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SAN FRANCISCO -- Besieged by Jewish protesters, San Francisco's Rainbow Grocery backed away from a partial boycott of Israeli-made goods Sunday, ending the dispute but leaving many of the demonstrators still seething.
The worker-owned supermarket caused an uproar when two of its largest departments, packaged foods and bulk foods, banned certain Israeli-made goods to protest Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
But as 200 people gathered in front of the grocery Sunday for a demonstration, the cooperative's board of directors announced that the boycott was null and void. "We apologize for the lack of oversight in allowing our internal processes to break down," says a director, Seanetta, who goes by only one name, reading from a prepared statement explaining that the two departments acted on their own. "We at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative do not tolerate any anti-Semitism on any level, or any form of oppression."
Representatives of Grassroots for Israel and the Jewish Community Relations Council quickly declared victory. "As a wave of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Israel sentiment sweeps the world, we cannot sit idly by," says Jeffrey Halbrecht, the founder of Grassroots for Israel, to cheers from the crowd. "It is our duty to loudly denounce lies and hatred directed against Israel and to proudly proclaim the truth about this small, beleaguered country."
Not everybody was against the boycott, however. Several members of Jews For A Free Palestine held up signs and loudly proclaimed their support for Rainbow's ban.