This past Thursday, May 28, in a 9-0 vote, the Washington State Supreme Court vacated a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed against Olympia Food Co-op board members for their enactment of a discriminatory boycott of Israeli products.
The Lawfare Project played an active role in the case, submitting an amicus curiae brief in favor of the plaintiffs and arguing improper application of Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute, and publishing analysis to counter the rhetoric of BDS proponents concerning the scope of the lower court’s dismissal.
Not only did the previous ruling prevent the plaintiff Co-op members’ claims from ad-vancing to trial, but it also imposed upon them $232,000 in fees and penalties. This out-come was reached pursuant to the state anti-SLAPP statute, which the Supreme Court struck down for violating the right of trial by jury.
The Olympia Food Co-op is the only commercial establishment in the U.S. to officially vote to boycott Israeli products. The anti-Israel BDS vote at the Olympia Food Co-op passed because the Olympia Food Co-op board gave its community no notice or oppor-tunity to debate before voting. The co-op board decided to vote on the boycott resolution at a regularly scheduled co-op board meeting, with no mention of a possible vote on the agenda, in a room filled with organized BDS supporters, with no one in opposition pre-sent. And in violation of specific requirements of its own board-adopted boycott policy, the Olympia food co-op board voted on the BDS boycott proposal.
In every other case, where co-ops have faced anti-Israel BDS boycott resolutions, the co-ops notified their members and allowed for open debate before voting. And in each case where the community debated, BDS lost.
Thanks to last week’s decision, the plaintiffs do not have to pay the immense bill, and they may now have their day in court to challenge the board members’ adoption of boy-cott policies in violation of the Co-op’s own rules. Moreover, the holding paves the way for future lawsuits against entities that engage in discriminatory BDS conduct.