Friday, June 20, 2008

Boycott of Apartheid Israel:

"While the board could have decided to place the item on the ballot..."

Of course a Food Co-op can take a stand for the starving, occupied people of Palestine.

A Co-op can boycott Israel: the occupying power.

But look at the arrogance of the people running the People's Food Co-op, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Their article, below, makes it clear that the People's Food Co-op refused to even put a boycott on the ballot... until over 600 petitioners forced boycott onto the ballot.

Are they encouraging 300 Food Co-ops, nationwide, to also stonewall any future boycotts against Israel?

After 15 months of boycott campaigning, the Co-op still refuses to even acknowledge what is being done to Palestine, and by whom.

Near the end of their essay, the Co-op authors arrogantly highlight the fact that they simply WILL NOT DISCUSS Palestine.

Here are some excerpts from their recent article, sent out to hundreds of Food Co-ops:

"Co-op Challenged by Member Boycott Request"

By Linda Diane Feldt and Kevin Sharp

Issue #136, may - june 2008

Published in "The Cooperative Grocer", a trade publication for nearly 300 food cooperatives across the United States.

The full article is on the Web at:

"The views and perspective expressed are our own, and not necessarily those of the co-op members, the co-op staff, or the board of directors of People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor Michigan.

"In the beginning of 2007, the People’s Food Co-op (PFC) board of directors was asked by a group of co-op members to show humanitarian support for Palestinians by initiating a boycott of Israeli products. The issue is complex. In addition, a number of problems were encountered in determining the board’s response to the request, when and to what extent to involve the entire membership, and under what timelines. The experience provided some valuable lessons.

"Perhaps most notable among the learning points was the lack of a clear boycott policy to work from. A detailed boycott policy had existed, but it was omitted when the PFC board of directors switched to Policy Governance. While that former policy provided a model for how to proceed, we actually had no boycott policy in place.

"In addition, at that time the board was in a state of change and difficulty. The seven-member board had had two recent resignations with no replacements. The general manager of more than 15 years had recently resigned; we had an interim general manager while searching for a permanent replacement.

"Member requests were rare, and the petitioning group was dedicated and persistent in requesting the boycott. Based on the past policy, the board agreed that such a significant and potentially controversial decision belonged with the membership and not with the board of directors.

"While the board could have decided to place the item on the ballot, it decided to ask the group requesting the boycott to go through a petitioning process outlined in our bylaws. This was done to determine whether there was member support to put a referendum to a vote: PFC bylaws require at least 7 percent of the members’ signatures on a petition for a referendum, a number that was eventually achieved by the petitioners...."

"...A final controversy was the lack of observers to oversee the ballot counting. In this case we did have extensive policy on how voting is to be conducted, from the collection of ballots, validation and the actual count. However, there is no mention of member oversight of the ballot count. The board voted on the question and declined to allow member participation.

"When the boycott was defeated, the issue of ballot count oversight became a hot point for the boycott supporters, who accused the board of manipulating the vote or claimed that ballots must have been stolen and manufactured. No formal charges or evidence were ever produced, but the accusations persist. The board has since passed an observer policy allowing limited involvement....

"...While this has been a narrative of key points of this process, you can’t help but notice that there has been no mention of some of the issues involved. Should the co-op carry products from Israel? What about Palestinian products? Are there joint peaceful efforts to support? The board was asked to be a part of efforts to resolve the conflict in the Middle East, a task we were not prepared for..."