Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fight the BDS Movement--Shop at Trader Joe's on June 20!

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 3 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 20 (or, if you are shomer Shabbat, on June 19):

1. Buy a whole bunch of Israeli products (if they are off the shelf, maybe someone else read this and bought the entire stock-- so 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 20 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.


  1. have you seen this?


    Filed under Israel, Boycott on 6/7/2009.

    We have just read a copy of the letter that you are about to receive from the South Bay Mobilization group, which encourages you to isolate Israel and punish it for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

    Unfortunately, you are the new target of anti-Israel activist groups, who continue a propaganda campaign against Israel and distort facts to persuade merchants and others to boycott Israel. Such policies echo those that Arab countries have had since well before Israel's rebirth in 1948, and they also encourage and strengthen extremists who continue to undermine the peace process.

    We note that the letter is a one-sided and self-serving view of the conflict. For example, there is nothing that describes the relentless terrorism coming from the variety of radical Palestinian groups surrounding Israel, including Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah, and fundamentalist groups like Islamic Jihad. We notice that their letter does not refer to Hamas, whose founding document calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel and which has caused the major problems for those who dream of peace in the region.

    Also not mentioned in the letter, is the fact that Israel is only the size of New Jersey, and the terrorist groups surround it and continue to launch rockets from Gaza into Israel while calling for the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people (check their founding documents, you can find them online).

    What is mentioned in their letter is historically inaccurate, including issues about "stealing Palestinian land" and the building of the "segregation wall." It’s important to note that Jews have been in the region for over 3,000 years – all the archeology points to this fact – and the Palestinian Arabs never had a country in the region. While there are Palestinians who dream of peace and a better life for their children, the Palestinian leadership has never agreed to compromises that would have created two states, and they have tried to destroy Israel instead. Simply put, any negotiations that Israel has with the Palestinians will result in the creation of a new Palestinian/Arab state, not a reconstitution of a former entity. It is also important to note that the "segregation wall" is simply a security fence, which was built in response to the campaign of suicide bombings and terrorism launched by Palestinian leadership in 2000. The fence has helped reduce suicide bombings by almost 100 percent.

    While Israel certainly is not perfect, no amount of propaganda can convince well-informed people that Israel is arbitrarily attacking its neighbors for sport.

    We have always loved shopping at Trader Joes because you clearly have not allowed yourselves to be censored by political prejudice but rather offer an array of products that reflect the various tastes of your patrons. We salute you for standing clear of political pressure and maintaining your integrity and neutrality.

    Thank you,

    The Board and Staff of StandWithUs

  2. Oh, how charming. They even have their own facebook page. You'll forgive me please if I don't link to it.

    "Don't Buy Into Apartheid!"


    We know stores in your area are carrying Israeli products. We are here to support you to ask these stores not to carry Israeli products. If they will not deshelve Israeli products, and voluntarily cleanse their shelves of products that support occupation and apartheid, we are here to provide resources for you to create disencentives for stores to stock Israeli products. If you do so, you will be part of a growing international movement that has demanded that their local stores stop carrying products made in Israel, in campaigns that are raging from Ireland and Wales to France and Pittsburgh, PA U.S.A. and beyond...

    We are planning a kick-off action: Saturday, June 20th--World Refugee Day. We invite you to organize in your community and deshelve, sticker, boycott, and protest the presence of Israeli products until Israel complies with international law and human rights standards!

    And its organized by the Bay area's very own Kate Raphael.

  3. "Now, I only know of 3 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."

    Well, we all know that stealing is illegal. Did you know that vandalizing food products is also illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison?

    10/16/2002--Passed Senate amended.
    Product Packaging Protection Act of 2002 - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit intentionally tampering with a consumer product that is sold in interstate or foreign commerce by knowingly placing or inserting any writing in the product or in its container before its sale to any consumer without the consent of the product manufacturer, retailer, or distributor. Defines "writing" as any form of representation or communication, including graphic or pictorial representations.
    Subjects violators to a fine and imprisonment of up to one year, or up to three years for a second or subsequent violation.


    Someone should let Kate know. Her blog is
    http://democracy-sometime.blogspot dot com

    She doesn't mention her latest hobby on her blog- perhaps she already knows its against the law?

  4. In Toronto there was a call to boycott Israeli wines. These are sold in the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). The end result was a sell ouy of Israeli wines in short order

    The store in North Toronto was pickited by the usual noodnicks, but they gave up very soon. There was news coverage and the protests backfired of these pests.

    So go for it. I would join you, but there are no Trader Joe's here in Ottawa, so how about one. They sound interesting.

  5. From their facebook page:
    How to vandalize Israeli Products

    There are many ways to participate in deshelving Israeli products. Each
    group and individual should decide for yourselves what makes sense for you.

    Possible actions include (& can be used in combination):

    1. Leafleting outside stores (a downloadable leaflet will be posted here
    very soon), with lists of the Israeli products carried by the establishment
    you're targeting
    2. Giving consumers a coupon to present to the cashier when they check
    out, asking the store to stop carrying Israeli products
    3. Putting "Don't Buy Into Apartheid" stickers on the products and
    leaving them on the shelves (see exemplary photos)
    4. Removing products from shelves and piling them in the front of the
    5. Removing products from shelves and leaving them in hard-to-find places
    in the store
    6. Removing products from the store and dumping them in the street
    7. Damaging products in some way (e.g., pouring fake blood or ketchup on
    them) so they cannot be reshelved
    8. Singing, guerrilla theater or speechifying inside or outside of the
    store (see exemplary video)
    9. Protesting/picketing/bannering outside the store
    Most actions will have multiple components and options for people who don't
    want to risk arrest, along with more confrontational options.

    Leafleting is an important component of any action, because we are trying to
    build awareness of Israeli apartheid and human rights abuses and the BDS
    campaign. We are working on a sample leaflet which will be downloadable
    here very soon.

    Actions will have different legal consequences depending on what they are
    and the situation in your community. We recommend contacting your local
    National Lawyers' Guild chapter if there is one, or other progressive
    lawyers for advice before you take action.

    Send us your plans!! Let us know if we can help!!

  6. So I know what to buy: What Israeli products Trader Joe's sell?

  7. here's what I have usually found on the shelves:

    Dorot frozen cubes of garlic, cilantro and basil (in the frozen foods section)--Kibbutz Dorot is located near Sderot so purchasing this helps the economy in that area.

    Gates of Eden feta cheese

    Osem Israeli couscous (I think they also have Israeli felafel mix by Telma)

    Matzo from Israel in the runup to Pesach.

    I haven't checked the wine section for Israeli wines-- if they don't have them, leave a suggestion asking for specific wines (don't just ask for "Israeli wines")--some good labels are Golan Heights Winery, Carmel Mizrachi and Barkan

  8. I notice the individual selling hate always signs their posts "Anonymous."

    Hiding their identity out of shame?

    It is reminiscent of another Group that peddles hate anonymously, the bedsheet wearing Klu Klux Klan. Well a hate group is a hate group.

    My moshav was part of AgriPac and no one, not even Arab countries had a problem buying our flowers or produce. Our Dan Ben Chana grapes were a big hit.

    Moshav Ma'agan Michial still makes and sells irrigation equipment to Saudi Arabia and has since the 1970's.

    Seems the only ones not buying Israeli products are these people with minds to small to hold these ideas.

  9. The idea is excellent; the timing lousy.

    Instead or writing "So, go to your local Trader Joe's and do three things on June 20 (or, if you are shomer Shabbat, on June 19)."

    He should have written "So, go to your local Trader Joe's and do three things on June 19."

    Otherwise you have a situation described as a "mitzvah haba be`averia.

  10. I’ve reported in the past how divest-from-Israel advocates have been attempting to import some of the excesses of their European equivalents into the US, including both an academic boycott movement and campus building takeovers started in the UK. The fact that both imports have flopped has not seemed to discourage boycotters from bringing to our shores a tactic even more likely to turn the public against their cause: attacking the shelves and assaulting customers at Trader Joes.

    This all began in France where a gang of Palestinian supporters took it upon themselves to enter a French supermarket where they pulled Israeli goods off the shelves in protest of the quality of couscous (whoops! I mean as a glorious and courageous “raid” into the very heart of enemy territory). This trespass and destruction of property was apparently not punished, possibly giving US-based BDS-niks the idea that they could pull off the same stunt with impunity (ignoring the fact that the French supermarket in question was in a neighborhood that had seen violent clashes between armed gangs and the police, which might have made supermarket managers a little gun shy).

    Given that the threat of local armed violence over the Arab-Israeli dispute is not yet a feature of US retail (yet), the divestment crew chose to start by sending Trader Joe’s a form letter (versions of which seem to be cropping up around the divestment community lately) asking them to live up to their lofty corporate principles by refusing to sell Israeli products (including the aforementioned couscous). Ironically, the incident allowed the funky food retailer to actually live up to its principles by telling boycott advocates (and here I paraphrase) to go fuck themselves.

    Read more....


  11. Laser-
    Re: mitzvah haba be`averia.

    The anti-Israel forces deliberately plan these activities on Shabbat to limit participation by the Jewish community.

    Not all supporters of Israel are Jewish.
    And not all Jewish supporters of Israel are shomer Shabbat. Yet.

    But you know that already.

  12. Maybe someone should tell them that the computers they use to blog, the servers they host their sites on, and the networks that people use to access them all have been touched by an Israeli product or invention

  13. Abbas and the rest of the Arabs are demanding that Jews be uprooted from Judea and Samaria the way they were from Gaza or else there will be no peace. They are demanding apartheid for peace. We should start a divestment movement against Arab countries

  14. thanks for your site. you refer people to a short history of the israel-arab conflict. may i suggest there are better sources. the one you have says nothing about the roman conquest and renaming 'palestina' in order to erase jewish identity (judea) from the land.
    also, by repeatedly using 'palestine' and using their 'flag' on the page it legitimizes the false, illegitimate claims of the fakestinians.
    i urge people to use the term fakestinians (google: israpundit hadrian's curse) because they are lying.
    of course, 'from time immemorial' by joan peters is a classic source. as well as 'israel, echo of eternity' by heschel.

  15. Since we're all likely to end up with more Israeli couscous than we may have planned after this weekend, I'm going to start posting some of my favorite recipes over at www.divestthis.com and everyone is free to share their faves in the comment section.

    I happen to like simple: Grilled vegetables (zucchini, squash, asparagus and portabella mushrooms) cut up after cooled, mixed with cooked Israeli couscous, doused with Brianna's French vinaigrette and served warm or cool (not hot). Good as a side dish, or even a main meal on a hot day (especially when served with a kosher Israeli white (preferably from the Golan).

  16. This whole thing and all of the misinformation that is being spewed by these hateful groups makes me so sad, but Jon, you have brightened my day with your recipe exchange idea.
    I will be sure to visit your site to take part soon.

  17. I can share yet another recipe with couscous. It is easier, for those who cannot spend much time on the kitchen. You need rice-cooker for that. Put in the rice-cooker bowl 1 cup of couscous, cut vegetables like green beans, bell pepper, broccoli, cut mushrooms, seasalt (from Israel), and two tablespoons of Alfredo Mushroom souse. Amount of vegetables to your liking. I like more of it. Add water, about two-three cups, and you can add, if needed. And just turn on the cooker. In less than half an hour you get a delicious entri. And very healthy one. No fat, lots of minerals and fibers. Add to it sweet wine from Israel (forgot the name, you just ask for kosher wine from Israel, it cost $2.99) Enjoy!

  18. Best Line of the day goes to jeff Goldberg of the Atlantic:

    "I hear the Israeli couscous goes well with grilled scapegoat, by the way."


  19. Once again, my mom has come to our rescue! This fine cook provided me with two very intriguing couscous recipes (one savory, one sweet) which you can find at www.divestthis.com.

    Drop your own recipes that include any Trader Joe's Israeli ingredient in the Blue Truth or Divest This comments section and I'll do a roundup on Monday.

  20. Better = PLEASE tell me what is the list of ISRAELI products so that I know what to ask for? I have only found ‘pastures of eden’ so far at trader joes…

  21. anon--please see my June 11 comment above for the list

  22. Well, the "Day of Rage" against Trader Joes Israeli couscous has come and gone, and it appears again that the BDS folk have given a tremendous boast to Traders Joes and to the Israeli economy!

    This action originated in Northern california- and by Saturday afternoon, nearly all Bay Area Trader Joes were sold out- yes, SOLD OUT- of their Israeli products.

    Rumor has it a half dozen protesters made the rounds of Oakland Trader Joes looking for something, anything to protest, to no avail.

    Thank you haters for the priceless publicity. Thank you Trader Joes for your principled stand, your excellent selection and your low low prices. And thank you consumers, for voting with your shopping carts!

    I declared victory in the great couscous war of 2009!!!!!

  23. "Otherwise you have a situation described as a "mitzvah haba be`averia."

    This would only apply to those Jews who strictly observe the Sabbath above all else. There are Jews who are not so rigid with their thinking when it comes to unique situations such as this. Additionally, there are those of us who are pro-Israel but not Jewish.