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No Peace Prize for You 

It's a Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this time being waged in the supermarket

Wednesday, Jul 18 2007
Many Jewish customers have refused to enter Rainbow Grocery — the hippie-dippy worker-owned cooperative that preaches an "inclusive environment that is welcoming to everyone" — ever since two departments de-shelved Israeli products in an apparent anti-Israel boycott in 2002. (Store employee Naomi Jelks says it was done without store authorization, and the boycott was later shot down by an employee vote.)

Now the Human Rights Commission is investigating a complaint by ex-customer David Nahmod, who says he was called a "stupid Jew" more than a year ago by a cashier who employees say identifies as Palestinian. Nahmod, a 51-year-old freelance writer and dog-sitter, says he motioned to the woman's "Free Palestine" T-shirt and asked, "Wouldn't it be nice if they could all live in peace?" He alleges that she responded with the epithet and that suicide bombers should kill as many Jews as possible. He said he approached her a second time months later to similar effect. ("I thought she might just be having a bad day" the first time, he says, seemingly without irony.)

Jelks says an "internal investigation" conducted after Nahmod filed a customer complaint yielded another story: The cashier said she didn't want to talk politics at work (duh, man, read the T-shirt!), but Nahmod escalated the conversation into a heated exchange, and Nahmod's accusations could not be proven.

The cashier, who identified herself as Nikki, flung some major attitude on the phone while telling us her version, and then said we couldn't print any of it, or she'd sue. Since we've already got one lawsuit from the Bay Guardian, all we get to print from Nikki is this: "The things he is saying I said are all false. None of these words came out of my mouth."

Ex-Rainbow shopper Peter Altman, deputy director of BlueStarPR, a nonprofit that promotes positive images of Israel, says Nahmod should have known better than to bring up Israel at Rainbow: "David is naive because most people know that if you don't want Israel torn to shreds, first of all, they wouldn't go there, and if they do, they'd be quiet."

A Human Rights Commission spokesman says the store "has a pretty good record," having racked up only one or two complaints in the last five years. Jelks says the Jew-bashing is not tolerated at the store, and if it could be proven, the cashier would probably be fired.

Rainbow has banned Nahmod from the store for his alleged "harassment," but Nahmod says he hasn't returned for more than a year and never will. Turns out, he says, soy cheese pizza is cheaper at Whole Foods.

About The Author

Lauren Smiley


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