Ithaca’s Anti-Israel BDS Crowd Urges GreenStar to Boycott Israeli Products

Update 5/16: Legal Insurrection reports that the BDS push failed. Huge BDS loss – GreenStar Food Coop rejects Israel boycott In the progressive paradise that is Ithaca, the ugly head of the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement rears itself often. Just this past Sunday afternoon, Ithaca's own GreenStar Natural Foods Market, an organic food store, was the site of a public presentation organized by local BDS supporters calling for GreenStar to boycott Israeli food products. The event was part of the Ithaca Campaign for Food Justice in Palestine organized by the Central New York Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP). Legal Insurrection recently reported on this group's Facebook page showing a photoshop of Holocaust inmates holding pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli signs. The picture has since been removed from the Facebook page, but below is Legal Insurrection's screenshot of it. I-Acknowledge-Apartheid-Exists-Facebook-Image-Holocaust-Survivors-with-Anti-Israel-Signs-Central-NY-Committee

The three products CJP is asking GreenStar to cease selling are Sabra hummus, Tribe hummus, and Israeli peppers. Sabra hummus, which was an official sponsor of this year’s Super Bowl, is manufactured by The Strauss Group and co-owned by PepsiCo. The chip dip is the subject of BDS animosity because Strauss gives financial aid and has “adopted” the Golani Brigade, which has participated in nearly every major military operation since the Arab-Israeli War of 1947-48 and is the Israeli Defense Force’s most decorated unit. The call to boycott Tribe Hummus is due to the fact that the product’s maker, the Osem Group, is a key financial contributor to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a non-profit that owns 13% of Israel’s land and in the past only sold land to Jews. The call to boycott Israeli peppers is due to the fact that some peppers exported by Israel are grown in Palestinian territories and often involve child labor.

As per its founding policies, GreenStar allows its members to submit petitions and requests for GreenStar to boycott certain products–its so-called “right of referendum.” There is currently a boycott on most Chinese products due to GreenStar members’ concerns about Chinese-Nepal relations and working conditions in Chinese factories and farms.

GreenStar has no stated position on the nature of the referendum calling for a boycott on the three products specified above.

CJP’s event was held at The Space, a large room adjacent to GreenStar’s store that it rents out from time to time for public or private events. About 75 people in total showed up, though a significant number present were pro-Israelis or otherwise skeptical community members.

The event began with a long, meandering presentation by Ariel Gold, a local pro-Palestinian activist who recently took her two young children and a friend to Palestine for a three week vacation. Gold discussed how fantastic her journeys through Palestine were, and how much her children–one son and one daughter, neither of whom appears older than 13–enjoyed confronting machine gun-wielding IDF soldiers and protesting alongside Palestinians amid the explosions of tear gas canisters. She reminisced about the hospitality of a local Palestinian family, and lamented at the agony of visiting Israeli relatives who she said were politically liberal but were also, shockingly, pro-Israel.

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Gold’s son next to a Canadian-born IDF soldier. According to Gold, this confrontation was not a friendly one.

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Gold’s children playing with grenades and tear gas canisters.

Following this hour-long vacation highlight reel, the focus finally turned to the boycott referendum. Various speakers took turns making cases for boycotting the hummus brands and the peppers. At the end, the floor opened up to Q&A, which rapidly devolved into a fracas. The event organizers quickly called an end to the Q&A despite numerous audience members with lingering hands in the air desiring to ask more questions, closing the first chapter in the push to bring BDS to GreenStar.

According to the event organizers, the referendum will most likely go to vote in the fall. In the mean time, The Cornell Review expects to see a lot more intra-community squabbling over the matter.

For some reason, Ithaca’s disaffected liberal elitists and extreme leftists, like those across the Western world, feel the inescapable urge to insert themselves in Middle Eastern politics by trying to bring the state of Israel to its economic knees–or so they wish. BDS supporters and activists say their actions concern economically hurting companies that do significant business in Israel, provide products for Israel’s military and security forces, are located in Palestinian territories, or use Palestinian labor.

In reality, their aim is much more sinister. Mild-mannered liberals in the West might buy into the “peace and justice” aura of BDS, but the movement, as specified by its original creators and real leaders, seeks an end to Israel. BDS seeks a one-state solution—that is, only Palestine—where non-Jews will comprise the majority, and from there the Jews will once again be expelled from their homeland—the land which they have spent every year defending since regaining it.

After the event, your correspondent and a fellow Reviewer decided to get some Sabra hummus for the Superbowl. Highly recommended. IMG_1507

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