A Washington Supreme Court decision reopens the path to fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
In “a major setback” to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, the Washington Supreme Court on Thursday reversed a ruling that protected the Olympia Food Co-op from lawsuits over its boycott of Israeli products.
The ruling, supported unanimously by all nine judges, nullifies a 2012 decision by the Thurston County Superior Court against five people who in 2011 sued the co-op over its policy to boycott Israeli products.
The 2012 ruling not only dismissed the five plaintiffs’ claim, but also punished them with a $230,000 bill for legal expenses and fines, saying it was a “SLAPP” lawsuit – strategic litigation against public policy, state legislation designed to punish those who used litigation to intimidate political rivals.
The decision on Thursday opens to the plaintiffs the possibility of suing Olympia once more in a trial court and having their claims reviewed. It also means the plaintiffs do not need to pay the $230,000 bill.
The Olympia Food Co-op is the only commercial establishment in the United States officially to vote to boycott Israeli products, according to StandWithUs, an American pro-Israel group that funded the plaintiffs’ motion to have the supreme court review the county court’s 2012 ruling.
The anti-Israel BDS vote at the Olympia Food Co-op passed because the Olympia Food Co-op board gave its community neither notice nor opportunity to debate before voting, in violation of specific requirements of its own board-adopted boycott policy, StandWithUs explained.
In their original lawsuit, the five plaintiffs accused the grocery store of unlawfully adopting the boycott measures in a process that violates its own bylaws.
StandWithUs stated in an announcement that it is “looking forward to the plaintiffs having their day in court – a real trial on the issues they first presented: The Olympia Food Co-op board’s violation of the co-op’s own rules and boycott policy when, without any public notice or debate, the co-op board voted to boycott Israeli products.”