Friday, October 12, 2007

"By a landslide, co-op rejects Israel boycott:

"People's Food Co-op board members say they're still open to debate" MICHIGAN DAILY (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

On the Web at:

Despite the efforts of a group called Boycott Israeli Goods, products made in Israel will remain on the shelves of the People's Food Co-op of Ann Arbor.

At a meeting of the co-op's Board of Directors last night, officials announced the outcome of a vote to determine whether the organization should boycott Israeli products. The final vote was 262 members in favor of the ban and 866 opposing it.

The motion to boycott Israeli goods started this summer when Boycott Israeli Goods proposed a referendum to the co-op's board. The group aimed to protest what it said was cruel treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.

Although the co-op's Board of Directors rejected the proposed referendum, the group collected 600 signatures - enough to force a vote by co-op members.

A majority of the votes was needed to implement the ban.

After announcing the vote tally yesterday evening at Hathaway's Hideaway, a meeting place on South Ashley Street, People's Food Co-op President Linda Feldt said she received hundreds of e-mails and had conversations about the issue with both passionate supporters and opponents of the boycott. She said she doesn't expect that to end.

"If someone would like to challenge the vote, I will be in touch tomorrow," she said.

Another boycott of Israeli goods could still be proposed in the future, said Kevin Sharp, the co-op's marketing and member services director, in a phone interview yesterday.

The audience at the meeting was a mix of Boycott Israeli Goods members and opponents of the ban.

Although he was satisfied with the outcome, Stephen Pastner, a visiting associate professor of anthropology at the University, clenched his fists during the board meeting. Pastner said he was furious at the motivations of the boycott's supporters.

"I'm very angry at these people because they represent a perversion of everything I believe in," Pastner said. "I consider myself a political progressive: they have co-opted the name of being progressive. They call themselves Jewish, witnesses for peace, but they're anti-Semites, and they're not for peace."

Ann Arbor resident Elaine Rumman, who said she is Palestinian, spoke against the outcome of the vote when addressing members of the board. She said the Israeli government uses its power over the Palestinian people unjustly.

"I'm not happy at all for sure because they can do anything with power," she said. "The Gaza is really shut off from all ways, I mean - why're they doing that?"

Some members of Boycott Israeli Goods said the outcome was skewed by the way the voting and balloting were organized. During a question-and-answer session, audience members repeatedly asked questions the possibility of ballot fraud.

Ed Morin, a Boycott Israeli Goods member, said the ballots could have affected the outcome because they were confusing, but he said there were other factors in play.

"It wouldn't have been this lopsided if that were the only cause," said Morin, who ran unsuccessfully for the University Board of Regents in 2006 on the Green Party ticket. "I think a bigger factor is that we had opponents who were clearly supporting Israel unconditionally - in other words, Israel was their chief value, and they weren't going to subject Israeli behavior to any moral criteria."

He said many people were likely influenced to vote against the proposal by the members of the board who were concerned about the co-op's image.

"If the ballot passes, we'll lose a lot of members, we'll lose business, and we'll lose money," he said, imagining the board's rationale. "It's not good for the co-op, and therefore this sort of thing shouldn't be happening here."

--End of "Michigan Daily" article--


"People's Food Co-op won't boycott Israeli products"

Posted by Jo Mathis | The Ann Arbor News

October 11, 2007 19:42PM

On the Web at:

"The membership of the People's Food Co-op has rejected a member-initiated referendum to boycott Israeli products.

"The final vote - announced tonight - was 262 members in favor, and 866 opposed. A total of 1,128 valid votes were cast.

"Members on both sides had threatened to leave the co-op depending on the results.

"The controversy began months ago when a few shoppers noticed some Israeli couscous for sale at the co-op's store on Fourth Avenue and formed a group called Boycott Israeli Goods. They stood outside the co-op and collected about 600 signatures of co-op members who believe the issue should be put to a vote.

"That was enough to force a referendum on the issue among the nearly 6,000 members, who were invited to cast one vote each during the month of September."


Post a comment

Posted by Palestinians on 10/11/07 at 8:19PM

"This process of pushing for a vote to boycott Israel has taken approximately nine months.

"Palestine has been occupied since 1948 by a violently racist colonial army from Europe.

"Palestinians have not given up, after 59 years of pure hell. If Palestinians still demand their freedom, then we should persist in echoing that demand. We won't give up until Palestine gives up.

"And that will never happen. More boycotts of Israel will come. Think of the boycott movements against Apartheid South Africa. They took more than nine months to succeed. But succeed they did.

"Those who back Israeli apartheid will live to see Israel boycotted everywhere. They will live to see that racist dog of a state ("Israel") totally abolished.

"And Palestine will be free at last."

Posted by skz468 on 10/11/07 at 8:30PM

"Maybe Palestine shouldn't of started a war with Israel 59 years ago."

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On the official Co-op Web site at:


"The following results have been accepted by the People’s Food Co-op’s board of directors at their October 11, 2007 meeting:

"Regarding the proposed referendum,

"Shall the People's Food Co-op declare that its official policy will be to boycott all Israeli goods until the Palestinian people themselves call off the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign against Israel, as represented on the Campaign's web site,, to the maximum extent allowed by our legal and financial counsel?

"AND during such a boycott,

"Shall the People's Food Co-op purchase no goods made, grown, or originated in Israel or in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank, to the maximum extent allowed by our legal and financial counsel?

"1,128 valid votes cast
262 in favor
866 opposed

"After a nearly eight-month process, the membership of the People’s Food Co-op (PFC) has rejected a member initiated referendum to boycott Israeli products. The final vote was 262 (23%) in favor and 866 opposed (77%). 1,128 valid votes were cast.

"This referendum issue has generated more member response than any previous co-op balloting, unprecedented e-mail inquiries and conversations with store staff and board members, as well as frequent activity in front of the store from members representing a wide variety of opinions and with varying tactics.

"The campaign went far to raise awareness of the complexities and concerns about the conflict in the Middle East and the many opinions and responses possible.

"PFC Board President Linda Diane Feldt had this observation: “Based on the hundreds of e-mails received and conversations I was part of I observed firsthand that the membership is deeply concerned about both the Israeli and Palestinian people and the activities of many of the governments in the area. Most of the people who contacted us did suggest wide ranging alternatives to a boycott, and specifically this boycott.”

"The process of the boycott referendum vote has reinforced the core cooperative values of the People’s Food Co-op which include democratic control and member involvement.

"Why did the People's Food Co-op Board of Directors wait 9 days to release the results of the referendum?

  • the votes are not official until the board accepts the totals at the board meeting.
  • the board wanted a few days to prepare a response for the membership and other interested people. We'd like the reported results to be accurate, to further explain the process, and to provide an informative context for the voting process.
  • PFC normally announces vote results at the annual meeting. While this is an extraordinary election, we felt that that format was still an important precedent and the board meeting is the closest thing to the annual meeting."

  • --End of the Co-op Board's Published Report--


    Fresh news today, about the strangulation sanctions, forced onto Palestine by the Israeli army, the masters of starving a whole population of Palestinians BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY VOTED:

    "Gaza goes hungry as Israeli sanctions bite"

    The Guardian (U.K.) , Friday October 12, 2007,,2189543,00.html

    "The Israeli sanctions are affecting every level of Gazan society. Farmers have been particularly hard hit as they have been barred from exporting their products and denied pesticides and fertiliser by Israel, which makes it impossible to plant for next year.

    "Spare parts for water pumps and other equipment are also barred.

    "The army recently banned the import of hearing aid batteries for Gaza's school for the deaf on the grounds that they could be used to make bombs.

    "It is reducing the amount of food going into Gaza every week as it tries to exert more pressure on the population to bring about political change."


    ARBOR UPDATE (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

    "PFC boycott vote begins on Saturday"

    On the Web at:

    (Over 640 comments now follow the article)