Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Park Slope Food Coop and the Israeli Products Boycott Proposal

Tonight, the Park Slope Food Coop's general meeting votes on whether to have a coop-wide referendum on boycotting Israeli products.

Here's what's been missing from almost all of the press -- local, national and international -- on the issue: the proposal is extremely unlikely to become policy. It would first have to pass the vote tonight, and then pass the referendum. It's just not likely to happen.

Everyone can call the Coop communist or whatever it is you like, but in reality it's something of a role-model for democracy in action. People make a proposal. People vote on the proposal. Crazy stuff.

In this case, the advocates are getting attention for the issue, which is part of their point. They've benefited from the controversy. I think the anti-boycott advocates had no strategic choice but to publicly and loudly push back, despite how that would bring more attention. The press, though, has missed the point that this whole thing isn't actually going to happen. It's kind of important for the readers to know that.

There are all sorts of things out there that aren't going to happen, and often the press does a surprisingly good job not wasting your time with them. Sure, some of it gets picked up, but often it gets filtered out if it's not going anywhere. Sometimes the problem is actually the opposite. Take the Virginia ultrasound bill -- it got attention because it was about to become law. If anything it should have gotten more attention earlier on as it was gaining support quickly in a conservative legislature.

Alright that's my piece. If you really need to follow it, I'm sure just about every major NYC media outlet has found a staffer who is a Coop member and will be in the meeting and live-tweeting tonight.

Update: 653 voted in favor of holding a referendum, and 1005 voted against holding a referendum.


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