Money doesn't talk, it screams - Bob Dylan
What's the best way to handle corporations that knowingly or unknowingly provide material support to terrorists and their supporters?
In Los Angeles, there is a notorious radio station known as KPFK. It's part of the taxpayer funded Pacifica Network and considered public radio, although what comes out over the airwaves makes NPR or even Air America look like Right Wing die hard conservatives.
In common with much of the Angry Left, Israel bashing and Jew hatred are staple parts of its broadcast day. A couple of years ago, the station lost a number of donors after `Afrikan Liberation Week' which was essentially an on-air orgy of anti-Semitism that Louis Farakhan and Yasir Arafat would have loved.
Since then, much of KPFK's Jew hatred is more skillfully camouflaged as `anti-Zionism' and one of the station's flagship programs is `Radio Intifada,' which, as its name indicates, could best be described as an on-air demonization of Israel's very right to exist and a rationalization of terrorism against its Jewish population.
Like many public radio stations, KPFK and its shows receives corporate donations of money and goods, often from mainstream firms who only know that it's public radio and see it as good PR without really knowing what's being put out over the airwaves.
Up until a short while ago, KPFK and Radio Intifada were receiving donations from Berkley-based Peet's Coffee, Trader Joe's Markets, Gelson's Markets and Whole Foods. When these firms were notified what their donations were funding,Gelson's and Trader Joe's promptly curtailed their donations to KPFK and Radio Intifada. Whole Foods and Peet's Coffee did not.
Daryl Tempkin, PHD runs a lecture bureau and educational center called The Israel Institute - and he decided to make his views known to Whole Foods and Peet's by writing letters.
While Peet's refused to even acknowledge him or anyone else's complaints Whole Foods did write him back - and essentially told him thanks for your concerns, now go away.
Here's what the correspondence looked like:
March 30, 2007
Dear Whole Foods Leaders,
I know you have received many letters asking you to discontinue your support of KPFK.
I understand that in running a company, many different advertisers come asking for your advertising dollar. Businesses often do not know what they are supporting from their advertising. However, in the case of KPFK, it is somewhat clear that they are a radical agenda driven organization.
If you didn't know before, by now you are aware that KPFK is the leading radio station promoting a radical leftist philosophy which is abhorrent to many of your customers. You will have to consider what client base you want to attract. As you know so well, your business is not just about selling food, you are selling and promoting a lifestyle. Your customers know that and that is an additional reason that they give you their shopping dollar.
You have to decide what your "lifestyle" image will fully reflect. You will have to publicly go on the record and let your buying audience know how and where you stand.
In today's world, people expect a lot more from a company than just selling a product, especially when that company has ventured into the public debate.
I along with many others will support you choosing more moderate causes to ally your political advertising dollar.
Daryl Temkin, Ph.D.
April 5, 2007
Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns; we appreciate and welcome your feedback.
The mission of Whole Foods Market is to provide the highest quality natural and organic products available and to appeal to customers who are interested in the benefits to be derived from consuming high quality food regardless of their political persuasion, religious beliefs or their position on controversial issues.
Whole Foods Market's donation policy allows our stores the freedom to choose organizations that are important to our communities and Team Members. We do not call out any specific organizations by name as to who our stores can or cannot donate to. We are intimately connected to the health and economy of each community we serve, and feel it is our responsibility to give back to those communities in meaningful ways. We support many non-profit groups during the course of the year. KPFK radio station is just one of the many groups that we support. We make donation choices based on specific criteria and feel that public radio meets those criteria.
Thank you for your comments and hope you will continue to support Whole Foods Market because of our commitment to bringing you the most healthful natural foods available.
Customer Communications Specialist
Global Communications Team
Tel: 512-542-0670 Fax: 512-482-7670
Let's be clear. Whole Foods, Peet's or anyone else have a perfect right to give their corporate dollars to whomever they want. But there are consequences to those decisions, since potential consumers also have a voice in where their money gets spent.
Once the e-mails started coming to Whole Foods corporate ( and I like to think I had a very small part in spreading the word) and more importantly, once Whole Foods business dropped off a bit as their position on KPFK and Radio Intifada became known, things changed, and as Dr. Temkin genteely put it `Whole Foods now has a clearer understanding of the impact of their sponsorships and they look forward to serving the community in a more aware and responsible manner.'
Whole Foods is to be congratulated on seeing the light and dropping their support for this station and its programs, and interested parties may do so by e-mailing the president at firstname.lastname@example.org and Vice-President A. C. Gallo at email@example.com
As for Peet's, they're apparently still down for KPFK and Radio Intifada's agenda. Think about that the next time you make a decision on buying coffee or tea, and more importantly, let Peet's know about it at Peet's Coffee & Tea
And above all, remember that you can make a difference.