Four Brooklyn Food Co-op Members Suspended for Disrupting Israel Boycott Presentation

New York's Park Slope Food Co-op voted against boycotting Israeli products in a heated and much publicized 2012 referendum. The four suspended members are planning to sue in response to the suspension.

The Park Slope Food Co-Op in Brooklyn, New York.
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A popular cooperative grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, which has been embroiled in efforts to boycott products from Israel over the past eight years, has suspended four of its pro-Israel members for a year.

The four Park Slope Food Co-op members were suspended for disrupting an April 2015 presentation by members who were calling for a boycott of SodaStream, an Israeli company that at the time had a factory in the West Bank.

The four were subjected to a disciplinary hearing in April and found guilty of uncooperative behavior.

The co-op voted against boycotting Israeli products in a heated and much publicized 2012 referendum,. Earlier this year, its members voted to require a supermajority of 75 percent for future boycott efforts.

The four suspended members, Alan Ettlinger, Rhudi Andreolli, Milldred Rutner and Sharon Eagle, are planning to sue the co-op, according to a report in The Forward.

Rutner called the hearing a “kangaroo court” and said that the four suspended members had already spoken to an attorney who had agreed to take the case. No legal papers have been filed.

Andreolli said that he also believes they were unfairly targeted by co-op members who support BDS when they were merely standing up against anti-Semitism.

“We stood up to these bullies and these lies and propaganda and we got shot down,” he said.

Ann Herpel, the co-op’s general coordinator, said that the suspended members will be welcome to rejoin once the year is over. “The process has been approved by the membership through our general meeting," she said. “I don’t think it’s my place to criticize [the outcome].”