An Inclusive Litany

12/6/02

A sign posted at the service counter of San Francisco's Rainbow Grocery Cooperative read: "Thank you for your concern. We currently do not have a storewide boycott on Israeli goods. After a lot of storewide discussion and debate, some departments have decided to continue to sell products from Israel and others have decided to not carry them any more in support of freedom for Palestinians and all people."

After a shopper realized that she couldn't buy Israeli gelt (chocolate coins) for Hanukkah, her husband distributed e-mail about the year-old policy, resulting in many phone complaints to the store. The Cooperative's public relations committee issued a statement removing any mention of Palestinians, while assuring shoppers that only two departments—package and bulk—had voted to boycott Israeli products and that they were not motivated by anti-Semitism. "The decision made by these departments does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Rainbow Grocery," the statement read. "Our workforce is an extremely varied group. We have a variety of opinions, and we don't always agree."

A subsequent statement posted on the store's website removed any reference to department-level boycotts, insisting there is "no boycott at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative against Israeli products. At no time did a boycott of Israeli products come up for a vote by the Membership." The statement expressed intolerance for "any workers... who support hatred, racism or any form of religious oppression in or outside of our workplace," while endorsing the Middle East peace process. "It is dialogue that ultimately will provide the avenue for resolution of the difficult and complex issues in the Middle East," the statement read. "Your feedback and commentary are important to us. We hope that the outpouring of intense communication in the past week can be a step in the process of peace, not a step towards the escalation of conflict."

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