Show Trader Joe’s Some Love June 19th!

Pass The Couscous
By Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

Thankfully, Trader Joe’s won’t boycott Israel. But they are being targeted this weekend by anti-Israel activists around the country who get their knickers in a twist because they love shopping there and get upset when they see Israel on anything. These racists are trying to get Israeli products out of TJ’s. It is the most hypocritical campaign in the history of campaigns.

Here are some of the 30 groups that urged TJ’s to boycott Israel:


The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement is an tactic from the anti-apartheid effort now adopted by the anti-Israel groups in the US and Europe. Of course, it completely ignores the actual fact, which is that Arabs in the State of Israel have citizenship and full and equal political and civil rights.

Periodically, this effort targets stores selling Israeli products, in an effort to persuade them to stop stocking them. This time, they have focused their efforts on Trader Joe’s. The good news is that Trader Joe’s isn’t buying the garbage being peddled by the anti-Israel groups, but will continue to buy (and sell) the Israeli products that they have provided for years. (Disclaimer: I just love shopping at Trader Joe’s. It’s the only store I know of around here where I can–and do– buy Osem couscous, Eden feta, or the Dorot frozen cubes of garlic, basil and cilantro.)

This letter was received by the Central Pacific office of the Anti-Defamation League from Jon Basalone, Senior VP, Marketing, Trader Joe’s:

“We have received a few letters like this via our customer relations email as well. Our response is that we sell products, and do not use our products as political tools or to make any statements about any political causes. We have no intention of removing any products based on pressure from any group, no matter what they support or don’t support. As always, we believe our customers are smart, and they are capable of making decisions about what they purchase. Let me know if you have any more questions or need more information.”

So the good news is that nobody has to contact Trader Joe’s to urge them to keep Israeli products in the stores. However, the anti-Israel groups behind the BDS effort have called for concerted action on June 20 (World Refugee Day) to “de-shelve” Israeli products from Trader Joe’s. Somehow, the Arab regimes that have kept their Arab brethren locked in refugee camps for 60 years avoid any responsibility for this. I don’t see Lebanese, Egyptian or Jordanian products being targeted.

Now, I only know of three ways to “de-shelve” a product– you get the store to pull it off the shelf, you buy it, or you steal/vandalize it. Given that the first has already proven a failure, and I don’t think they plan to BUY a whole bunch of couscous. That leaves stealing and vandalizing.

So, go to your local Trader Joe’s and do three things on June 20th (or, if you are shomer Shabbat, on June 19th):

1. Buy a whole bunch of Israeli products. If they are off the shelf– maybe someone else read this and bought the entire stock–-go to the store manager and tell him/her they need to buy more!

2. Tell the store manager to keep stocking these products because you really like them!

3. Also tell the store manager that anti-Israel groups have declared June 20th as a “National Day to De-Shelve Israeli Products” so they can be aware of potential efforts to shoplift, deface or otherwise vandalize these products.

And please pass the couscous.

A dynamic teacher and community activist, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein achieved international recognition as Director of The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland from 1998-2001. Rabbi Yonah has organized programs for Jewish students and young adults in ten countries. He is a former Fulbright Fellow, and completed a Masters degree in Polish-Jewish Studies at Oxford University and rabbinical studies at Ohr Somayach Yeshiva. He is the newly appointed director of JConnect LA, the executive director and co-founder of Jewlicious, and has most recently served as the rabbi for Jewish Student Services at Long Beach Hillel. This piece first appeared at, where he frequently blogs.

Hat tip to StandWithUs for promoting this issue.

“Just as the Temple was destroyed through baseless hatred, it will only be rebuilt through baseless love.” Rabbi Kook (1864-1935)

About tolerantamerica

On her recent tour for her book, Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe, Lisa was inspired by the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African-American elected president of the United States, to encourage cross-cultural dialogue about multiculturalism in America. To increase tolerance and understanding across communities, Lisa launched "A More Tolerant America" to feature guest bloggers, authors, activists, artists and other writers, who, like her, are multicultural. Klug's father is a German-Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland and the descendant of a Spanish Jewish family that escaped the Spanish Inquisition. During her tour, Lisa encountered ignorance and bigotry toward Jewish Americans. As part of her campaign, this blog will giveaway books and other materials that promote cross-cultural dialogue.
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3 Responses to Show Trader Joe’s Some Love June 19th!

  1. Jon says:

    BlueTruth has some terrific information on the boycott supposedly scheduled for tomorrow (we’ll see if anyone shows up). In the meantime, I’ve posted a backgrounder on the latest goings on in the world of boycott, divestment and sanctions at my anti-divestment blog

    The latest entry includes some delicious sounding couscous recipes (courtesy of my mom) for anyone planning to take Rabbi Bookstein’s advice and clean out Trader Joe’s supply before the sun goes down tonight.



  2. Wyman Brent says:

    I am absolutely sickened by the fact that so many are again stirring up blatant anti-Semitism. They claim to support Palestinians which is all well and good in and of itself. However, remember that Palestinians were the ones who originally rejected peace in 1948. They were also the ones who have cooperated fully in every war against Israel. These days they attack with suicide bombers and rain down thousands of rockets all on innocent people.

    Perhaps someone can tell me why the other Arab countries do virtually nothing to support their brethren? It seems the main support they receive from other Muslim nations is not offers of land in much larger countries, rather they receive rockets to continue the terror campaign. Why can’t they pour out money instead to help Palestinians? Look at the nations which gave most to Indonesia which is a Muslim country after the most recent disaster there. Was it the Muslim countries? Think again. The non-Muslims were the leaders.

    As for the wall which Israel has placed to keep out terrorists, I can’t believe that people have the nerve to complain. People sitting safe in the USA or some European country would be the first to clamour for whatever measures of protection avaibable if suddenly their neighbours of whichever country started sending in suicide bombers. However, it is okay that Muslims kill Jews with impunity?

    Muslims like many Christians before them blame all their ills on Jews. Think about this for a minute? An extremely tiny number of people are somehow the cause of all the woes of over a billion Muslims? Perhaps it is just that the failed leadership and dictators of so many Muslim countries just need a distraction to keep their citizens from looking at the real issues. Perhaps less corruption and more real governance would make life better for Muslims.

    Why do people not call for boycotts of products from Muslim countries? Is it not Iran that has been daily screaming even now for death to the UK and US and Israel? Was it not Saudi Arabia which provided the majority of terrorists which blew up the towers in New York? Osama bin Laden is a Muslim terrorist. He wants to kill Christian and Jew alike.

    I am most sickened by those who try and link Israel with nazi policies. If the Israelis are so much like the nazis, how is that not only are there not vastly less numbers of Palestinians since 1948 but large numbers more. I would say that the Israelis are doing an incredibly sloppy job if there intent is ethnic cleansing as has been charged against them. I would love to hand out some reality checks to people but people prefer kneejerk reactions without looking at the facts. Wake up people and smell the truth.

  3. F says:

    They posted this video of their damaging trader joe’s products online at youtube.

    i am embarrassed that t joes did not stop them or even do anything, when these people were not just state an opinion but sabotaged Trader Joe’s property. what in the world? Although if they’d called the police like they promised in the beginning, they may have just brought more attention to the group’s efforts.

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