Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Will this sort of protest at the Concordia New Seasons soon take place at the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop? Well, something close to it already did. On Sunday, Sacramento Coop Owners for Free Speech and Democracy sang for the benefit of the patrons entering the store:
Interestingly, as described in the YouTube video, New Seasons has added products from Israel and the occupied territories, and removed a photography exhibit about Bedouins and Palestinians there:
The decision of New Seasons to remove the photographs is evocative of the recent one by the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop to refuse to permit several Sacramento progressive organizations, including Veterans for Peace, to table in support of the Palestinians.
New Seasons cannot claim to be friendly and local while it continues to stock products made by Israel, a gross violator of international law, said Wael Elasady, member of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights and flashmob participant. There’s a glaring discrepancy between their ethical image and the products they profit from.
The now-burgeoning BDS Coalition, endorsed by groups such as Jews for Global Justice and the ILWU Local 5, has submitted a petition with over 500 signatures from New Seasons shoppers. The petition asks New Seasons to respect the boycott call issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and stop selling Israeli products until Israel complies with international humanitarian and human rights law. Additionally, hundreds of customers have submitted comment cards supporting the boycott.
New Seasons has been under recent scrutiny for its decision to remove photographs by Jewish artist Stephen Kerpen. Images of Palestinians and Bedouins from Kerpen’s recent trip to Israel and the West Bank were removed by New Seasons management just hours after being installed in the Seven Corners’ local artists gallery. Kerpen was told that the abrupt reversal came in response to the complaint of a single customer.
New Seasons immediately removed Stephen’s images after one complaint, yet refuses to address the hundreds of customers who have supported the boycott,” said Elasady. The store chose to stop selling Rockstar energy drink on ethical grounds, so the precedent for this type of action has been set. It’s time for New Seasons to live up to its image and respect the demands of hundreds of customers.