Archbishop Desmond Tutu Endorses Olympia Food Co-op’s Boycott of Israeli Goods

(Olympia, WA – July 27, 2010) The Olympia Food Co-op’s decision to honor the international call for boycott of Israeli goods has inspired an inundation of phone calls, e-mails, and petition signatures supporting the solidarity gesture, including an endorsement from South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

The Archbishop endorsed the boycott with the following statement: “I, Desmond Tutu, fully support and endorse the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli products. The Olympia Food Co-op has joined a growing worldwide movement on the part of citizens and the private sector to support by non-violent tangible acts the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination. Cooperatives have a long history of working for and with the oppressed to strive for a better world, and now Olympia Food Coop has been the first to build off of that legacy in support of freedom for Palestinians. I encourage other cooperatives, grocers, and businesses to follow their courageous example of boycotting Israeli goods and for shoppers to support their principled stand.”

Palestinian Civil Society Endorsement

The Co-op has also received the endorsement of all major Palestinian agricultural and farmers’ unions. In a letter received July 26, the organizations make the following statement:

“The Olympia Food Co-op has demonstrated its courage and commitment to human rights by adopting a concrete and courageous measure in a show of genuine solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people […] We sincerely hope that their decision to stand with justice will not waver under the immense intimidation and bullying that Israel lobby groups will undoubtedly unleash against them. We believe that the most effective support conscientious individuals and groups across the US can provide to the Olympia Food Co-op is by starting their own local BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaigns that follow Olympia’s lead, branding Israeli products and services everywhere as stained with injustice and war crimes, just as South African products were treated during apartheid. Only thus can justice prevail and peace be attained and sustained.”

Endorsers of the letter included the General Union of Palestinian Peasants and Co-op Groups, Union of Palestinian Farmers, Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW), Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, Union of Palestinian Agricultural Engineers, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and National Committee for Popular Resistance, Popular Committees against the Wall and Settlements in Nil’in, Bil’in, Al-Maasara, Nabi Saleh, Budros, Beit Jala, and Wadi Rahal.

Outpouring of Support

The Olympia Food Co-op has been the focus of international attention since the July 15 decision to honor the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) for human rights. The Co-op became the first US grocer to publicly join this call.

Richard Falk, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories states, “The Olympia Food Co-op boycott of Israeli products bravely joins a growing worldwide movement on the part of citizens and the private sector to support by non-violent tangible acts the Palestinian struggle for justice and self-determination.”

“Rachel Corrie took a stand in March 2003 for a Palestinian family whose home was threatened with demolition,” says boycott supporter Cindy Corrie, the mother of the slain human rights activist. “We believe it fitting that the Olympia Food Co-op, of which she was a member, now stands with millions throughout the world who say, ‘Enough.’”

“This outpouring of support demonstrates the global impact of decisions made in Olympia,” says boycott supporter Chance Kroll. “As a co-op member it makes me keenly aware that what I buy makes a tangible difference to the Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers who risk imprisonment or even death for their work.”

The online petition in support of the boycott has received over 1600 signatures from the community and internationally. The list currently grows by about 200 signatures each day. A list of other notable endorsers is attached, and can be found at

Outreach Event

The Palestinian- and Israeli-led global BDS movement, inspired by the South African anti-apartheid struggle and the U.S. civil rights movement, has proven the most effective way to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and sustainable peace.

OlympiaBDS has organized an educational talk on the effectiveness of boycott, divestment and sanctions in the campaign to support the human rights of Palestinians. Olympia residents are invited to attend “Why Boycott? Why Divest?”, August 4, 2010 at 7:00pm at Traditions Fair Trade, 300 5th Ave in Olympia, Washington. The event is free of charge.

Press Contact:
Cindy Corrie
(360) 754-3998


Notable Endorsers of The Olympia Food Co-op’s Boycott of Israeli Goods

A partial list of the more than 1600 signatories of the online petition in support of Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli goods (a complete list is available here):

  • Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
  • Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, one of Washington Post’s 50 Top Rabbis in the US
  • Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist, and author of The Shock Doctrine
  • Richard Falk, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories
  • Anthony Arnove, co-author of Voices of a People’s History of the United States, and author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
  • Paul Kivel, violence prevention educator
  • Ann Wright, US Army colonel (retired ready reserve), former State Dept. official, recipient of the State Dept. Award for Heroism, survivor of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
  • Cindy Corrie, founder of Rachel Corrie Foundation, and mother of slain Palestine peace activist Rachel Corrie
  • Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
  • Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODE PINK and Global Exchange
  • Joel Kovel, psychiatrist and writer
  • Cindy Sheehan, peace activist, and mother of Private Casey K.I.A. in Iraq
  • Rabbi Alyssa Wise
  • Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize laureate
  • John Berger, author of G and Ways of Seeing, and Booker Prize winner
  • Yonatan Shapira, Israeli Air Force Captain and co-founder of Combatants for Peace
  • Tariq Ali, writer, filmmaker, commentator, editor of New Left Review
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War, Fort Lewis
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War, National
  • International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Los Angeles
  • Jews Say No!, New York
  • American Jews for a Just Peace
  • Women in Black, Los Angeles
  • Working Group on the Middle East of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Coalition of Women for Peace, Israel
  • International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Toronto
  • Women in Solidarity with Palestine, Toronto
  • Not In Our Name (NION) Jews Opposing Zionism, Canada
  • Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, United Kingdom
  • Jews Against Zionism, London
  • Not in our Name, Argentina
  • Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Near East, Austria
  • Rete ECO: The Italian network of Jews against the Occupation, Italy
  • French Jewish Union for Peace, France
  • Industrial Workers of the World, Olympia Chapter

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  • To boycott a repressive military state should not mean backing away from individuals struggling against the policies of that state.  So, in continued solidarity with the Palestinian people’s long resistance, and also with those Israeli activists, teachers, students, artists, writers, intellectuals, journalists, refuseniks, feminists and others who oppose the means and ends of the Occupation, I have signed my name to this call [for a U.S. Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel].

    Adrienne Rich