Research your boycotts, lemmings

From Facebook:

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts I you’re in the neighborhood and popping into Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center then be sure to bring a reusable bag, so you can donate $.10 to Lincoln Center. The promotion is running through January, so show you’re support. Learn more here http://www.facebook.com/wholefoodsnyc

The sole response was a comment from a woman: “Whole Foods boycots Israeli products so I will never shop there.”

No support, no explanation, just a broad statement about the company’s policy. Which didn’t pass my smell test. So, off to Google, using the search terms “Whole Foods boycott Israeli products”. Unsurprisingly, I found a lot more posts about people who should boycott Whole Foods because its stores DO carry Israeli products, rather than that the company boycotts the whole country’s exports.  So that doesn’t work with this woman’s comment.

I did find one long rant from an archconservative American Jewish pundit, Debbie Schlussel, who goes on a tear because of ONE product, an olive oil. http://www.debbieschlussel.com/7484/why-i-cheer-the-whole-foods-boycott-poetic-justice-for-pan-terrorist-israel-hating-retailer/

Even in her own comments field, some of her readers are like, “um, actually I see Israeli products, including olive oil at my WF”. Basically, I think this woman is a frothing rabble-rouser and am loathe to give her a link, but hey, *I* think supported statements are good.

So that’s what I told the lady on the LC page:

Can’t believe I’m responding to this, but when I see a broad unsupported statement like this, it’s hard to ignore. … maybe you should do your own research instead of letting pundits (like Debbie Schlussel, perhaps?) do it for you — and possibly misinform you.

WF sells thousands of products, each with its own story. Some things from the Middle East might support Jewish/Israeli/Western interests, others the Muslim/Palestinian/Arabic interests. If you’re going to “vote with your dollars” and promote a message, maybe you should be more specific and accurate. If you protest a specific product, fine, but know what you’re talking about. Is your issue the olive oil? The couscous? The gelt? What? Generalizations hurt your own cause.

Like a lot of large companies, WF has numerous detractors, many of whom are at odds with each other. This is a good example, in that some people actually boycott WF because it DOES sell Israeli products.  Pro-Israel AJC actually has organized shopping trips there recently expressly to support the company, in opposition to those who boycott it because they are pro-Palestinian and don’t want WF to carry any Israeli products.  http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20101201/pl_usnw/DC10172

So WF prohibits Israeli products or supports Israeli products? Which is it, because clearly these two premises can’t be true at the same time, can they? Yet groups are calling for boycotts for each reason.

I’m not interested in making a fight, I’m just saying that throwing an supported and inaccurate statement out there — especially in this context — is harmful to this easy little LC campaign at worst and certainly unhelpful at best. I am personally of mixed feelings on the Israel situation, but I love WF and will be happy to donate any of my extra dimes to Lincoln Center. 🙂

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About amywinns

Semi-snarky, semi-sincere, occasionally ranting, always paying attention. Feminist who can work a skirt and crack a joke. Grammar nerd who is also fun at parties. Mid-career writer/editor with 15 years’ experience in newspapers & magazines who now helps developers at a major media corporation communicate with the suits who write the checks. Pro-women, pro-family, pro-choice, pro-workingclass, pro-entrepreneur, pro-farmer. Like every other bourgeois Brooklynite, I choose local/organic/raw food — mostly vegetables — whenever possible/reasonable/affordable but I’m not a smug asshole about it. Hometown: Atlanta. Weird hobby: lindy hop. No pets, no kids, no thanks.
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