Activists with the Portland BDS Coalition organized a flashmob protest inside a New Seasons grocery store on 29 May, demanding a full boycott of Israeli products. Promoting itself as “the friendliest store in town,” activists say that New Seasons has refused to meet with the BDS coalition and has added 9 new Israeli products to its shelves despite hundreds of complaints from customers.
In a press release, the Portland BDS Coalition stated:
Shoppers at Portland’s Concordia New Seasons were greeted with an unexpected performance this afternoon when about two dozen Portlanders broke into song and dance. “New Seasons, you say you’re local but you buy into Israeli occupation,” participants sang, referencing the 19 Israeli products New Seasons carries. The flash mob, coordinated by the Portland BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) Coalition, was part of an ongoing campaign calling on New Seasons to stop selling Israeli products.
“New Seasons cannot claim to be friendly and local while it continues to stock products made by Israel, a gross violator of international law,” said Wael Elasady, member of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights and flashmob participant. “There’s a glaring discrepancy between their ethical image and the products they profit from.”
The now-burgeoning BDS Coalition, endorsed by groups such as Jews for Global Justice and the ILWU Local 5, has submitted a petition with over 500 signatures from New Seasons shoppers. The petition asks New Seasons to respect the boycott call issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, and stop selling Israeli products until Israel complies with international humanitarian and human rights law. Additionally, hundreds of customers have submitted “comment cards” supporting the boycott.