If you tune into the local nightly news, you’ve probably seen coverage of the latest internecine political battles at the Park Slope Food Co-op: Three years ago, a small group of members determined to protest Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza mobilized to remove all Israeli products from the store shelves – all five or so Israeli products.
After thirty six some odd months of slow intensification, the fracas reached its climax last night, when about 1,660 of the Co-op’s 15,500 members turned out to vote on whether or not to bring the issue to a vote. The victors? More Hummus Please, a group formed to oppose the boycott (who are on record characterizing the proposed ban as an attempt to eliminate the state of Israel), prevailed, with 1,005 votes against bringing the issue to a vote and 653 in favor.
The Daily Show visited the Co-op the day before the vote and filed this report:
The Co-op has a long, proud history of spirited debate. Epic campaigns have raged over whether to sell beer, meat and bottled water. South African goods were taken off the shelves during apartheid and Chilean produce was banned during Pinochet’s reign. General Electric, Coca-Cole and Domino products do not grace the shelves. But as The New York Times reported last week, there’s a sense that more and more members are turned off by the rhetorical warfare and just want to shop:
“Outside the co-op the other night, activists from each side of the debate tried to buttonhole members, only to be ignored by most.
“Can we encourage you to vote no?” an antiboycott activist asked as he thrust a leaflet at Ron Eugenio, who was with his wife, Jenny, and daughter, Violette.
“I’ll read it and figure it out,” he replied, quickly moving away.
As the couple carried their purchases to their car, Mr. Eugenio, a case manager at an intellectual property law firm, and Ms. Eugenio, an admissions director at a private school in Manhattan, said they joined the co-op for the healthy, inexpensive food.
“It’s not to make a political statement,” Mr. Eugenio said.
As she waited for a car to pick her up, Nechama Marcus, a graphic designer, patiently listened to an activist’s arguments. After a pause, she said cheerfully, “I’m for good food!”
The activist moved toward another target. Ms. Marcus looked down at her brimming shopping cart and sighed. “I have a lot of cooking to do,” she said.“
Want more? Gothamist has a detailed blow-by-blow of the proceedings from inside last night’s meeting.