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:
AMERICAN JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE
BAY AREA INTERNATIONAL JEWISH ANTI-ZIONIST NETWORK
INTERFAITH WITNESS FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE
QUEERS UNDERMINING ISRAELI TERRORISM (QUIT!)
THE OREGON CAMPAIGN TO END ISRAELI APARTHEID
US CAMPAIGN FOR THE ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF 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 Jewlicious.com, 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)