Following the intervention of the Israeli Consulate and a national lobbying group, the Port Townsend Food Coop Board of Directors decided to reject a proposal to boycott Israeli products on Tuesday night. A similar proposal had been passed at the Olympia Food Co-op on July 16, the first of its kind to pass in the country. "This kind of interference by the Israeli government and a national organization show how important boycotts are to Israel," said Anna-Marie Murano, Olympia Food Co-op member, "Boycott supporters are telling Israel that it will not benefit from the ongoing oppression of Palestinians."
In July, a group of Port Townsend Co-op member-owners presented a proposal to the board, asking that the store pull Israeli products from its shelves until Israel complies with U.N. decisions regarding the occupied territories, lifts the siege on Gaza, ends its hafrada (apartheid) policies against Palestinians, and recognizes the refugees' right of return. Over 350 members signed a petition supporting the boycott.
The meeting, held at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, was attended by approximately 120 people and at times very emotional.
"In 5, 10, or 15 years, when the full impact of what happens in Gaza, the West Bank, and in Israel becomes as known to the world as earlier crimes, I want to be able to look my daughter in the eye and say we did everything we could to stop the killing," stated boycott supporter Dena Shunra, drawing on her family's World War II experience and placing the boycott proposal in a historical context.
The reason stated for rejection of the proposal was that "the boycott proposal is inconsistent with the [Coop's] boycott policy." Board president Sam Gibboney said that there is nothing in the boycott policy that permits the boycotting of a country. The board's vote was 4 to 2 against the proposal.
The boycott proposal generated much needed discussion about Palestinian human rights, which opponents have not succeeded to silence. "Our anguish here is just a fraction of what people in Gaza experience", said Kit Kittredge of Quilcene, WA, a boycott supporter who has visited the Gaza Strip several times.
Boycott supporters are confident that the momentum will continue. Palestine is now 'on the map', and people will continue to educate themselves about the conflict, support Palestinian human rights, and organize support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
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