Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rainbow Grocery Really Does Hate Jews

As noted previously, I spent several years after my post-9/11 political transformation as a Bay Area counter-protester/protester (depending on the event at hand), an experience that was instrumental in opening my eyes up further to the true face of the local left and its Islamist allies. In particular, the anti-Semitism on display across the board (sometimes, but not always, cloaked under anti-Zionism) became a very personal reminder of why I no longer wanted to associate myself with today's alleged "progressives."

It was at one just of these protests that an incident occurred that recently took on new meaning. The local Jewish, pro-Israel (the two are not necessarily synonymous) community had organized a protest outside the San Francisco health food store cooperative Rainbow Grocery in 2002. The reason being that several of its departments, in all their tolerant, granola glory, had decided to boycott Israeli goods. Not Saudi Arabian goods, North Korean goods, or Chinese goods (remember "Free Tibet"?), mind you, but Israeli goods.

Just as similar boycotts or threatened boycotts in the years since, this one was based on nothing more than a steady stream of anti-Israel propaganda to which those with no grasp of history are particularly vulnerable. And yet I felt then, and still do, that willful ignorance is no excuse and that those who perpetrate discrimination or hatred as a result are as responsible for their actions as anyone else.

So I marched off to the protest with a purposefully shocking sign in tow. While the typical signage at protests organized by the local Jewish community tended to be quite mild (some might even say meek), a couple of fellow activists and I made a point of shaking things up with a more direct message. In particular, we often carried a sign that basically read, "Fill-in-the-blank Hates Jews." Conveniently, in a macabre sort of way, there were so many cases of obvious Jew-hatred around that the sign was really quite apt to a number of occasions and had only to be altered in terms of its subject.

For instance, at a rally outside San Francisco's Egyptian embassy in 2002 to protest Egyptian state television's airing of a month-long series (planned to coincide with Ramadan when the most viewers would be at home), that was based on the Czarist forgery and anti-Semitic classic "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," my companion carried a sign that read simply, "Egypt Hates Jews." Some of our fellow protesters looked on with consternation, while a few of the elderly Jews, who had undoubtedly experienced anti-Semitism up close and personal on a number of occasions, nodded approvingly. Others there lit candles, held hands, and sang songs of peace, but it was our signs that got the point across. Peace had absolutely nothing to do with it.

So when I went off to the Rainbow Grocery protest, I took along a sign that read, "Rainbow Hates Jews." Because at the heart of the unfair singling out of Israel among all nations, not merely for criticism, but for persecution and, ultimately, annihilation, is nothing more than hatred of Jews.

As usual, my fellow protesters didn't quite see it that way and I received more than a few disapproving looks from those quarters. But it was a Rainbow Grocery employee who really couldn't handle the truth, as they say. She and several other employees had been circling around my sign and looking ever-more shocked by the minute, she marched up to me and declared, "I'm offended by your sign!" I suppose that was the signal for me to crumble in abject embarrassment (this is, after all, a city where giving offense is seen as the ultimate crime), but instead, in a wonderfully satisfying moment, I responded slowly and with great emphasis, "I don't care!" An astounded bystander couldn't seem to believe her ears and starting laughing. The Rainbow employee looked completely stunned and after I added, "I'm offended by your Jew-hatred," she stomped off in a state of perpetual indignation. Adding to the triumphant nature of the experience, Rainbow called off the boycott soon after, although it has reared its ugly head more than once since.

This story is just one little vignette among many other funny and outrageous moments of street theater from my counter-protesting/protesting days, but I never forgot it. And when I stumbled upon an article in the current issue of J: The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California (to which I have contributed in the past) titled "Alleged anti-Jewish tirade at Rainbow sparks probe," it all came back.

It seems freelance writer and Sephardic Jew David Alexander Nahmod got a taste of the sort of "open mindedness" and "diversity" San Francisco is famous for when he had comments such as "Jews need to be killed, it's the only way to get them off Palestinian land" and "You’re just a stupid Jew" hurled at him by a woman working at the checkout line of, you guessed it, Rainbow Grocery.

When Nahmod tried to complain to customer relations, he was told by the charming employee to "leave him alone or he'd 'whoop' him. So Nahmod took his discrimination complaint to the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and, if it pans out, it looks like Rainbow Grocery will be the only one getting whooped around here. Especially since the reaction thus far of Rainbow's employees has been anything but professional.

The J. article elaborates:
Rainbow officials declined to field j.’s numerous phone calls. One member of the store’s board abruptly hung up during a phone interview, while another demanded that an interview request be submitted in writing. It was. We then received a fax claiming Nahmod was banned from the store because of his "continued documented harassment."

Ed Ilumin, an officer at the Human Rights Coalition, said that if Nahmod’s complaint is true, Rainbow would be in violation of a San Francisco municipal code prohibiting discrimination by a business or public accommodation based on race, ethnicity or religion.

Thousands of dollars in fines could be levied against the store. In addition, the co-op could lose its city contracts. But the HRC’s most powerful weapon may be the negative publicity that comes with a finding of discrimination.

"Certainly it would be damaging for a business if we found willful discrimination conducted there," Ilumin said. He expects the HRC to issue a decision by early August.
So it appears the sunny, little co-op known as Rainbow Grocery is reaping what it has sown. And my sign has been vindicated.

It turns out Rainbow really does hate Jews.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rainbow used to be a prototypical hippie collective grocery store, but like so many other left-wing groups and individuals, they went insane en masse after 9/11. It still amazes me how one event could have had such an effect, to strip away all the social facades in the nation in a single stroke, and all the anti-American/anti-Semitic/anti-civilization hatemongers were exposed for everyone to see. Suddenly Rainbow (as the perfect example) was no longer a happy-go-lucky experiment in utopian Marxism, as it had been, but a seething, festering cesspool of hatred and cognitive dissonance. Of course, they had probably been that way all along, in their hearts, but I was unable to see it.

Now I have the urge to put on an IDF shirt with a big Israeli flag pin and go shopping there, just to see what happens. But, unlike you, I don't have the nerve!

Another suggestion for some devastating retail-theater: Dress normally, select something from the shelves, wait in line, and when it's your turn, stop the checker, and say, "Hold on! I thought this store boycotted Israeli products. That cash register -- it uses Intel chips that were designed in Israel! Every single transaction involves an Israeli product! I demand that my transaction be in cash, with a handwritten receipt!" Then, when she picks up her cell phone to call the manager over, say, "No, stop! That cell phone was designed in Israel too! I forbid you to use it!"

Thursday, July 19, 2007 10:33:00 PM  
Anonymous GM Roper said...

"I demand that my transaction be in cash, with a handwritten receipt!"

LOL, the PERFECT rejoinder!

The anti-semitism of the left is astounding given their supposed support for human rights. Which of course means that the only rights they recognize are the decidedly crazy rights to protest without consequence.

Friday, July 20, 2007 4:08:00 AM  
Blogger Bald Headed Geek said...

I posted about this on my blog as well. Why does it seem like every kook in the world gravitates towards San Francisco?


Friday, July 20, 2007 5:06:00 AM  
Anonymous John Weidner said...

Fascinating stuff!

"insane en masse after 9/11..." My guess is that the dissonence between 70's thinking and the actual reality around them had been building up for a long time. The Clinton years were a bit of a respite, since most people tend to imagine that the President sort of "is" the country. Bush was a shock, but they could claim he stole the election.

But 9/11 brought everything out into the open. One of my first blog posts, in November 2001, was about how 9/11 was like turning over a rotten log, and letting the light shine on a myriad of things, some beautiful and some creepy...

Friday, July 20, 2007 7:34:00 AM  
Blogger Old Labour said...

The right lies again. These are the same people who say that they can be against the NAACP but not against black people. I have thought long and hard about my disapproval of Israel and tried to search my sole for a anti-semitic thought and have found some uncomfortable stereotypes that I am battling. Looking back on an incident in high school, I now realize that it was anti-semitic but not the supposed liberal kind, but the traditional conservative kind.

But my opposition to the policy's of the Israeli government are not rooted in antisemitism. I like most liberals love Jews and have fought with them many times. We also love Israel. And because we love Israel we are harder on Israel. Israel needs tough love. Their addiction to occupation is killing them.

Israel wants to remain an Jewish state but is bent on annexing Arab lands and peoples.

The demographic reality is that unless Israel shrinks from its occupation that it will become a Muslim majority state.

The solutions for this raised by Israels are deranged as the rambling of any addict. Some predict that millions of American Jews will immigrate to Israel. There is unfortunately no evidence that this eventuality is likely.

Some speak of expelling the Arab population. It would be a sad ending for Israel to engage in policies that are by definition genocide.

By the way I don't own a car and rarely take public transport. So my embargo against Arab oil is nearly complete.

It is the height of hypocrisy for Ms Stillwell to accuse those who disagree with the policies of Israel to be necessarily anti-Jewish when evidence no ill will what so ever for American Jews or European Jews or Jews at all, just the policy of occupation.

While she paints billions of Muslims from hundreds of different traditions with the same broad strokes.

Oh, yea about the Tibetans some argue that if the Palestinians stuck to nonviolence they would be independent today. Well the whole nonviolence thing didn't really work out in Tibet. It is worth noting that both the last Tibetan and Palestinian have been born. Though their peoples chose different responses to occupation the end was the same.

Thursday, July 26, 2007 8:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is the ONLY true democracy in the middle east. I wonder how long an openly gay Rainbow volunteer staffer would last if they tried to live in any middle east country other than Israel. I'd give em half a day.

Friday, January 04, 2008 2:28:00 PM  

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