Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
In late April, a checkout person at the Maryland Food Collective told a student that her “I Stand With Israel T-Shirt” was offensive, and refused to serve her, according to diamondbackonline.com, the University of Maryland newspaper. The student found another worker to help her but left the store “emotionally distraught,” said Avi Mayer, president of the Pro-Israel Terrapin Alliance.
Mayer and Sophomore Rachel Bergstein, who was “absolutely shocked” when she heard about the incident and wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper that sparked a campus-wide debate, “lamented that those on both sides of the argument haven’t worked harder to reconcile their differences.”
“I wanted people to ask positive questions [because of the letter], but instead I heard people are going into the co-op and saying, ‘So I heard you hate Jews,’” Bergstein said.
“I have heard of individuals who were planning on either staging some kind of protest or electing not to purchase there anymore, but I would really urge the community to sort of pause and enable whatever negotiations are underway to play themselves out,” Mayer added.
Bravo to Mayer and Bergstein, and to the coop for issuing a public apology to the student who was denied service. The coop says it will shortly issue a statement presumably clarifying that it’s not OK to refuse service to people who wear an “I Stand with Israel” t-shirt, but because they are a consensus organization, my own experience tells me such a statement may take weeks if not years (I love consensus, but nothing cures the bitterness of having had to sit through an 8-hour consensus meeting in my teen years at my largely Jewish Quaker hippie camp, where we had to decide whether or not to expel some kids for using drugs. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have someone in charge make a decision.)
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