WASHINGTON DC, July 20 (JMCC) – A US supermarket chain has become the first American grocery store to officially join the global grassroots boycott of Israel
The Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia, Washington reached the decision to remove all Israeli-made products from its shelves during a board meeting on July 15.
Co-op board member Rob Richards explained, “My hope is that by being the first in the US to adopt the boycott we act as a catalyst for other co-ops to join in. Each additional organizational entity that joins may have a very small effect on the big picture, but drop by drop fills the tub.
Although the decision is aimed at all Israeli products, regardless of whether they are made inside the occupied Palestinian territories, it does take into account companies that take a more peaceful approach.
One such product, “Peace Oil,” is exempt from the boycott because it works for fair trade in the Palestinian territories and the Galilee.
The decision by the Olympia Food Co-op is being heralded as a victory by the Olympia branch of the BDS movement, the global campaign promoting a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions agenda against Israel since 2005.
Noah Sochet, a co-op member and Olympia BDS organizer adds, “As a US citizen and as a Jew, I’m proud to say that my co-op no longer underwrites the suffering in Palestine.”
The Olympia Food Co-op has a long history of activism, participating in a boycott of China for the ongoing conflict with Tibet, as well as other US domestic boycotts.
Their latest decision comes on the heel of boycotts by two Italian grocery store chains, COOP and Nordiconad, to stop selling all Israeli products in their stores.
The global boycott movement is beginning to take hold in the United States, where support for Israel is generally high.
TIAA-CREF, a giant pension fund in the United States divested from the African-Israel investment fund in December of 2009.
In March and April, the student union at the University of California Berkeley fought a major battle to divest from two companies considered doing business with the Israeli occupation. The bill first passed, then was vetoed, and then miss a two-thirds majority fall short by a single vote.
In June, dockworkers in Oakland refused to cross a picket line to unload an Israeli cargo ship docking in the Port of Oakland.