Dear Evergreen,

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is deeply troubled by the Olympia Food Co-op’s decision to boycott Israeli products. Additionally, we are disappointed that the co-op’s board chose to make this decision without a thoughtful and inclusive discussion with its members.

We have been in regular contact with key leaders in the Olympia Jewish community, including Rabbi Seth Goldstein of Temple Beth Hatfiloh, since this crisis became known to us on Tuesday. The Olympia Jewish community has begun to formulate its strategy for responding to this boycott. We will be working closely with Rabbi Goldstein to ensure that he has the support necessary to successfully address this boycott in his local community. Co-op members, Jews from Olympia and other concerned Olympia residents have chosen to picket the store. A petition is being circulated to urge the board to reconsider their position. Still others are preparing to express their concerns at a co-op members’ meeting on August 11. In Rabbi Goldstein’s “Weekly Words” letter to Temple Beth Hatfiloh members, he asks people concerned about the boycott to share their thoughts with him directly at If you have questions, ideas, or are willing to lend a helping hand, please communicate directly with Rabbi Goldstein.

Of course, what has happened in Olympia is only a small part of a growing number of BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions) initiatives. Not too long ago, the Seattle community faced a proposed boycott by Madison Market. Local co-op members and community members successfully defeated that proposal. Just a couple of days ago, the Port Townsend Co-op announced that it too would be considering a boycott of Israeli products. In the coming weeks we will be calling our community together for the purpose of developing a strategy to combat local boycotts which is strategic, effective, and addresses the uniqueness of each community.

Boycotts against Israel, such as this one, fail in their aim to help Palestinians by damaging Israel’s economy. Approximately 20% of Israel’s labor force is made up of Israeli Arabs as well as Palestinians living in the West Bank; they and their families suffer as a result of BDS initiatives. We believe that businesses that care genuinely about a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should support both Israelis and Palestinians—for example, by carrying Israeli products and donating a portion of the proceeds to organizations that promote peaceful relations between the two peoples. We believe that change is achieved not by divisive boycotts and divestments, but rather by education and peaceful dialogue.

We are concerned about the message that this boycott may send to other businesses. We ask you to do your part to help stop the spread of boycotts and divestments throughout our community. Here are some ways that you can help:

• Shop specifically at stores that stock Israeli products
• Go out of your way to thank the management, in person or in writing, for carrying Israeli products
• Ask friends and family members to purchase Israeli products in their communities, and to be sure to thank the management for carrying these product
• Purchase products from, which donates 100% of its net profits to Israeli charities
• Visit to invest in an Israeli business

Thank you for doing all you can to support Israel and its people.


Richard Fruchter
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle