"Pushing in Ann Arbor for boycott of Israel"
The Arab American News
August 18, 2007
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Horrified by the Israeli army’s destruction of Palestine and Lebanon, nearly 1,000 Ann Arbor residents petitioned the local grocery store to boycott Israel.
The voting will take place inside the store, starting September 1. The boycott ballot box will close on September 30.
With $900 million in annual sales, the Co-op has been an institution in Ann Arbor for over 30 years; it is proud to be one of the few stores in town promoting fair trade in business and advocating for the protection of all life on earth. The Co-op has boycotted dolphin-unsafe tuna and has supported the United Farm Workers’ grape boycott, but never supported the world-wide boycott of apartheid South Africa.
The campaign to boycott Israel was initiated when a product called "Israeli Couscous" was spotted on the co-op shelves. Openly selling products from a racist state? That seemed unthinkable, for a co-op dedicated to workers' rights and even dolphins' rights. So Ann Arbor human rights activists contacted the co-op managers, and quickly met with the co-op Board to request a humanitarian boycott against apartheid Israel.
Almost 1,000 petition signatures urging a boycott of Israel were gathered. As a result, the co-op board was compelled to schedule a Boycott-Israel Referendum. Thousands of flyers have already been handed out in front of the co-op calling for the boycott and highlighting Israel's long alliance with apartheid South Africa. The upcoming boycott vote has panicked a handful of local Zionists, who rushed to "join" the co-op so as to obstruct the referendum.
City Councilmember Joan Lowenstein complained, in co-op president Linda Feldt's blog — "…Linda, you are right: this does not bring people together but tears them apart. I hope the co-op will not single out Israel or Israeli products…"
Last summer, the Lebanese people shattered the myth of invincible Zionist power; the myth was shattered again in Ann Arbor on August 9, 2007, by an unprecedented series of public speakers addressing the food co-op's Board at their monthly meeting.
In the basement of the co-op, Israel was effectively put on trial for starving Palestinians, stealing their top-soil and making Gaza into a living hell. One after another, members of the co-op spoke with conviction against Israeli and U.S. crimes in Palestine and Iraq.
Speaking with passion, they vividly portrayed the "filthy boots of occupiers on prayer rugs" as marks of inhumanity and shame in Fallujah and Jenin.
Outrage against Israel's savage racism rose to a unified voice, with seven speakers demanding an immediate boycott of the apartheid state.
The three Zionist representatives, stunned with disbelief and in anguish, were obviously shocked at any public demands against Israel. Public action against Israeli brutality is a new thing, in Ann Arbor and in the U.S.
The legitimacy and legality of grassroots human rights boycotts were fully confirmed at the meeting.