100919

September 19, 2010

ISRAELI REPRESENTATIVE VISITS TO INFLUENCE LOCAL CO-OP BOARD DECISION

A proposed boycott of products at a food co-op in Port Townsend prompted a visit from the Israeli Deputy Consul-General for the Pacific Northwest.

Five member/owners of the Port Townsend Food Co-op presented a proposal to the co-op board of directors, asking the store to pull seven products from its shelves until Israel complies with U.N. decisions regarding occupied territories, lifts the siege on Gaza and ends apartheid on Palestinians. Proponents of the boycott have gathered hundreds of signatures in support of the proposal.

Gideon Lustig, the Israeli deputy consul-general, flew from San Francisco to travel to Port Townsend, Washington, a rural town with a population of 8,000, located near the Canadian border. Lustig spoke at a public presentation arranged by “Stand With Us”, a Seattle lobbying group. Lustig also attempted to hold a secret meeting with the Food Co-op board of directors.

Sam Gibboney, the co-op board president, had agreed to a secret meeting with the consul-general. The meeting was reported in a local newspaper, and prompted criticism for operating behind closed doors and violating co-op by-laws and governing policies. The board is required to hold open and transparent board meetings, unless there is a compelling reason for privacy. Gibboney has since revoked the invitation to other board members after public outcry. Gibboney will meet with the consul general in a private meeting before the consul-general returns to San Francisco. That meeting is closed to the public and co-op member-owners.

“We wish that Sam Gibboney had given the same courtesy to listen to the member-owners that she was elected to represent”, said Liz Rivera Goldstein, one of the proponents of the boycott. Recently, several educational events have been organized by both sides of the boycott issue. Gibboney has not attended any of the public forums. Only one food co-op board member has been seen at any of the recent forums and slide shows organized to educate the community about the issues of human rights violations and continued military action against civilian populations.

Tuesday, September 21, the Food Co-op board will hold a special meeting to vote on the boycott proposal. The board has invited co-op member/owners to attend and comment before the board discuses and votes upon the boycott proposal. The meeting takes place at 6 pm at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave., in Port Townsend.

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