A proposed boycott of products at a food co-op in Port Townsend has prompted a visit from Gideon Lustig, Israel’s Deputy Consul-General for the Pacific Northwest, at the request of an Israel advocacy group which opposes the boycott of Israeli products.
Speaking at a public town hall meeting Sunday night, Mr. Lustig declared his intent to have private meetings with co-op board members. He also intended to meet with Port Townsend’s city manager, who is not in a formal position to influence the boycott process. It is not clear what that meeting would be about.
Mr. Lustig held a private meeting today with Ms. Sam Gibboney, the Food Co-op board president. The meeting was closed to co-op members and to the public, but Ms. Gibboney acknowledged that the subject of the meeting was the boycott. It is not certain whether additional meetings were held, and whether subjects other than the boycott were discussed.
Ms. Gibboney had initially invited board members to attend a joint closed-door meeting with the Consul-General, but had to cancel that plan in response to protests by co-op member-owners, who pointed out that the co-op bylaws did not allow for a closed executive session of the board under these circumstances.
While the boycott initiative has generated a great deal of community discussion, Ms. Gibboney has not had similar meetings with boycott proponents. She also has not attended any of the information events organized by the member-owners who had presented the proposal to the board in July.
The boycott proposal asks that the store pull Israeli products from its shelves until Israel complies with U.N. decisions regarding the occupied territories, lifts the siege on Gaza, ends its hafrada (apartheid) policies against Palestinians, and recognizes the refugees’ right of return.
Dena Shunra, one of the member-owners, said, “I’m troubled that board members of our own food co-op would hold closed meetings on a subject that has aroused so much interest within our community. We need to shed more light on this issue rather than open our co-op up to allegations of back-room deals.”
Another boycott proponent, Jim Watson of Brinnon, said, “We believe that these meetings with the consul-general should not occur. It would be in violation of board policy.”
The board is scheduled to decide on the boycott proposal in a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 21st. The board has invited co-op member-owners to attend and make short comments before the board discuses and votes on the proposal.
The board meeting will take place at 6 pm at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave., in Port Townsend.
For more information, please visit http://jeffcowabds.wordpress.com, or contact Daniel Bugel-Shunra via phone: (360) 379-2506, or e-mail: email@example.com