[Marxism] Ginia Bellafante attack on BDS

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 4 10:00:39 MST 2012

(This is the same idiot who wrote a snide piece on OWS early on. She 
really is a piece of work. From the wiki on her:

Her writing has been criticized for its superficial treatment of gender 
issues: Her 1998 Time cover story "Is Feminism Dead?" was critiqued by 
Erica Jong. According to Jong, "Time's idiotic cover story on feminism 
is, in short, a symptom of what's wrong, not an analysis".[4] Salon.com 
described it as "poorly thought-out".[3] Her 2011 New York Times review 
of the TV series Game of Thrones was widely criticized as sexist for 
suggesting that only sexual content might motivate women to watch a 
complex fantasy story.[5]

NY Times March 2, 2012
Food Co-op Politics Leave a Bad Taste

Many years ago, after graduating from college to a $15,600-a-year job as 
an editorial assistant, I moved to Park Slope, celebrating my pioneering 
spirit. It was the late 1980s, long before the affluent enclaves of 
Brooklyn had become an ever-expanding temple to all the different things 
that might be done with Tuscan kale. The Park Slope Food Co-op was the 
center of culinary interest, such as it was. I wanted to love it, but a 
brief flirtation confirmed my suspicions that the co-op was a place 
where people in overalls behaved unpleasantly toward you and where 
arriving at consensus over the price of a plum took longer than the 
first and second phases of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks.

Collectivism, of course, makes a fetish of process. That is probably the 
most benign way to interpret what has recently been going on at the 
co-op, the largest in the country, owned and operated by its 16,000 
members. For a few years now, a small contingent has been debating 
whether the organization should join the global movement known as BDS, 
which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until 
it returns all Arab land occupied in 1967.

Every other week, the co-op’s newspaper is consumed not only by epic, 
impassioned, sometimes-vitriolic letters about the issue, but also 
letters about how to talk about the issue, about how to think about the 
Middle East and about the appropriateness of these kinds of debates in a 
place that above all exists to purvey the right kind of clementine. 
There are letters about the kinds of typographical errors made in these 
letters. At the co-op’s next monthly meeting, on March 27, a vote will 
be conducted to decide whether a bigger vote, among all co-op members, 
ought to be conducted, authorizing a boycott of Israeli products.

Calling for a boycott of Israeli-made foods at the Park Slope Food Co-op 
turns out to be a lot like calling for a boycott of Speedos in Minsk. In 
addition to Sodastream seltzer makers and replacement cartridges, there 
are currently only a handful of foods in the whole establishment 
produced in Israel. One of them, an olive spread made by a company 
called Peaceworks, uses olives grown in Palestinian villages and glass 
jars made in Egypt. The company diverts 5 percent of its profits to 
peace-promoting causes.

That a protest of this scope would be both dubious as a symbolic gesture 
and utterly absurd as a means of levying economic impact has hardly 
diluted the tensions of those invested. Great effort is being made to 
defeat something unlikely to occur. Inside the co-op, an antiboycott 
faction, which calls itself More Hummus Please, has arisen and organized 
a conference under the heading The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Today: 
Obstacles and Opportunities, scheduled for Sunday. Regional experts and 
academics like the philosopher Michael Walzer were invited to speak.

Presumably, less energy has gone into creating super PACs. In seeking 
the best way to deliver its message to the world of Park Slope, the 
group reached out to the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York 
and a local rabbi, Andy Bachman of Congregation Beth Elohim, who 
counseled the antiboycott people to keep the tone of the event nuanced. 
Sunday’s conference will be held at Old First Reformed Church, near the 

“The BDS people have been having their events in the co-op itself,” 
Marion Stein, a 15-year member, told me, “and that’s something that we 
in the Hummus group find very upsetting.”

The intensity of the conversation belies the extent to which the vast 
majority of co-op members don’t care about a potential boycott, Ms. 
Stein acknowledged. This was borne out as I stood in front of the co-op 
one rainy afternoon last week and met several people who knew nothing 
about the debate and several others who had no interest, and more who 
were irritated by the fact the discussion was taking place at all.

“The whole thing is ridiculous,” Matt Lewkowicz, a young composer, said 
of the boycott. “I have plenty of outlets for my political opinions. The 
co-op isn’t one of them. I just want really good dried fruit.”

As I was speaking with Mr. Lewkowicz, other young people, students at 
New York University, were gearing up for a demonstration outside 
Weinstein dining hall the following day. The issue there is the presence 
of a Chick-fil-A.

The N.Y.U. outpost is the only branch of the Southern chain in New York 
City. Led by Hillary Dworkoski, a freshman, some students want it 
evicted from the campus because Chick-fil-A has given money to groups 
opposing same-sex marriage. That the company, which is led by 
evangelical Christians, has given tens of millions more through its 
foundation to help send financially disadvantaged children to college 
and assist the poor did not offset things in Ms. Dworkoski’s mind. Nor 
did it seem especially relevant that gay marriage, being legalized in 
one state after another, has gained a momentum in this country that a 
retailer of waffle fries is unlikely to impede. Last year, when the 
issue came before N.Y.U.’s Student Senators Council, the student 
government body, the group voted against banning Chick-fil-A as a matter 
of free expression.

The co-op, despite the wonderful job it does providing organic foods at 
affordable prices, suffers from its own adolescent myopia: It believes 
that what it does has broad implications. Suppressing hummus on Union 
Street won’t change the world.

E-mail: bigcity at nytimes.com

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