project is based on the accusation that Israeli is a nation of racist murderers, alone in the Middle East at deserving economic punishment. And by extension, the embrace of BDS by your community is saying that those of us who defend against this accusation (including your neighbors) are apologists for racism and murder.

    I won’t use this as a launching point to attack anyone’s credibility in this debate, but I will note that it leaves BDS defenders on pretty thin ground when they try to leverage some alleged anonymous phone calls (which at the very least could have come from anyone or anywhere) into an attack on the credibility of anyone with whom you disagree.

  30. Jon August 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    Regarding your analysis of the Middle East, no doubt this is heartfelt and shared with many similarly passionate people that surround you. But as I have noted before, my beliefs are no less passionately held by myself and large numbers of other people and they paint a far different picture than yours, especially with regard to power.

    From where I stand, the issue is not powerful Israel against the powerless Palestinians, but an Israel powerful enough to survive standing against dozens of far wealthier, far more powerful states which both created and fuel the Arab-Israeli conflict as a means of deflecting attention from their own failings and criminality. Under this scenario, you are not fighting for the poor and oppressed, but are instead allying yourself with the rich and the powerful who have managed to use their immense resources to buy themselves off the very same human rights agenda that they then use to attack their enemy (Israel).

    I have no doubt that such an analysis, which portrays BDS supporters not as selfless heroes, but as partisans who have chosen to embrace Goliath while convincing themselves that they are Gandhi, flies in the face of everything they believe about themselves. But as writers you site (Klein, Chomsky) have noted for years, the rich and powerful have a variety of ways to get people to unwittingly do what the wealthy want. The fact that such writers (like the BDSers of Olympia) refuse to apply these lessons to themselves does not make these observations any less accurate with regard to your embrace of the more powerful at the expense of the less.

  31. Anonymous August 8, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    I love how people claim to be for human rights totally ignore what Hamas is doing to their OWN people!! I just watched Hamas plow through a wedding because they were singing and dancing. Hamas killed the groom. Wow – how peaceful. These self righteous olympians need to objectly look at the other side too and realize that the Jews were in ISRAEL long before “palestine” ever existed – oh and get out of bed with the Muslim Brotherhood's front group Council on American Islamic Relations.

  32. DrMike August 10, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    Jade, I would like your response to this question:
    “do you accept the right of the Jewish people and the Palestinian people to national self-determination, each in a portion of their own homeland?”

    if yes: then please tell me how BDS furthers this goal with specific reference to all 3 demands of the BDs movement.

    if no: then please tell me why 23 Arab states (every one of which, except Lebanon, defines itself as an Islamic state) are acceptable regardless of how they treat their neighbors and their ethnic minorities, but one Jewish state is not.

    This is really the core of the issue with BDS. It's NOT (just) about the occupation– which Israel has offered to end in exchange for peace. It's about the existence of a state of the Jewish people.

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