The Olympia Food Co-op Boycott: Nonviolent Struggle versus Conflict Resolution Process


  • The data collected for this article are part of a broader project described in Transnational Activism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, by M. C. Hallward (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). A more extended discussion of the Olympia Food Co-op boycott can be found in that book.


This article examines the contention caused by a decision in 2010 of the board of the Olympia Food Co-op to boycott all Israeli products from the co-op. The hometown of Rachel Corrie, a twenty-three-year-old Evergreen University student who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer while defending a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip, Olympia has a unique culture of social activism. However, as the case illustrates, community members differed in their conceptualization of what it means to be “progressive” on the subject of Israel and Palestine. Drawing on interviews and document analysis, the article argues that the polarization surrounding the co-op's boycott reflects broader tensions within the field of conflict studies, including those between advocates of nonviolent resistance and dialogue, proponents of process versus those of outcome, and those arguing for neutrality versus solidarity with the oppressed. The article also explores the role of competing and overlapping identity categories in how activists framed their position on the issues under contention.