Skip To Content

4 Pro-Israel Park Slope Food Co-Op Members Push Back Against BDS Suspension

Four Park Slope Food Co-Op members who were suspended from the group for disrupting a presentation on boycotting Israeli products vow to keep up their fight — and are planning to sue the group.

Co-op members Alan Ettlinger, Rhudi Andreolli, Milldred Rutner and Sharon Eagle were suspended for a year by a unanimous vote of a jury of other co-op members. The decision, which was made in April but only reported this week, bars the four from entering the co-op or attending any of its events.

Rutner called the hearing a “kangaroo court” and said that they had already spoken to an attorney who had agreed to take the case. No legal papers have been filed.

“The hearing that we had was grossly unfair,” she said. “They were supposed to be impartial.”

Andreolli also believes that they were unfairly targeted by co-op members who support BDS when they were merely standing up against anti-Semitism.

“We stood up to these bullies and these lies and propaganda and we got shot down,” said Andreolli.

She likened pro-BDS members to ‘fascists’ and asserted that taking such a critical stance of Israel is anti-Semitic, even though many of their opponents are also Jewish.

“Zionism is Judaism,” she said.

The food co-op has been fighting over whether to boycott some Israeli products for nearly a decade. In 2012, members of the group voted down a proposal to boycott some Israeli products after a contentious debate.

On April 28, 2015, the four members got up on the stage to interrupt a presentation about boycotting SodaStream products by the neighborhood’s BDS chapter. They insisted that the photos of military action in the occupied territories be taken down and would not get off the stage unit they were.

On April 10, 2016, the four members were suspended after a disciplinary hearing.

Ann Herpel, the co-op’s general coordinator, said that the suspended members will be welcome to rejoin once the year is over. The disciplinary process took a year to go through the process and arrange a hearing.

“The process has been approved by the membership through our general meeting…” she said. “I don’t think it’s my place to criticize [the outcome].”

Robin Ticker, a blogger who has been an outspoken opponent of BDS, said that she was helping her four suspended friends put together the lawsuit against the co-op. She feels that their side has not been sufficiently heard.

“Let’s talk truth,” said Ticker. “Let’s address the complaints.”

Andreolli said being suspended from the co-op has taken a serious toll on her life.

“I depend on the co-op. I’m poor … but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to eat healthy. And they still threw me out,” she said.

Rutner said that she hopes the situation would not come to trial, but also will not stop pushing until BDS is no longer permitted at the co-op.

“I am going to see this through and I am going to work towards throwing out BDS and then I will quit,” she said.

Contact Veronika Bondarenko at [email protected] or on Twitter, @veronikabond.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.