Washington Supreme Court Paves Way to Reopen Olympia Co-op BDS Case
The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a ruling by a lower court that ordered five plaintiffs who sued the Olympia Food Co-op over a 2011 vote to adopt anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions measures to pay fees and damages to the supermarket’s board members, the Algemeiner has learned.
Though the case does not force the Olympia co-op to reverse its decision to remove all Israeli products from its shelves, it does send the case back to a lower court, which will have to rule over whether the supermarket unlawfully adopted BDS measures in a process against its own bylaws.
Essentially, about three years after the case was filed, it means the lower court will have to hear the five plaintiffs’ case.
The lawsuit, which stemmed from the 2011 vote that made the Washington cooperative the only American supermarket to officially adopt anti-Israel BDS policy, was based on the claim that the cooperative had voted against its own procedural guidelines to adopt BDS.
After the case was originally filed, the lower court not only threw out the case, but it ordered the plaintiffs to pay $10,000 in damages to each of the food co-op’s board members, which the plaintiffs ultimately appealed at the Washington Supreme Court.
According to the director of pro-Israel group StandWithUs’ northwest chapter, Robert Jacobs, whose organization agreed to provide financial assistance so that the plaintiffs could take their case to the Supreme Court, “BDS is very active in Olympia.”
“It’s the home of the Rachel Corrie Foundation [for Peace and Justice], Evergreen State College is there and it’s been a hotbed of anti-Israel activity for many years,” he said,
In addition, BDS in Washington “tried to get to the Port Townsend [Food] Co-op to pass a boycott, they tried to get the Madison Market Central Market in Seattle to pass a boycott. In both cases members of the co-op were involved and aware in the effort. There was active and very strenuous debate and … as in every other co-op in the country where there has been an open process, BDS failed: Park Slope, Ithica, Davis, California, Sacramento, all of them failed when there was an open and fair debate.”