Olympia Food Co-op, the first grocery retailer in the United States refusing to sell Israeli products, is coming under attack for supporting the global BDS movement.
Protestors have been picketing outside the store in Olympia, Wa., since news broke that nine of 10 Olympia Food board members voted July 15 to boycott Israeli goods. Members have called for a general meeting, which is set for Aug. 11, according to published reports.
Some protestors say the ban is tantamount to asking for the dissolution of the state of Israel; others are threatening to withdraw their membership.
We have to ramp up our support. We cannot afford to let Olympia cave into pressure being plied by the people who support Israel, and thereby, support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
It is crucial that we continue to support Olympia Foods for taking this courageous stance. BDS is growing in this country. It is our duty to help Olympia stand strong in the face of opposition. If Olympia is successful, other retailers may begin to follow suit.
Olympia explains the need for the boycott on its website:
All forms of international intervention and peace-making have until now failed to convince or force the state of Israel to comply with humanitarian law, to respect fundamental human rights and to end its occupation and oppression of the people of Palestine. What has not been tried before is the strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions — BDS for short. This is what the Palestinian civil society has called for, and from this call, a global movement has slowly been gaining momentum and is just about to hit it big.
Even Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestinian Territories, Board Chair, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and nominee for Nobel Peace Prize 2008-2010, supports Olympia.
“The Olympia Food Co-op boycott of Israeli product bravely joins a growing worldwide movement on the part of citizens and the private sector to support by non-violent tangible acts the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination. When the UN and governments, most notably our own, fail to uphold basic rules of international humanitarian law and bring suffering to people anywhere, then there exists a human responsibility to act in solidarity. The Palestinians have been abused, and suffered for far too long, waiting futilely for their most fundamental rights to be respected.”
Olympia is asking people to sign their petition about BDS; and to email their board of directors thanking them for boycotting Israeli goods.
~ Kristin Szremski 7/23/10