BULLIES INTIMIDATE KITZEL’S JEWISH DELI IN OLYMPIA – NEW DETAILS

“If you continue to host events like this, then this is what will happen”

As previously reported on The Mike Report; by carrying Israeli made products and hosting speakers from Israel, Kitzel’s Deli  in Olympia, WA has captured the attention of local opponents of  the Jewish state.

Coinciding with a  recent court battle surrounding the Olympia food co-op’s  boycott of Israeli goods, the deli owners began receiving veiled and not so veiled threats against their own business.  It was at this time that the once thriving business reported an inexplicable 50% drop in sales, forcing the layoff of twelve staff.  The embattled business was subsequently bullied into canceling a visit from a delegation of Jewish Gay rights advocates from Israel (known as Rainbow Generation). The delegation was in part sponsored by StandWithUs, an Israel advocacy organization.

In a lengthy interview with Phan Nguyen of the blog Mondoweiss, Kitzel’s co-owner Hava Aviv told Nguyen that “People came and said, “Hava, we are very concerned that you are hosting StandWithUs events, and we are very concerned that if you continue to host StandWithUs events, that groups will begin to organize to boycott Kitzel’s.” This is what caused the cancellation of the event. I cannot survive a boycott.”

“some Jewish critics of Israel – felt uncomfortable being in a Jewish space that was so openly pro-Israel.”

Mr. Nguyen, a self described Palestine solidarity activist, posted the article on his blog with the apparent goal of demonstrating that there is no BDS organized boycott of Kitzel’s Deli.  Instead, Nguyen asserts that “some people personally chose not to patronize the deli due to disagreement with its politics.” And that “some Jewish critics of Israel – felt uncomfortable being in a Jewish space that was so openly pro-Israel.”

However, a few days before the Rainbow Generation event a group of three “individuals” approached Ms. Aviv telling her “we – have not patronized your business and know of other people that won’t patronize your business because of these [StandWithUs] events.” “It was not just the three individuals [mentioned above].” Aviv noted “It was many other individuals. A very close friend said, “I am very, very concerned. Very concerned about this.” And it feels like a threat.” “[They said] “if you continue to host

Photo Credit: Emily Keeler Alhadeff

events like this, then this is what will happen, and we will tell other people.” And in my book, that feels like a threat.” Aviv added “The message came across loud and clear.”

Mr. Nguyen referenced in his article a Facebook posting by an Olympia local, Olga Rose who stated “I don’t understand why a deli would go out of its way to buy Israeli goods, advertise trips to Israel, and host a StandWithUs event.”  “I looked at the pickled mushrooms I bought, and they were from Israel and then I looked to the left when paying for my food and there was a poster suggesting a trip to Israel and then I heard of the StandWithUs event and that was it for me, I can’t stand foot in there without cringing.”

“The message came across loud and clear.”

Although Mr. Nguyen in his Mondoweiss article asserts that there is no “organized”  boycott of Kitzel’s,  Annie Robbins, another writer for Mondoweiss advises Kitzel’s owners how to avoid the boycott’s wrath.  “Hava doesn’t get it” states Ms. Robbins in her post following Nguyen’s article  “the boycott is not ‘anti jewish’. if she’s into creating good vibes in her community around a pro Jewish theme she should do it in a way that does not challenge boycotters principles. There’s lots of ways to do that, like through

exposure and celebration of local Jewish artists or evenings that highlight famous Jewish figures…just stay away from promoting zionism.”

Ms. Robbins added that “[the owner of Kitzel’s] should make up her mind what is more important to her, promoting-running a successful business that meets the needs of her community, or promoting Israel through her business during a boycott.”

“The boycott is not ‘anti Jewish – just stay away from promoting Zionism.”

Whether Kitzel’s is the victim of an organized boycott or a coincidental convergence of people joined together by a common dislike of Israel is beside the point. Rather like lifting a rock at the beach to see what lies underneath, Mr. Nguyen has provided us with a disturbing glimpse into a community uniquely single minded in their antipathy towards the Jewish state along with anything and anyone associated with that Jewish state.