The [Olympia Food Coop] Board’s unwillingness to be transparent and accountable for their decision to boycott Israeli products drove me to a 24/7 vigil in front of the West Side Coop for 15 days. The Directors voted on the boycott on July 15th. Since that time, for almost 2 ½ months they have been stonewalling requests about the process they followed and the reason for the speed in which they passed the resolution, knowing that this was a highly contentious and decisive issue for the community.
During my days spent in front of the Coop, I passed out hundreds of flyers and spoke with many, many Coop members. I got a good feel for the West Side community and how they felt about the process that the Board followed in passing the boycott. Most, even the ones that are in agreement with the boycott, said that the process was flawed and that it was reasonable to set aside the vote, have a community dialogue and then a revote.
Even at this late date, the Board of Directors still have not taken responsibility for their actions and have not recognized the severity of their impact on the staff, the Coop and the community. They knew that the staff was divided and nevertheless they made the decision to boycott. They did not follow their primary responsibility to maintain the health and welfare of the Coop.
In my opinion, most everything I experienced from the BDS supporters in my 15 day vigil was negative, confrontational and a clenched fist instead of an extended hand. My action was symbolic primarily to raise awareness for the need for peace and harmony in our community.
Where is the heart, where is the hand, where is the humanity?
Where is the care for each other in our community?
- Tibor Breuer
Disclosure: Tibor Breuer is an advertiser with OP&L.
What went wrong with the OFC boycott of Israeli products? Maybe it would be good to ask if anything really did go wrong. Maybe it’s possible that the boycott is right on, and proceeding as well as possible, given the surrounding global, and community, conditions.
Maybe the reason for so much of the division is not about process. Maybe there would have been just as much division and hurt feelings had the Board elected to hold a member forum prior to the vote. Just look at the situation in Port Townsend to see evidence of division there—despite the different approach.
Maybe the boycott is actually correct, and the division and tension in the community is the result of belligerent national policies and politics combined with fear-based rhetoric/socio-cultural patterns. Maybe the co-op action is the most sane and reasonable response possible—by a community institution that values social justice. And maybe, just maybe, the world would be a whole lot better of a place if more community institutions had the courage to see through the fear-based anger-baiting, and make decisions based on the concept that human rights are for everyone—regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, religion or ethnicity…
- Berd Whitlock
What an astonishing editorial!
I had never heard of, much less read, the OP&L until a friend sent me a recent issue. The thoughtfulness and insight of your editorial was simply astonishing. I would not be surprised to see something of this caliber once in a while in the New Yorker. But to read something this good right here in Olympia? Wow!
As a local Jew, co-op member (for the moment) and a committed activist to a negotiated peace in the Middle East, I have been enormously saddened and disappointed by the boycott fiasco. But you did a better job articulating my reasons for feeling so than I could have.
Thanks so much!
- David Hanig
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