by Seth Mandel
“When we talk about hummus,” the Israeli academic Dafna Hirsch tells New York Magazine’s Matthew Shaer, “we talk on the material level and also the symbolic level. There is a mythology that completely surrounds hummus that doesn’t surround a lot of other foods. It’s a fascinating thing.”
Shaer was writing on the occasion of tonight’s vote-on-a-vote among the Park Slope faithful: whether the socially-conscious members of a popular Brooklyn food co-op should take another vote at a later date on whether to boycott Israeli products. Hirsch was not speaking specifically about this proposed boycott, but her comment about symbolism was appropriate: the food co-op isn’t exactly filled to the brim with products made in Israel. But the number of items isn’t the point. It’s the symbolic importance of expressing a chic hostility to the Jewish state. As Ruthie Blum put it in Israel Hayom last week:
The Jews of Park Slope are living very near to where their great-grandparents settled after getting off the boat at Ellis Island. However poor and dirty Brooklyn was in those days, it constituted freedom from an actual evil occupation – that of the Nazis. And however gentrified much of the New York City borough has become, many of its Jewish residents still care enough about the quality and price of their kosher food to join a food cooperative.
With a threat as great as Hitler’s annihilation machine looming large today, they should be ashamed of themselves for tolerating any assistance whatsoever to its enablers. In so doing, they are dishonoring their heritage and endangering their future.
Lest you think Blum is being unfairly unkind to the aimless allies of the destroy-Israel movement, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was even harsher:
“I think it has nothing to do with the food,” he said of the boycott. “The issue is there are people who want Israel to be torn apart and everybody to be massacred, and America is not going to let that happen.”
The New York Times notes, “The boycott would be largely symbolic, because the co-op carries only a half-dozen or so products imported from Israel, including paprika, olive pesto and vegan marshmallows.” It’s possible if you have not recently been to Brooklyn, that sentence may strike you as absurd. But that is the modern reality for the borough’s residents, living among self-styled problem-solvers apparently in desperate need of real problems to solve–like how to stop the infiltration of Israeli vegan marshmallows.
As you might expect, Bloomberg is not the only city official who understands the inanity of the vote:
Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, called the idea “ill conceived.” Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, said it was “madness.” Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, described the proposal as “an anti-Semitic crusade.”
Because there are a not-insignificant number of Israeli immigrants and their descendants in Brooklyn (close to 8,000 as of the 2000 census), and New York is famous for welcoming immigrants, one can imagine why these politicians aren’t crazy about the Park Slopers’ hostile “activism.”
New Yorkers are generally a quite proud people when it comes to their city. Let’s hope Bloomberg, Quinn and the others speak for many Brooklynites in their hopes that this shameful episode passes without bringing the city any more embarrassment.Seth Mandel
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