Collectivism, of course, makes a fetish of process. That is probably the most benign way to interpret what has recently been going on at the co-op, the largest in the country, owned and operated by its 16,000 members. For a few years now, a small contingent has been debating whether the organization should join the global movement known as BDS, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it returns all Arab land occupied in 1967.
Every other week, the co-op’s newspaper is consumed not only by epic, impassioned, sometimes-vitriolic letters about the issue, but also letters about how to talk about the issue, about how to think about the Middle East and about the appropriateness of these kinds of debates in a place that above all exists to purvey the right kind of clementine. There are letters about the kinds of typographical errors made in these letters. At the co-op’s next monthly meeting, on March 27, a vote will be conducted to decide whether a bigger vote, among all co-op members, ought to be conducted, authorizing a boycott of Israeli products.