According to reports, at the end of March, the Brooklyn-based coop, which boasts more than 15,500 members, will decide whether or not to hold a referendum on joining the virulently anti-Israel, quasi-anti-Semitic BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.
The goal of the BDS movement is to ostracize Israel among the nations of the world by placing it in the same category as the hated apartheid regime of South Africa and, thereby, use economic pressure to force Israel to make unilateral concessions to the Palestinians which would ultimately result in harming the Jewish state.
Attorney Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the AIFL, called the BDS movement not only “misguided and discriminatory,” but also “tinged with anti-Semitism.” Holding a referendum on the issue, he said, gives legitimacy to a policy that encourages bigotry and intolerance.
AIFL Vice President Paul Kaplan noted the historical parallel between the current BDS campaign and the one employed by the Nazi regime before and during World War II. Its purpose was to delegitimize Jews and their businesses as a first step in dehumanizing the Jewish population.
“The BDS campaign should be called out for what it is-a close alignment with the Nazi propaganda of the 1930›s and 1940›s,” said Mr. Kaplan, a practicing attorney and law professor in New York.
Mr. Bialkin pointed out that while BDS supporters demand self-determination for the Palestinians, they resolutely refuse to acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their historic homeland, Israel.
“BDS supporters, who blame Israel alone for the conflict in the region, are waging a political, economic, cultural, and ideological campaign to delegitimize the State. The BDS movement applies a double-standard, criticizing Israel mercilessly, dishonestly, and unfairly, while ignoring abuses by other nations and the role of the Palestinians in the conflict,” said Mr. Bialkin.
Equally egregiously, he said, the BDS movement proceeds without care for the Palestinians whose jobs would be jeopardized by boycotts against Israeli products and companies which have many Arab employees.
“The BDS›s rhetoric notwithstanding, boycotting Israeli products does nothing to help the Palestinians improve their lives. No wonder ardent peace activists oppose BDS campaigns as counterproductive,” said Mr. Bialkin.
The effort to convince the Park Slope coop to join the BDS movement is led by “Hima B,” an artist and filmmaker who, according to her website, is a former stripper whose work focuses on homosexual activism. She claims she wants to force Israel to stop its “apartheid policies” against the Palestinians.
Mr. Bialkin called the “false analogy” between Democratic Israel and apartheid South Africa a “fabricated attempt to isolate and stigmatize Israel.”
“Under apartheid, black South Africans were not permitted to vote and they were not citizens. Israeli-Arabs, by contrast, are full citizens of the state. Just like their Jewish counterparts, they vote and are represented in the Israeli Knesset, as well as on the Supreme Court of Israel. They attend schools and universities and enjoy all the rights of citizenship. Even Arab residents of the Palestinian Authority are permitted to work in Israel, where they receive the same salaries and benefits given to Jews,” said Mr. Bialkin.
In the effort to retain the right of members of the Park Slope Food Coop to purchase fine Israeli products, the AIFL is supporting “More Hummus Please,” the group opposed to the referendum.
Mr. Bialkin agreed with the leader of the anti-boycott group, Barbara Mazor, that the coop›s chief function should not be to impose a political point of view on its members, but, rather, to help them all save money on food.
Joe Holtz, the manager of the Park Slope Food Coop, said holding the referendum would probably hurt the enterprise. Some members have already told him they will leave the coop if the referendum is held. Even Ms. Mazor said she already shops at the coop less frequently because of the anguish caused by the issue. She said she will consider leaving entirely if a referendum is held. Merely conducting a referendum of the topic lends undue legitimacy to an illegitimate campaign, she said.