Israeli legal rights group Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center sent a letter this morning to the Park Slope Food Co-op (PSFC) President William Penner and General Manager Joseph Holtz warning them not to implement a boycott of Israeli manufacturers, products or services.
The PSFC, located in Brooklyn recently debated a resolution to discontinue the sale of Israeli products including those manufactured by the SodaStream Company.
The boycott resolution was promoted by members of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement which seeks to delegitimize the Jewish State internationally as a means of supporting the Palestinians in their war against Israel.
The meeting of the food coop turned violent as pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian factions clashed over the boycott resolution. The resolution has not yet been brought to a final vote.
The Shurat HaDin letter warns the PSFC that "the BDS movement’s efforts are unlawful racial discrimination on the basis of national origin and/or race, creed and religion under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“Anti-Racism Convention”) and numerous U.S. state and federal statutes."
The letter sets forth the relevant sections of the federal and state laws that could be violated should the PSFC undertake any efforts to boycott Israeli manufacturers, companies, products or services.
The letter, signed by attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv, states that "a boycott is not protected by the freedom-of-speech language of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because a boycott is not speech, it is action."
It warns the PSFC officials of potential criminal and civil liability for the organization and its leadership should a boycott of Israeli goods be enacted. It also notes that the Washington State Supreme Court has just reinstated, last week, a lawsuit against the Olympia Food Coop over a similar boycott policy against Israeli products.
Shurat HaDin has been involved in legally countering numerous efforts by the BDS movement and Palestinian extremist groups to delegitimize the Jewish State including helping to block the Gaza Flotilla, challenging divestment resolutions at investment funds and taking legal action against those who implement anti-Israel campaigns.
“The Park Slope Food Co-op has to understand that we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit against them the minute they implement any anti-Israel boycott,” says Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan- Leitner. “Boycotts are not protected speech and they are actionable in NY under both criminal and civil law as illegal discrimination. The BDS movement, which spreads racist lies and promotes violence is inherently biased and prejudicial and has an extremist agenda that unfairly singles out Israel and Jews. The PSFC should understand those promoting BDS' policies seek solely the destruction of the State of Israel and its Jewish community. The PSFC and its leaders would be wise to consider the severe economic harm its going face if it illegally acts to discriminate against Israeli companies or product."
Shurat HaDin has proven civil cases can be used to great effect against terrorist organizations, such as when it won a groundbreaking $218 million suit against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in February for their terror activities in the Second Intifada.