Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Olympia Food Co-op boycotts Israel, pulls products"

"Olympia Food Co-op boycotts Israel, pulls products--

"Olympia Food Co-op: Products pulled after board decides to boycott nation"

Published in THE OLYMPIAN (Olympia, Washington, USA)

On the Web at:

by ROLF BOONE; Staff writer
Published July 21, 2010

OLYMPIA – Olympia Food Co-op members will get another chance next month to discuss a controversial board decision to boycott Israeli products at its two stores.

Nine of the co-op board’s 10 members voted Thursday to participate in the international boycott. Harry Levine, a staff representative to the board, said he didn’t take a stand on the issue.

Not everyone on the co-op staff agrees with the decision, Levine said. He said that outside of his role as a board member, he supports it.

“My personal view is that boycotts can be effective tools in changing governments,” he said. “I personally support it, and I’m an American Jew.”

The board voted to boycott Israeli products as a way to “compel Israel to follow international law and respect Palestinian human rights,” according to a statement the board released. The boycott announcement has been posted on the co-op’s website,, as well as at its two stores.

Israeli products removed from the stores include gluten-free crackers, ice cream cones and a moisturizing cream, Levine said.

This is not the first time that the 33-year-old co-op has taken part in a boycott, he said. It has boycotted products from Norway and China in objection to whaling and human rights violations.

Members have been asking the board since at least 2008 to boycott Israeli products, Levine said. About 50 co-op members were at Thursday’s board meeting, he said. The co-op has 15,000 to 20,000 members who are considered active. It costs $29 over a period of four years to join the co-op, although $24 of that is refundable if a member leaves.

Since last week’s vote, the co-op has received more positive than negative e-mails from all over the world about the decision, as well as phone calls, Levine said. An employee who answered the phone at the co-op’s east-side location Tuesday said the store had received a “few hundred calls....”



A meeting to discuss the Olympia Food Co-op’s participation in a boycott of Israeli products is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. N.W., board member Harry Levine said Tuesday.


To comment on participation in the boycott, send an e-mail to or call 360-357-1106, ext. 12.