Israeli Representative Visits to Influence Local Co-op Board Decision

Israeli Representative Visits to Influence Local Co-op Board Decision
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Published September 20th, 2010 - 07:25 GMT

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A proposed boycott of products at a food co-op in Port Townsend
prompted a visit from the Israeli Deputy Consul General for the
Pacific Northwest.

Five member/owners of the Port Townsend Food Co-op presented a
proposal to co-op board of directors asking the store to pull seven
products from its shelves until Israel complies with U.N. decisions
regarding occupied territories and lifts both the siege on Gaza and
apartheid on Palestinians. Proponents of the boycott have gathered
hundreds of signatures in support of the proposal.

Gideon Lustig, Israeli deputy consul general, flew from San Francisco
to travel to Port Townsend, Washington, a rural town with a population
of 8,000, located near the Canadian border. Lustig spoke at a public
presentation arranged by "Stand With Us", a Seattle lobbying
group. Lustig also attempted to hold a secret meeting with the Food
Co-op board of directors.

Sam Gibboney, the co-op board president, had agreed to a secret
meeting with the consul general. The meeting was reported in a local
newspaper, and prompted criticism for operating behind closed doors
and violating co-op by-laws and governing policies. The board is
required to hold open and transparent board meetings, unless there is
a compelling reason for privacy. Gibboney has since revoked the
invitation to other board members after public outcry. Gibboney will
meet with the consul general in a private meeting before the consul
general returns to San Francisco. That meeting is closed to the public
and co-op member-owners.

"We wish that Sam Gibboney had given the same courtesy to listen to
the member-owners that she was elected to represent.", said Liz
Rivera Goldstein, one of the proponents of the boycott. Recently,
several educational events have been organized by both sides of the
boycott issue. Gibboney has not attended any of the public forums.
Only one food co-op board member has been seen at any of the recent
forums and slide shows organized to educate the community about the
issues of human rights violations and continued military action
against civilian populations.

The Israeli consul general's office had previously attempted to
influence members of the Olympia Co-op board of directors after they
approved a similar boycott proposal in July. The Olympia co-op board
did not agree to talk with the Israeli representative.

Tuesday, September 21, the Food Co-op board will hold a special
meeting to vote on the boycott proposal. The board has invited co-op
member/owners to attend and comment before the board discuses and
votes upon the boycott proposal. The meeting takes place at 6 pm at
the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave., in
Port Townsend. 

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