Washington State Court Ruling Opens Door to Suit Over Israel Boycott

Washington Supreme Court reverses a ruling that protected the Olympia Food Co-op from lawsuits over its boycott of Israeli products.

A pro-BDS student at an Open Hillel Conference.
Gili Getz

The Washington Supreme Court reversed a ruling that protected the Olympia Food Co-op from lawsuits over its boycott of Israeli products.

The ruling Thursday, reached through a vote of 9-0 justices, voids a 2012 ruling by the Thurston County Superior Court against five people who in 2011 sued the co-op over its policy on Israel.

The 2012 ruling not only dismissed the five plaintiffs’ claim, but also slapped them with a $230,000 bill for legal expenses and fines connected to state legislation designed to punish those found to have used litigation to intimidate political rivals.

The decision on Thursday opens to the plaintiffs the possibility of suing Olympia once more in a trial court and having their claims reviewed. It also means the plaintiffs do not need to pay the $230,000 bill.

The Olympia Food Co-op is the only commercial establishment in the United States officially to vote to boycott Israeli products, according to StandWithUs, an American pro-Israel group that funded the plaintiffs’ motion to have the supreme court review the county court’s 2012 ruling.

In their original lawsuit, the five plaintiffs accused the grocery store of unlawfully adopting the boycott measures in a process that violates its own bylaws.

StandWithUs called the ruling Thursday “a major setback to the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign.”