Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Debate on Poughkeepsie BDS action

The following letters were all in response to a BDS/CVS demonstration in Poughkeepsie. †The first letter (Rabbi Loevinger) is at the bottom; then Pat L's response and then mine - so if you read from the bottom it makes more sense. † †Thought MECR might be interested. Eli

Begin forwarded message:
From: Elias Kassirer
Date: February 28, 2012 11:30:28 AM EST

To: Subject: Re: [DutchessPeace] Letter in today's PoJo Reply-To:

Good response Pat. †I am sending the following letter to the Journal today. Eli


To the Editor:
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, with all due respect, is simply wrong about Dutchess Peace and itís boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. †In truth and in fact, †Israel is the aggressor, the obstacle to peace, and the problem. †Israel enjoys complete military, economic, and media dominance over the Palestinians. †As a result of military occupation, land theft, illegal settlement building, humiliating military checkpoints, extensive home demolitions, imprisonment of children, bombings, and strangulation through the blockade, † Israel has created an apartheid state (ask Jimmy Carter or Desmond Tutu). †Jewish survivors of the Warsaw ghetto have noted the similarities between the horrors of Nazi occupied Warsaw and Israeli controlled Gaza.

Palestinians called for the BDS campaign as a non-violent attempt to pressure Israel to change. †The goals of BDS are to end Israeli military occupation, secure equal rights for all, and to allow Palestinians to return to homes and land that was taken from them. †Of course, Israel has legitimate and very real concerns about security, but Israel will never achieve either through policies of brutality and oppression. †Hopefully, †the non-violent BDS campaign will move Israel in a more human and humane direction. †I would hope that Rabbi Loevinger would spend some time speaking to his congregation about our shared humanity and shared suffering with particular attention to the current plight of the †Palestinian men, women, and children who are attacked, intimidated, and humiliated on a daily basis by Jewish settlers and IDF soldiers.

Eli Kassirer New Paltz


On Feb 24, 2012, at 3:12 PM, wrote:
The following letter appeared in today's Poughkeepsie Journal. Of course, it must be responded to. My suggestion is, rather than have one letter coming from all of us, as many as feel moved to do so write individual letters. I'm pasting my response below. It's personal and meant to come only from me. Who else wants to write a letter?


Boycotting Israel won't lead to peace The Dutchess Peace Coalition is a small group of activists for peace and social justice, who are by all appearances both sincere and passionate in their desire to bring about a better world.

If the DPC wants to work toward peace, it must swiftly separate itself from the movement to delegitimize and isolate the State of Israel, otherwise known as BDS: boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

The Peace Coalitionís website lists local actions, such as protesting the sale of Israeli cosmetics in front of drugstores, which will not bring peace, but will instead make peace a more distant goal. The inevitable result of such efforts is that Israel is seen as the sole aggressor, the sole obstacle to peace, the sole problem ó and it most assuredly is not.

Because BDS supporters do not understand or acknowledge the real threats to Israelís security, they strengthen extremist elements on both sides of the conflict, empowering those who think they can destroy Israel by means of war, provoking a more intense defensive posture on the Israeli side.

If the Dutchess Peace Coalition truly wants peace, it should work to promote a two-state solution ó which is the policy of the United States, Europe, Israel, and the mainstream Jewish groups in this country. It is our only real hope of peace.

Boycotting Israel doesnít help two peoples live side by side. Thatís what a real peace would look like, and itís not too late for the Peace Coalition to help bring it about.

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger


Now, my response:
As a member of Dutchess Peace, I wish to respond to Rabbi Loevingerís letter of February 24.

Dutchess Peace doesnít seek to ìdelegitimizeî Israel. We donít need to ìisolateî Israel; Israel has isolated itself. On February 18, 2011, the United Nations Security Council considered a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from its illegal settlements. Only the United States opposed the resolution, although Ambassador Susan Rice stated: ìÖwe reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activityÖî The U.N. General Assembly passed a similar, non-binding, resolution, 159 to 6.

The settlements, as well as the border wall (which often extends deep into Palestinian territory and separates Palestinians from their lands and livelihoods ñ another violation of the Geneva Conventions), destroy the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state. They are the most serious threat to Israelís security, as they make a two-state solution unworkable and create understandable resentment and despair. Dutchess Peace supports a boycott of products such as Ahava, a beauty product made in the settlements and sold at CVS stores and on their web site, to bring peopleís awareness to this injustice and to pressure Israel to abandon this reckless and dangerous policy.

While I regret having to oppose the Israeli government publicly, my Jewish upbringing has taught me to protest against injustice wherever I encounter it. While I condemn all violence on both sides, it is clear to me that it is the Israeli state that is the aggressor and must be stopped.

Pat Lamanna

Monday, February 13, 2012

Correction from

Too bad we didn't use this excellent resource when deciding the scope of our CVS actions. We have made some minor changes to this website to reflect the following information...

As you might know, we have a 5-year research project in Israel called "who Profits" ( - where we publish a database of companies involved in the occupation. We have a complete mapping of all settlement products and we have put a lot of effort into investigating dead sea products such as Ahava. It is crucial for our work to be very precise with our facts, and not to fall into exaggerations and all sorts of false information on the web, which can discredit our campaigns.

Check out our new whoprofits website:

On your website I see this quote: "CVS should stop selling Ahava, as well as other products made in Israel's illegal settlements. These include L'Oreal's Natural Sea Beauty, Dead Sea Salt Foot Soak, and Swisa Beauty Esensuals." This is not precise. Of these, only Ahava is a settlement product, it is produced in a settlement and partially owned by two settlements. Also, the mud they sell (as mud, not extracts) is excavated in the occupied area, in contradiction with international law (forbidding pillage of natural resources). The dead sea minerals used by Ahava as well as by other companies are excavated in the south of the dead sea by Dead Sea Works, which is officially in 1948 Israel.

I would also encourage you to look for sales of SodaStream in your area, as it seems that they are gaining momentum in the US.
This is also a settlement product, and now, for the first time, there is a cheap alternative we can offer to this product. See where they sell near you:

Good luck in all and let me know if you need anything...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dutchess Peace held their first BDS rally in front of a CVS store. Most cars took flyers and we went through about 180 handouts. We also talked to the store manager who said that she had already discussed our objection to Dead Sea products with her district manager. We had 7 demonstrators there, more than enough to pass out flyers to stopped cars.

One member stood just outside the CVS door handing flyers to those leaving the store. At the end, a woman come up and disputed the fact that Palestinian's were treated like second class citizens. She was adamant but ill informed. We have heard the distortions so often now that we could say them ourselves, even the statement that Jimmy Carter is an "anti-Semite."

In all, a successful event because we had been seen by hundreds of cars and interacted with many people coming out of the store.


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