The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) stepped up its campaign against Chapters/Indigo bookstores on 25 June, as activists disrupted the Annual Shareholders Meeting in downtown Toronto.
In addition to passing out flyers and engaging shareholders, journalists, and passersby in discussion and debate, one of the most exciting developments came from inside the shareholders meeting, when a shareholder challenged CEO Heather Reisman asking about her relationship to the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. Visibly irritated, Reisman cut the speaker off and repeated the tired claims that she was proud to have military personnel with distinguished careers on the board of Heseg, that Israel had the right to defend itself and as part of that, all Israelis had to serve in the military. Therefore, Heseg scholarships were available to all Israelis.
At this point, the shareholder invited the meeting attendees to go to the Heseg website and see for themselves that Heseg scholarships are only for Lone Soldiers (young men and women from all around the world with no family ties in Israel, who choose to move there to serve in the Israeli military). Again, Reisman rudely interrupted the shareholder and stated, this time, that Heseg scholarships are for people who have no parents in Israel. When presented with facts and unable to defend Heseg, Reisman chose to allow security guards to physically remove the shareholder.
It is a measure of the success of the Chapters/Indigo campaign that the CEO of Indigo Books and Music is unable to stand up in public, and state that she founded and financially supports an organization like Heseg. There have been a few times that Reisman has been asked about Heseg and every time she shuts down the meetings and walks away. Therefore, CAIA takes this opportunity to challenge Heather Reisman to a public debate about her financial support for the Heseg Foundation â if she is proud of this foundation she should be able and willing to support it publicly and debate its objectives.
The picket of the Indigo Shareholders meeting follows successful pickets of other Chapters/Indigo events like the Michael Ignatieff and Larry King book launches on April 28 and May 22. There is also an ongoing boycott Chapters campaign that has taken root in cities throughout the country.