Park Slope Food Coop, Stand for Human Rights - Say No to Exploitation and Apartheid!

Dear members of the Park Slope Food Coop,
We are members of Boycott From Within, a group of Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call and international campaign against Israel's human-rights and international law violations. We support the initiative to boycott Israeli products from the Park Slope Food Coop and we are asking for your help in passing this initiative and more generally to help our struggle to change the Israeli government's policies.

The decision to stop selling Israeli products in your co-op should be seen in line with the co-op's decision to stop selling California grapes in solidarity with the United Farmworks' Union, and boycotting products from Apartheid South-Africa. As in these cases, the call to boycott Israel comes from the oppressed people themselves, in this case, the Palestinians subjected to Israel's system of apartheid and colonial oppression. Some of them are sheep herders who live in caves and own next to nothing except for their flock. In the southern part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank such Palestinian sheep herders, live in proximity to Israeli settlers who were settled there in violation of the Geneva conventions. According to Amnesty International:
Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater. In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools. Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million. [1]
Israel's illegal settlements are connected to the electric grid courtesy of the Israeli government. Palestinians living in tents underneath the high power lines are denied access to electricity and when an Israeli NGO built solar panels and wind turbines to supply electricity to the isolated communities the Israeli army intervened to prevent the installation and threatened to demolish them[2]. Israel has accelerated its demolition policy against Palestinian built structures in 2011 according to the UN Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs[3] The UN report further notes that “Many of the residents report living in a state of pervasive insecurity and instability due to administrative practices implemented by the Israeli authorities.” This extends to all aspects of Palestinian lives and represents one of the major achievements of the worlds fourth strongest army as Israeli veterans testify, their orders were to create a constant feeling of persecution[4]. The long term goal of such policies is no secret. According to the former adviser to the Defense Minister on "fabric of life" issues, Haggai Alon "There is a military policy that is causing the Arab population to leave the center of Hebron. It's a clear plan, it's a fact.”[5]
The driving force in Israel's policy in the West Bank is the construction of illegal settlements. Practically the entire world is united in opposition to Israeli settlements. However, American political support makes it possible for Israel to continue building settlements. This was most clearly demonstrated at the UN Security Council where an American veto (in contradiction of the official US position) prevented a resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal. This is only the latest of dozens such cases when the US used its veto power to protect Israel from condemnation[6].
When Palestinians resist they can be jailed without trial such as in the recent case of Khader Adnan who went on a hunger strike for 66 days demanding to be released or face the accusations against him.[7] Not that trial in a military court would prevent Palestinians from being unjustly imprisoned. As in the case of Abdallah Abu Rahma for example. Abu Rahma is a protest organizer whose conviction was condemned by Amnesty International[8] the British Foreign Office[9] amongst many others. A notable exception to the condemnation of Abu Rahma's imprisonment is the US state department. In one sense the lack of American condemnation of Israeli policies is justified. Given the complete dependence of the Israel military on American weapons and funding and Israel's complete dependence on American political backing the Israeli occupation and settlements should be called American-Israeli policies. It would be hypocritical for the US government to condemn the settlements which it enables and defends against condemnation.
Like others around the world, Palestinians are not naive enough to think that the American government which finances their subjugation will support their liberation. However they are aware of the capacity of the American public to oppose the policies of their government and are appealing to US civil society to follow the inspiring examples of earlier American movements.
In 2005 a united statement by hundreds of Palestinians organizations called for a comprehensive boycott of Israel “until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.”[10] This call has resonated with many internationally and within Israel, and has been steadily growing into a global human-rights based movement.
We urge you to live up to the principles of the Park Slope Food Coop's mission statement which states that: “We seek to avoid products that depend on the exploitation of others.” The selling of Israeli products means more than the economic impact it has. More importantly it indicates a situation of business as usual and the message that Israel receives from that, even if not intended is that it can continue to deny Palestinians their rights without worrying about American pressure. On the other hand, a show of solidarity in respecting the Palestinian call for boycott empowers the oppressed people in their struggle. This kind of support sustains Palestinians in their daily struggles and gives hope to the popular struggle for Palestinian rights.
Ohal Grietzer and Kobi Snitz
On behalf of Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within

1 (see also an older report from the Center for Economic and Social Rights:

2 see also

3Cited in haarez and the original is available here