Alerted last week that specialty food store Corrado’s in Clifton had allegedly agreed to pull Israeli products off its shelves, the local Jewish community took immediate action.
“I received two dozen e-mails in two days,” said Frank Corrado, one of the owners of the 60-year-old business. “They said things like ‘How could you?’ or ‘Shame on you.'”
In fact, said Corrado, there was never any boycott.
“We don’t discriminate against anything,” he said. “Our employees and customers are from all over the world. We try to carry products that will make our customers happy.”
|This poster, which appears on a variety of anti-Israel Websites, urges consumers not to buy dates grown in the west bank.|
Corrado is based in the family’s Wayne store. The incident that led to charges of boycott took place at the company’s Clifton facility.
When he began to receive the e-mails, said Corrado, “I thought, ‘What the heck is going on?'”
Speaking with cousins who operate the family-owned store in Clifton, he learned that last week, a customer “started making a scene – jumping up and down screaming – because we were carrying ‘Jordan Valley Dates – Product of Israel.'”
According to Corrado, the customer said the store “was not listening to the laws.”
“My cousin said, OK, we’ll take it off the shelf, to get the guy out of the store.” The product was put back on display after the man left, said Corrado.
When the customer returned and started screaming, “my other cousin said OK, we’ll do it.” Again, the products were returned to the shelf when the man left.
Apparently, the customer in question, identified as Dennis Y. Loh in a note posted on usacbi.wordpress.com – the Website of the U.S. Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel – thought his demands had been met.
Titling his post “BDS Success” (BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement against Israel), Loh – whose signature cited the group Creative Nonviolent Resistance against Injustice – wrote that Corrado’s had agreed to stop selling the dates, which he identified as a product of Israel.
Loh also suggested that several Middle Eastern store employees were in sympathy with his cause but that “[s]adly, they told me that the wholesaler of the ‘Made in Israel’ products was a Palestinian Arab.”
Corrado said he has responded to each of the e-mails he received from the Jewish community after Loh’s posting.
“I told everyone, if a government official came in and said we were not doing the right thing, we would comply.” In addition, he said, “If it’s illegal, how did it get into the country?”
This is the first time such a thing has happened at the store, he said, adding that he doesn’t know anything about a boycott.
“He was swearing that there’s a law [but] I’m not going to just listen to a customer that comes in. My cousin should have said, ‘If this is the law, have a government official come and explain it to us,’ but he just wanted to get him out of the store.”
Corrado said he’s “flabbergasted,” and that the store has brought in attorneys to deal with the matter. “We definitely want everyone to come shop here. There’s no discriminating, no boycotting.”
This is not the first time BDS has targeted a local store for carrying Israeli products.
Last year, a group called Don’t Buy Into Apartheid threatened to boycott food retailer Trader Joe’s in Paramus. The group’s protest was met by a counter-protest of Jewish activists, organized by Bob Nesoff, president of the New Milford Jewish Center.
“Our message is simply, ‘If you are going to try to harm Israel, we are going to do our best to help Israel,'” said Nesoff at the time. “They’ve got to know that Jews and friends of Jews in Israel are not going to sit back and take it on the chin.”
Trader Joe’s stood up against the boycott campaign, earning praise from the Anti-Defamation League.