Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Youth Revolt on Israel at Park Slope Food Coop

The Park Slope Food Coop www.foodcoop.com has monthly meetings with up to 300 participants for most of the past few years when our complete membership is 16,000. For several years we utilize a nearby synagogue: The Garfield Temple. Today we needed a bigger locale: Brooklyn Tech High School.
The high school may have fit over 2000 but the organizers didn't know that the balcony level was off grounds/forbidden.

Due to a lack of space, some coop members voted early to let others in for part of the debate. A few hundred may have come and gone and interchanged seats.

The leaders of today's meeting asked the audience of 2,000 how many of the participants were there for the very first time: half of the people's hands went up. From a brief review of the hands and noting many critics of Israel were young, I conclude that the majority of very young coop members feel Israel is worthy of deep censure.

Some of the speakers before the vote were passionately for a boycott of Israel and others were passionately against a boycott. A few Israelis spoke, I thanked one. About 30 people spoke for 2 or 3 minutes. One chasidically dressed individual was very funny and I think it was intentional. He ran up on the stage and bumped into the mike. Rabbi Andy Bachman and coop founder Joe Holtz were among the prolific speakers against the boycott. I knew Ina for a few years and Jessie, who also spoke against the boycott.

The final vote today was 1,000 against a boycott (or a "referendum on a boycott") against 653 for a boycott. I hope we will buy more Israeli and Palestinian products---several people expressed this thought.

An amusing take on the whole affair is from Jon Stewart: "The Daily Show" de John Stewart:

Thanks to Robert Poort.

While I've been a member of the coop for almost 16 years I knew very few people by name: I saw my friend Nancy S. first on line, when I arrived. Jeff Prant showed up and there was David Simonoff. Jeff Prant was interviewed by the New York Times for the Wednesday paper (following the vote)--that's how I know his position may be similar to mine.

The comments at The Nations article are worth browsing. I contributed and was "mentioned" in the article.

One of my biggest concerns in the Middle East is the marginal freedom of speech and access to political power for women. While the United States has about 17% female participation in Congress one Arab country has surpassed that number: Tunisia, with about 27 %.

Three female arabs have been members of the Israeli Knesset in recent decades.

Iraq's 25% quota also leaves something to be desired, but I will follow this relatively recent development: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/world/middleeast/13baghdad.html

More recent information from the International Parliamentary Union:
Israel is in the 63rd rank world-wide with 24 female members of Knesset equalling 20% female participation in this parliament. Jordan has al 10 percent QUOTA for women and that is the reality in Jordan (13 out of 120 lower house seats going to women).
63Israel2 20091202420.0%

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