Park Slope Food Co-op censors discussion of Israeli ‘pinkwashing’ (June 2012)

Park Slope Food Co-op censors discussion of Israeli ‘pinkwashing’

I was invited to speak at the Park Slope Food Co-op on Israeli ‘pinkwashing,’ but unfortunately, the powers that be cancelled the panel discussion. This is the letter to the Co-op members to be published in the Co-op newspaper. If you are a member, please write the Co-op to protest the outrageous act of censorship the Co-op engaged in in canceling the forum~!

“For the last 3.5 years, members of the Park Slope Food Co-op (PSFC) have
advocated that we join the international movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel because of that government’s occupation of Palestine and its violation of human rights. Members active with the BDS group have already presented 5 on-site educational events to inform Coop members about the realities in Israel/Palestine.

“Nearly a month ago, 2 members proposed an event about Israeli Pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is the term for Israel’s public relations campaign to depict Israel (especially Tel Aviv) as a haven for queer people. It diverts attention from the persecution of Palestinians by highlighting Israel’s progressive LGBT laws for Israeli Jews.

“The Coop Pinkwashing event organizers wanted their program to include exploring a local example of Pinkwashing at the NYC LGBT Center. In 2011, after a gay Zionist threatened to organize a donation boycott by private funders to the Center, its Board of Directors banned any Palestinian support group opposing Israel’s violation of international laws.

“Three weeks after the BDS group submitted the Pinkwashing program to the events coordinator of the coop, Joe Holtz & Ann Herpel (2 high-level Coop paid staff) objected to Pinkwashing event’s discussion of the Center’s ban. They decided that the event would violate a principle of cooperative conduct because it would criticize the Center. They explained that because the Center does “good and vital work” it cannot be criticized at the PSFC . The event organizers & other BDS Coop group members don’t accept this cancellation especially because of the undemocratic decision-making process used by PSFC staff.

“Also, we see this program cancellation as a further example of some of the PSFC paid staff’s attempts to derail the campaign for BDS at the Coop. That effort has been led by Joe Holtz. This cancellation is similar to the actions of other nonprofit organizations to suppress criticism of Israel’s apartheid policies.

“Most recently the NYC Educational Alliance – 14th Street YM-YWHA cancelled an educational program about BDS organized by the group Jewish Voice for Peace. We ask you to call the PSFC before June 9th 2012 and ask for either Ann Herpel or Joe Holtz. Let them know that you are angry about their decision to censor this Coop Pinkwashing event. Tell them you want Coop members to know about the intricacies of Israel’s persecution of Palestinians and how it that plays out here in the US.”

The Food Coop’s telephone number: 718-622-0560


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