The turmoil of the Middle East affects the United States in more than one way. Tuesday night, about 1,600 members of the Park Slope Food Coop gathered to place their votes on a motion that would make the organization part of an international boycott against Israeli – made products. At the end of almost an hour of voting and debating, the Park Slope Food Coop said no to international boycott.
Basically it was a vote whether or not to initiate a referendum on banning Israeli products. The matter might seem ordinary, but the truth is that it has generated quite some debates. The members’ meeting of Tuesday night was probably the most tensioned since the ban on plastic grocery bags.
The Park Slope Food Coop meeting started at 7:45 p.m. and about 45 minutes later, its members left the Brooklyn Technical High School auditorium. The votes were counted by 10 p.m. with 1,005 votes against the referendum on banning Israeli products and only 653 in favor.
The controversial proposal to have the Park Slope Food Coop join an international boycott against Israeli – made products was the idea of a small loud group. The proposal to ban Israeli products from Brownstone Brooklyn grocery store spurred controversy and lively debates for several months, and the vote was the end of a tensioned time.
As expected, the discussion moved over to civil rights and people debating often divagated from the actual topic, whether or not banning Israeli products would have an impact in the global market. A woman even started talking about the deaths of 1,600 Palestinians while mixing it with the morality of the Sabra hummus, when the audience stopped her.
The members got so active during the debate, that anti-Semitic allegations were murmured. However, one speaker stated firmly that “criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic”, while another pointed out to the fact that “Israeli is a massive military power, funded with billions of our tax dollars…colonizing Palestinian land”.
Although such debates might seem for some to be just a waste of time, their purpose is to remind consumers the power they have. A big enough community can vote to ban products made in a country that denies others civil rights and is a military power in the attempt to make life easier for people across the planet.