Friday, August 1, 2008

Rainbow Grocery Declines Meeting with RBIG, Again

August 1, 2008
From: Rainbow Grocery Cooperative- Board of Directors
Re: Meeting request regarding boycott of Israeli Goods

We received your letter requesting a meeting to discuss a boycott of Israeli products dated May 28th. We would like to take the opportunity to clarify the Board of Directors role within the collective in general and in relation to our boycott policies specifically.

As you may be aware we are a worker-owned cooperative that does not operate in a traditional fashion. Decision making happens at Rainbow through the democratic efforts of our members rather than in a hierarchical “top-down” manner. The Board of Directors is not a body with the agency usually seen in a corporation. We are charged with the responsibility of overseeing the financial and legal aspects of our collective. Decision making on nearly all levels requires a collaborative effort by both the Board of Directors and the 230 worker-owners who comprise the Membership. Regardless of the desires of the Board of Directors, it is not a body that has the authority to institute any changes that would have a significant impact independently of our Membership.

Our boycott policies specifically limit the ability of any single body- including the Board of Directors, to institute any boycott or ban. The only responsibility that the Membership has charged the Board of Directors with is the publishing of a statement to the public related to any boycott decision. The Board of Directors cannot institute a boycott, supersede our boycott policies or begin the process of instituting a boycott without acquiring the necessary 20% of Membership to bring the issue to a vote. In short, it is only the Membership, and at that 2/3 of the entire Membership, that can affect a boycott for any reasons.

For these reasons, we respectfully decline your request to arrange a meeting with the Board of Directors of Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. The only manner in which an outside group such as yours can influence the cooperative to institute a boycott is to take the issue directly to the Membership via a worker-owner who will agree to be the sponsor of such an item and follow our boycott procedure. Any single worker can begin this process, but in the end it is only the 2/3 of Membership that can enact such a decision.

We hope that this helps clarify our boycott procedure generally and the Board of Directors’ responsibility specifically. If you have any other questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them.

Board of Directors- Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

People of Color Support Rainbow Grocery to Boycott Israeli Goods


Dear Rainbow Grocery

We are writing as shoppers at Rainbow Grocery who are people
of color. Some of us are in RBIG (Rainbow Boycott Israeli 
Goods) which as you know has been asking for a meeting with
the collective since mid 2006. We have taken up the boycott of 
Israeli goods because the issue of Zionism is first and foremost
a racial justice issue.

Some of us are fairly new to the Bay Area and some of us have
been Rainbow shoppers since the 1980’s. We shop at Rainbow 
because we are fighting for our lives in a racist (and sexist) 
system that relentlessly assaults our health and wellbeing. 
Rainbow is a very important resource for both knowledge of and 
access to healthy living food and other natural supports for 
disease prevention and cure. We also believe in and support 
the concept of collectives.

We also shop at Rainbow because we expect progressive 
organizations like Rainbow be responsive to community and 
to take a position and strong action for justice. As you know,
the Palestinians are being subjected by Israel to an apartheid
system where people with darker skins are humiliated and 
brutalized every day and treated in a savagely racist way. This 
is the 60th anniversary of the Nakba, when Israeli soldiers went 
from village to village massacring Palestinians young and old. 
Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing and seizure of lands from the
indigenous people are eerily reminiscent of the way Native 
Americans were treated in this country.

In the April 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, the role of the Bush
administration in deepening the suffering of Palestinian people, 
who are people of color, is presented in great and gory detail. 
“Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since 
corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay
bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by 
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National 
Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil 
war.” This article exposes how at the behest of the US 
government, Israel has unleashed an unimaginable level of 
violence aimed at expelling those Palestinians who can/will go,
and killing/maiming as many people as they dare of those who 

As individuals and organizations (including small businesses)
we must confront the question of what it means if we refuse to 
stand with people of color around the world and to protest our 
racist enemies’ closest friends abroad. As people of color we 
daily, must confront the question, what does it mean for our 
struggle against racism that Bush's closest ally is empowered
to do as they like with complete impunity by those of us who
consider ourselves to be anti-racist.

We are adding our voices to those calling immediately for a
meeting with Rainbow to discuss Rainbow’s boycotting Israeli


Nell Myhand 
Synthia Green
Shirley Yee
Faris Barhoum
Pablo Jim
Samia Shoman 
Jahahara Alkebulan Maat
Sharon Lungo
Chris Lymbertos
Lily Haskell
Adnan Hamwi
Sannah Rahim
Phil Hutchings
Jess Ghannam
Happy Hyder
Joyce Umamoto
Ayesha Gill
Chris Mazaleh
Nissor Ahmed
Ali Abong
Patricia Hemphill
Grace Shalhoub

RBIG renews request for meeting with Rainbow Grocery May 28, 2008

Wednesday May 28, 2008

Open Letter to Rainbow Workers:

RBIG is a group of workers and shoppers organized to
encourage Rainbow to boycott Israeli goods. After
Israel invaded Lebanon in July 2006, RBIG requested a
meeting with Rainbow about initiating such a policy.
We are renewing our request for a meeting for the
following reasons:

** The month of May is the 60th anniversary of the Nakba-
the zionist expulsion and ethnic cleansing of
Palestinians from their homeland.

** On April 24th the United Nations declared that Israel¹s
embargo of fuel has made it impossible to continue
its food aid program in Gaza, leaving 1-1/2 million
Palestinians without drinking water and food.

** RBIG now has over 700 Rainbow shoppers¹ signatures,
gathered at our weekly tabling, which petition the store
to boycott Israeli goods.

Enclosed is a letter, signed by workers and shoppers who are
people of color, expressing their strong objections to Israel¹s
racist policies and adding their voices to this request for a

Also enclosed are the five letters we sent Rainbow over the last
20 months stating our reasons for urging the store to consider
initiating such a boycott.

Nell Myhand (510)-485-6065
Jean Kuchinsky Pauline
Tom Brown


Monday, May 5, 2008

Union view on Voting Proceedure by Sam Weinstein

Letter from:
Sam Weinstein, Assistant to the National President, Utility Workers Union of America

I was quite surprised when I heard about the voting rules for boycotts at Rainbow. The requirement that you have to get a two thirds majority, not among those voting, but among those eligible to vote, seems to me incredibly restrictive, making it virtually impossible to ever achieve a high enough vote to create or join a boycott. I suspect it would have been difficult to achieve even in the case of South Africa under the apartheid regime. I have been a trade union official for the Utility Workers Union for more than 25 years and have never seen such voting restrictions in the context of trade unions.

When you analyze these voting requirements, you can see how they function to actually subvert democracy and the will of the majority, rather than protecting minorities on critical issues. In most elections in my experience it is unusual to have more than 70% of the eligible voters voting. That is because there are always some who don’t care or can’t make up their mind, or others who are unavailable, either because they are sick or on vacation or some similar reason. If even we were to raise that percentage to three quarters (75%), we find that at least 89% of those voting must vote in favor of the boycott for the resolution to pass. Thus barely 10% of the eligible voters, actually voting against the resolution, can frustrate the will of an overwhelming majority. Rainbow’s voting rule counting non-voters as no votes has little to do with ensuring that a decisive majority is in favor before a boycott is attempted.

National Labor Relations Board votes determining whether a union will win bargaining rights for 100% of the employees at a particular company only require a vote of 50% plus one of those voting, not of those eligible. If this bare majority wins, in most cases all employees will be required to pay union dues and can no longer cut personal deals. Like the Rainbow vote, this vote is usually conducted on site at the workplace.

When voting for a strike where 100% solidarity is a necessity in order to win the strike, the bylaws of many local unions do not even require a two thirds majority of those voting to call for the strike. I have never seen a strike vote that counted those who did not vote even though everybody understands that if the vote passes, you will be out on strike without a paycheck whether or not you bothered to vote and whether or not you voted for it.

I have only seen such voting requirements on rare occasions in the context of stock votes in corporations where I have had the pleasure of frustrating the will of management with a relatively tiny minority by adding the share votes of those I was campaigning with to the share votes of those who did not bother to return their proxies.

Response to Rainbow Board May 2007

Open letter to Rainbow Grocery Workers May 2007

The Board of Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco recently posted a letter on its website in response to an open letter to Rainbow which was signed by more than 50 Rainbow shoppers and circulated by R.BIG (RainbowBig We appreciate Rainbow’s response to the request in our letter that Rainbow Grocery reconsider a boycott of Israeli goods. We look forward to further discussion on this very important topic and begin here with our reaction to some of Rainbow’s statements in the letter. Concerning a boycott of Israeli goods, the Rainbow Board contends there is a ”policy” in place by which boycotts can be adopted by the store. Rainbow describes this policy as one where worker-owners would have the opportunity to engage in dialogue and that any decisions on a boycott are made in a democratic fashion.

We of RBIG find this mention of a democratic process interesting in light of what we have heard about Rainbow’s boycott implementation policy. We would like to know if the information we have about the current policy is correct. As we understand it, prior to the first attempt in 2003 by workers to start a boycott of Israeli goods, a simple majority poll of Rainbow workers was all that was required to start a boycott. We understand that was the procedure in place for all previous Rainbow boycotts (i.e., General Electric boycott, the farm workers’ grape boycott and the boycott of South African goods).

However, when talk of a boycott of Israeli goods began at Rainbow in 2003, a new procedure was put in place requiring a two-thirds majority to pass. Also, under this procedure, a non-vote’ is to be counted as a NO vote if workers do not show up to vote. The rather astonishing part about both these aspects of the procedure is that very rarely in the workplace world is a 67% majority required to pass on any action and the votes of non-attendees assumed to be negative. We enclose a letter from a trade unionist who commented on this procedure: "I have been a trade union official for the Utility Workers Union for more than 25 years and have never seen such voting restrictions in the context of trade unions”.

Rainbow Board’s letter also states, “When Rainbow discussed a boycott of Israeli products in 2003, it received a significant amount of attention from all sides of the issue -- most of it negative”. What does this mean? Does it mean that most of the attention was against the boycott, or does it mean that any attention to the issue of a boycott was negative or that any controversy on the issue of a boycott was negative?

As we perceived it, the reaction in the community in 2003 to the possibility of a Rainbow boycott was of an enormous outpouring of pro-boycott sentiment. And now, as there is renewed talk of a boycott of Israeli goods at Rainbow, we are hearing from a very large number of people who are pro-boycott. Their sentiments echo the growing movement of many organizations and individuals worldwide calling for sanctions of Israel; boycott of Israeli goods, Israeli sports, Israeli professors, etc.; and divestment from corporations that significantly support Israel. These organizations include the US Green Party, the National Lawyers Guild, Harvest Food Coop, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the National Union of Journalists in Britain, the US Presbyterian Church, the World Council of Churches, Stanford students, European Jews for a Just Peace and many more.

The apartheid nature of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people is being increasingly exposed and challenged by this movement which includes many Jewish people from all over the world. Rainbow has always been a community conscious organization and one that we assume would be willing to consider its customers’ input when the idea of a boycott is brought up. As loyal and long-time customers of Rainbow, we are hoping our initiative concerning boycotting Israeli goods will be the beginning of such input and debate between Rainbow shoppers and workers. That would truly represent a democratic process for everyone involved.

Signed by: RBIG

Thursday, April 24, 2008

50+ sign open letter to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

January 2, 2007

Open Letter to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

We shop at Rainbow because we believe in what it stands for - an independent worker-run coop which has refused to be beholden to corporate America and which came out of the movement of the ‘60s for good food, ecology, social justice and peace.

As members of the international community we are deeply moved by the plight of the Palestinians. Gaza is being called the largest concentration camp ever to exist, Palestinian children are being shot by the Israeli Defense Forces, people are starving and walled into ghettos by a 400-mile wall around them and by checkpoints and roadblocks. Israeli war crimes during the war against Lebanon shocked the world and brought international protest. We are calling for a boycott of Israeli goods as a way of voicing our objection to the US-Israeli backed wars of aggression in the Middle East and around the globe.

As regular shoppers at Rainbow, we have been asking the store to reconsider its position in support of a boycott of Israeli goods and are getting stonewalled. Some of us have asked for a list of Israeli products and been treated rudely. Some of us have written letters stating our support for a boycott but we have gotten no response. Many significant organizations around the world support a boycott of Israeli goods including Israeli Committee against Home Demolitions; Green Party of US; Congress of South African Trade Unions; the National Lawyers Guild; Canadian Union of Public Employees and more. Rainbow shoppers are asking for an open debate on this question. Why won’t Rainbow respond?

We have heard that when Rainbow discussed a boycott in 2003, the opposition threatened to poison the bulk bins. Is this what Rainbow is afraid of? That those anti-boycott forces will commit acts of terrorism against them if they boycott? Among us are Jewish people and we abhor such terror tactics reminiscent of the Zionist Irgun/Stern Gang in Israel which used violence, blackmail and extortion to get its way.

What is Rainbow’s commitment to the community? If such a threat occurred, why wasn’t it made public? Keeping something like this quiet would protect rather than expose those who made such a threat to life even in this country. Your customers have a right to know about threats to our safety. You have a responsibility to tell us.

Is Rainbow’s financial success from a small coop on Mission Street to a major Bay Area store affecting the decision to boycott, a fear that taking such an action might affect the store’s profits? If not, then what are the reasons? Are opposing groups pressuring you privately?

These are timely questions which deserve to be answered given the urgency to stop the genocide against Palestinian people by the brutal Israeli government with its partner Bush.

The world stopped the apartheid government of South Africa by boycotts and other actions. It’s time for all of us who support justice to oppose the Israeli government and join the international call for a boycott of Israeli goods. Which side will Rainbow be on?

Please contact Rainbow Grocery at 415.863.0620/ and RBIG at with comments.

Signed by:

Dolores Helman
E. A. Ooms
Esperanza Derian
Gene Herman
George Williams
Janice Rothstein
Jean Pauline
Bob Ness
Charlie Hinton
David DeNeef
Kerry McCabe
Lou Gold
Maggie Leigh
Nell Myhand
Paul Larudee
Rose Marie Castro
Sonia Siegal
Tom Brown
Lori Nairne
Gwyn Kirk
Corey Weinstein
Jeanette Cool
Rebecca Katz
Cynthia M. Chang, L.AC, OMD
Emily Katz Kishawi
Michael Lyon
Catherine Powell
Eyad Kishawi
Synthia Green
Ari Lev Fornari
Zulma Oliveras
Ivan Olson
Aaron Shuman
Barbara Lubin
Alexei Folger
Arla S. Ertz
Shirley Yee
Joyce Umamoto
Millie Barnet
Ken Umamoto
Wayne G. Miller
Allegra Alessandri Pfeifer
Jess Ghannam
Richard Pitt
Mary Ratcliff
Willie Ratcliff
Jeffrey Blankford
Mesha Monge-Irizarry
Donna Wallach
Dave Welsh
Dave Cutler
Paula Frances Soto
Dorinda Moreno, Elders of 4 colors 4 directions
Lenore Sheradon
Marie Labossiere
Pierre Labossiere
Carol Chandler
Pete Klosterman

An Open Letter to Our LGBT Sisters & Brothers at Rainbow Grocery

An Open Letter to Our LGBT Sisters & Brothers at Rainbow Grocery:

We are lesbian and gay people who shop at Rainbow Grocery. One reason we buy from the Rainbow worker-owned cooperative is your queer-friendly reputation and support for alternative lifestyles in general (as well as your selection of non-toxic, organic and healthy products). We are also regularly outside the store at a table with other shoppers talking to people about boycotting Israeli products.

At times, other gay people have seemed particularly disturbed by our presence and our dedication, as lesbians and gay men, to this particular cause, and we want to explain our position.
With regard to the Middle East conflict, the social and political pressures exerted on gays in America result in the issues being presented to us as something like “liberal” and “free” democracy (US and Israel) versus a “closed” religion-based, and overtly anti-gay culture (Iran, Iraq and other primarily Islamic countries). We feel that an intensive propaganda campaign exists, supported by a primarily right-wing Israeli lobby, including Christian fundamentalists, as well as others, Jews and non-Jews, some of whom see themselves as liberal and advocating peace. In media outlets ranging from national gay magazines (like the Advocate) to billboards at transit stops, gays are implored to appreciate how their rights are protected in the state of Israel, how gays are accepted in the Israeli military, as well as to consider spending “gay” dollars at Israeli resorts. From time to time we see news articles describing how Israel gives shelter and support to Palestinian gay people who want to escape.

We do not suggest it would be easy or even possible to live as an out gay person in a primarily Islamic country, as some can in places like the United States, Europe or Israel. However, contrary to propaganda geared toward American gays, the facts make it clear that, just like in many parts of the US, Israel is nothing like a land of complete tolerance or acceptance of queer or transgender lifestyles (anti-gay protests, aborted gay marches, etc., in Israel).

US media coverage of Israel is not unlike the coverage for the US invasion of Iraq, where Americans are provided with pictures of smiling generals, heavily positioned and edited sound bites, and an occasional human-interest story about saving the life of one child when thousands more are killed. A recent study showed that the death of an Israeli child was 20 times more likely to be covered by the San Francisco Chronicle than the death of a Palestinian child. Ongoing racist anti-Arab hate mongering in the US media has often cited issues of basic rights of women and gays, while the actions of the US and other western powers have ultimately done little or nothing to improve the position of either group in Islamic countries.

In addition, pro-Israel and pro-western media reporting and other propaganda disguise the fact that there is a full-scale war going on against Palestinian people, with no exception made for LGBT Palestinians (as documented by Aswat, a Palestinian Gay Women’s group). At the hands of the Israeli military and sometimes heavily-armed residents of the illegal settlements, Palestinian people are being subjected to loss of housing, regular denial of movement to and from work, school, medical care, etc., denial of water, electricity, and physical harassment, up to and including torture and killing.

As lesbians and gay men we are aware of the sometimes keen divisions between those who would see gay rights as merely securing the freedom for personal advancement (money and resources) and those of us who advocate a more humane, caring, and socially and ecologically responsible way of life. We believe it is ultimately immoral and self defeating to reduce our “gay agenda” to single issues like gay marriage or other specific civil rights for gays and to pretend that war, occupation and environmental disaster are not gay issues and therefore not our problem. Moreover, we feel it is our duty to speak out when oppression is directly funded (as in the case of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory) by massive amounts of US taxpayer money.

Finally, we ask, do we want to endorse the message now being sent to the “other side,” to a culture seen as lacking in our western freedoms? Israel continues (against international law) to confiscate land in order to build illegal settlements, dispossessing more Palestinian families, making life ever more unlivable for others. Israel government policies include collective punishment (retaliation against families and even complete strangers for the crimes of individuals), and jailing Palestinians (approximately 10,000) without due legal process. Gaza “is the largest concentration camp ever to exist” (according to Baruch Kimmerling, in Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians, Verso Books 2003), while the west bank is carved up into tiny enclaves shut off from each other, Israel, and the outside world by barriers, Israeli-only roads and highways, hundreds of checkpoints which heavily restrict travel and movement, and now a great “separation barrier” that is currently under construction.

All these Israeli policies reinforce an endless cycle of violence and only guarantee further hardening of hearts against anything connected with so-called “democratic and humanistic western values”. Existence in occupied Palestine has been called similar to, but worse than, life in South African bantustans by those who lived it, under apartheid South African rule.
The lessons being taught in the middle east, by US, European and Israeli imperialism, are not tolerance and respect for humanity; they are the lessons of abusive subjugation, bullying, theft, war, murder and violent retaliation. To all this, we say, not in our name.

There are those who would try to silence us by mystifying the issue, saying that this an “ancient” and exceedingly complex conflict. However the historical facts tell us that for hundreds of years Jews and Islamic peoples lived in the area of Israel/Palestine in general peace and harmony. It was the advent of Zionism which changed all that.

In short, we believe absolutely no peoples are well-served by imperialism or Zionism, not Jews, Arabs, Christians, atheists, Americans, Israelis, not queers nor anybody else. We reject short-sighted single-issue politics and see our future happiness integrally and permanently tied to the concepts of respect, tolerance, fair sharing of land and resources, and universal equality of all peoples of all identities, cultures and beliefs.

As peace-loving lesbians and gays we call on all our sisters and brothers to oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine. We believe that now, as people have been considering this issue, there is increasing support for this kind of action among shoppers at Rainbow, both Jewish and non-Jewish, as part of a broader world-wide campaign for divestiture and boycott. We hope you will drop by our table in the near future or contact us for an invitation to one of our movie nights / informational meetings. Thanks!

David DeNeef, Lori Nairne, Nell Myhand, Cynthia Chang, David Vergi, Nancy Stoller, Lin White, Synthia Green, Rami Bushnaq, John Baker, Charlie Hinton, lesbian and queer supporters of Rainbow BIG

Open letter to the Jewish workers at Rainbow Grocery from some Jewish customers

Open letter to the Jewish workers at Rainbow Grocery from some Jewish customers

We are Jewish customers of Rainbow who shop there not only because we like the products but mostly because we have great respect for the concept of a worker cooperative. Many of us started shopping at Rainbow from the very beginning when it was a little store next to the Roxie on 16th Street. We are sending this letter to you because we believe the time is ripe for a Rainbow boycott of Israeli products.

The war against Lebanon showed the true nature of what the Israeli government represents and what its intentions are. It is time to spell out that, unfortunately, its policies are deeply connected with Bush’s murderous policies in the Middle East. The philosophy of the Israeli military leaders appears to be that “the only good Arab is a dead Arab.” We reject that mentality and hope that you do so as well.

As Jews we consider ourselves part of a long Jewish tradition of the struggle for social justice and concern for the safety and survival of Jews everywhere. Israeli policies which dehumanize others are antithetical to this proud tradition. We therefore deny any connection with those who claim to represent us while unquestioningly supporting Israeli policy which results in dehumanization of Palestinians and the destruction of their social order. Furthermore, we believe the militaristic perspective of those in charge in Israel has neither been good for the Jews of Israel nor for those in the diaspora.

We also reject Bush’s murderous policies in the Middle East. Does this make us ‘self-hating’ citizens? We care about the U.S. soldiers, their lives and their physical and mental sanity. We want them to survive and not commit crimes against humanity. We are just as appalled at the slaughter of so many thousands of Iraqis in the illegal war the U.S. is now waging in Iraq. We
need to say very clearly that the U.S. government does not represent our interest to be there to be a genocidal policeman of the Middle East or to invade countries there.

In the same vein, we do not consider ourselves ‘self-hating’ Jews who suffer from ‘internalized anti-semitism’ when we want to protect the reputation of all Jews as a compassionate people who certainly know what it’s like to suffer discrimination and genocide. Therefore, anyone who discriminates against or humiliates, harasses, persecutes, tortures, kills, destroys the livelihood of or demolishes housing of, treats as second-class or has a national policy of dehumanizing another ethnic group is our enemy, espcially because we are Jews.

For years now, many Israelis, including several women¹s groups, have actively opposed Israeli government policies against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza, and more and more Jews in the U.S. as well as in many other countries are refusing to identify with these policies. And many others have been trying to protect the Palestinians who are being persecuted and even killed by the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force who often face no charges for this murder. We certainly do identify, however, with those courageous ‘refuseniks’ who heroically risk their own reputations by refusing to carry out Israeli policies, much like our own conscientious objectors in the U.S. military who refuse to go or return to Iraq and pay a heavy price for their actions. We need to say ‘NO, not in our name! As Jews, not in our name! As human beings, not in our name!’

Boycott, sanctions and divestment were effective in defeating apartheid in South Africa. A Rainbow boycott of Israeli goods is one small way we can make a very clear statement that can inform customers and others about Israeli policies regarding Palestine while advancing the boycott movement in the United States. And because of what Rainbow stands for, a socially accountable business, it reinforces the moral and political position of opposition to the militarist and oppressive Israeli state.

This movement is growing and Jewish people are no longer afraid to speak out, making the distinction between doing the right thing and fearing being labeled anti-semitic, incorrectly, of course, and, as a matter of fact, with quite malicious intent. In the name of our dead, our persecuted, our annihilated ancestors, let us oppose the murderous Israeli policies with
all our might, with our pocket books, our words, in the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, ‘repairing the world’ and of fighting along with the oppressed for the rights of all oppressed.

Please support the boycott of Israeli goods at Rainbow.

Your loyal Jewish customers,

Maggie Leigh Michael Gast Janice Rothstein
Jean Pauline Stefan Lynch Elliot Helman
Sonia Siegel Dolores HelmanAri Lev Fornari Gene Herman

Shoppers Petition to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative to BIG

Shoppers’ Petition to RAINBOW Grocery Cooperative to BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS (BIG):
August 1, 2006
Dear Rainbow Grocery Cooperative:
As active Rainbow shoppers we are asking you to join the growing list of organizations and institutions that are boycotting Israel. Some of us have shopped at Rainbow since the store opened on 16th St. We are writing to ask that you reconsider a boycott of Israeli goods at Rainbow.

Although Rainbow doesn't carry a significant number of Israeli products, this vote would have extremely significant implications. Rainbow and the food co-op movement grew out of the movements of the 1960's and 70's against the war in Vietnam, and for peace, liberation and rights for workers, communities of color, women, and the LGBT community. The corporations manufacturing the pesticides that poison our food, water, and land were and are the same corporations manufacturing napalm and other hideous chemicals of war.

Recent Israeli attacks have completely destroyed the infrastructure of Lebanon and Gaza, killing and making refugees of their populations, under the pretext of forcing the return of two captured Israeli soldiers in Lebanon and one in Gaza. However the western media failed to report that Palestinians captured the Israeli soldier only after Israelis kidnapped two Palestinian civilians. On Thursday July 20, the SF Chronicle reported that Israel had been preparing for this war for more than a year and was just looking for a pretext to start it.

Israel routinely kidnaps and imprisons Palestinians, assassinating those it consider its enemies (witness the film Munich) with no outcry from the US press or government. Political leaders in this country and the media apply a complete double standard to Israel/Palestine, excusing Israeli behavior and condemning only Palestinians, which inflames the situation and makes a negotiated peace impossible. Since the US government funds, arms and supports Israel unconditionally and uncritically, thereby enabling this war to happen, it becomes incumbent on people in the United States to act to stop the war. Those among us who are Jewish are especially concerned to dissociate ourselves from what Israel is doing.

This reckless war endangers the future of the Middle East and will have catastrophic consequences for the whole world. A clear call for a boycott of Israeli goods by as significant a community organization as Rainbow Grocery would have a resounding effect in supporting the movements for peace and social justice in the world. It would be entirely consistent with the historical mission of the San Francisco Food System, of which Rainbow Grocery was once a part.
Therefore we ask you to boycott Israeli goods and remove them from our community’s store.



Take anti-war action now!

What you can do immediately to help with this emergency situation:

Sign the above letter and send it to Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, 1745 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA. USA 94103; fax 415-863-8955 also send a copy to

Send a message to Rainbow: Webpage:, click on ‘contact’ and use their message box

Call 415-863-0620 and let Rainbow know you support the BIG.

Volunteer to table outside Rainbow, we are setting up two-hour slots, email when you are available to help.

While shopping: fill in a customer service slip and/or grocery shopping receipt saying you support a boycott at Rainbow; ask where the Israeli products are at the store; wear Boycott signs, badges, t-shirts.

Forward this email to your list-serve, call your friends and ask them to do the same; ask organizations to endorse the petition.

Boycott Ahora!

Rainbow Shoppers and Workers Boycott Israeli Goods Committee

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


How can boycotting Israeli goods help end these violations of human rights?

Israel¹s treatment of the Palestinians strongly resembles South Africa¹s apartheid system, which began to crumble only when international boycott and divestment had caused severe cultural and economic isolation. Similarly, boycott and divestment will put pressure on the Israeli government to end the occupation and adhere to international law.

In addition to its direct impact, a boycott of Israeli products will help influence world opinion against the occupation and apartheid system. This, in turn, will build pressure for divestment from companies doing business with Israel and can lead to reconsideration of the current unconditional U.S. diplomatic and economic support of Israeli expansionist and discriminatory policies.

Why Israel?

While Israel/Palestine is not the only place where human rights are under attack, there are two main reasons for focusing the boycott campaign on Israel:

* Israel is the largest single recipient of U.S. foreign aid and

diplomatic support. Since 1982, the U.S. has given Israel aid amounting to $75 billion and has vetoed 32 UN Security Council Resolutions condemning its human rights violations. This preferential treatment could be called into question if Israel failed to respond to the just demands of an international boycott.

* Israeli oppression of the Palestinians has been a major factor behind the chronic turmoil in the Middle East. Regional stability requires an end to this source of hostilities between the two peoples.

But doesn¹t Israel have a right to defend itself?

International law is emphatic in its prohibition of collective punishment of civilians. Amnesty International reports that in 2006 alone the Israeli army killed 325 Palestinian civilians, including 120 children, while Palestinians killed 20 Israeli civilians, including one child. Even more to the point is the following excerpt from ³The Courage to Resist² letter signed by 600 Israel Defense Force reserve officers:

We, combat officers and soldiers...have been on reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country, and that had the sole purose of perpetuating our control over the Palestinian people...The missions of occupation and oppression do not serve the purpose of Israel¹s defense, and we shall take no part in them.

Is boycotting Israeli goods anti-Semitic?

The boycott does not target the Jewish people; it targets Israeli government policies that harm not only Palestinans but Israeli Jews as well. The occupation has placed a huge strain on Israel¹s budget, on its lines of defense and on its international reputation.

The boycott¹s goal is equality and justice for everyone in the land. These are well known traditional Jewish values. Moreover, a non-violent tactic whose purpose is to achieve a just and lasting peace cannot legitimately be called anti-Semitic.

Why Rainbow Grocery?

Rainbow is a community-conscious cooperative that has always been responsive to shoppers¹ input, e.g., when it supported the South African boycott. Although it carries few Israeli products, a boycott by a worker-owned organization as significant as Rainbow grocery could inspire similar

community organizations to follow suit. This would bolster the growing

international boycott/divestment/sanctions movement which, as of summer 2007 includes national labor unions in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa, the government of the Netherlands and the Church of England. Among other groups considering support of the campaign are the World Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Church, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and many universities.

Let Rainbow know you support a boycott of Israeli goods by calling

(415) 863-0620 or by sending a message to, click on ‘contact¹ and use their message box.


RAINBOW BIG (Boycott Israeli Goods) is a group of shoppers and worker-owners at Rainbow Grocery organized to encourage the store to remove Israeli products from its shelves. RBIG is part of a mounting international campaign to pressure Israel to end its brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories and its racist system of discrimination against its own non-Jewish citizens. The following are among the most oppressive features of the occupation and apartheid system:

* Expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland and creation of an exclusionary Jewish State

* Israeli West Bank settlements populated by over 400,000 Jewish

colonists built on Palestinian land, in violation of U.N. Security

Council Resolution 465

* A 25-foot-high concrete separation wall reaching far into Palestinian territory to incorporate the settlements into greater Israel, ruled a

violation of international law by the International Court of Justice

* A massive highway network, restricted to Jewish travelers only, which connects the settlements with Israel proper. This network, along with the settlements and the separation wall, fragments the West Bank into economically unsustainable areas similar to bantustans of the apartheid era in South Africa.

* Israeli control of water resources meagerly distributed to Palestinians(e.g. in the city of Hebron, 400 Jewish settlers get 85% of the water and 15% goes to 120,000 Palestinians)

* 12,000 Palestinian homes demolished; over 500,000 olive and fruit trees uprooted to make way for the separation wall

* Imprisonment of 10,000 Palestinians, many indefinitely and without

trial, in violation of the Geneva Convention