The boycott of Sabra hummus gains momentum

    An organized flash dance in Philadelphia seems to have sparked a serious movement against Sabra Dipping, hummus manufacturers co-owned by the Israeli food and beverage company Strauss Group.

    The company has close ties to the Israeli military through its support of the brutal and repressive Golani Brigade, which has gained a reputation as an aggressive combat unit that routinely violates human rights and international law standards. Golani soldiers have been convicted of beating Palestinian detainees and forcing them to sing humiliating songs while blindfolded. The Israeli daily newsaper Haaretz reports that the Golani Brigade, “struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.”

    Before the Philly BDS flash dance video [above] circulated around the internet, the Strauss Group’s English-language website stated that its “connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.”

    Soon thereafter, Strauss Group removed the reference to the Israeli military and the Golani Brigade from its English-language “Community Involvement” page.  The Hebrew-language version of the site retains the word-for-word reference to the Golani Brigade.

    The campaign against Sabra hummus, the largest producer of hummus in the world, has quickly spread to numerous US universities. DePaul’s Students for Justice in Palestine was prompted to ask for Sabra to be removed from the campus when they learned that Chartwells, a large dining services company, had introduced the hummus to various campus locations.  One week after writing a letter to university administrators, the organizers were informed that the product would be removed from the shelves for the remainder of the quarter and likely for the foreseeable future.

    The campaign to de-shelve Sabra has also spread to Georgetown and Princeton, where the latter’s Committee on Palestine has sponsored a referendum asking dining services to remove Sabra hummus. Unfortunately, the Daily Princeton editorial board has written against the hummus referendum, citing what they see as a weak connection between Sabra hummus and human rights abuses.

    But I’ve heard first hand the apprehension and fears of Palestinians who experienced aggressive and brutal treatment at the hands of Golani soldiers. Back in November 2009, when I was with a Christian Peacemaker Team in the West Bank, the Golani brigade was stationed in Hebron. Throughout their stay I witnessed and documented the extreme and unwarranted use of violence on Palestinian residents as Golani soldiers inflicted head wounds, broke civilians’ hands, and sexually harassed women at checkpoints. The Israeli military’s occupation of Hebron is consistently inhumane, but the maltreatment of Palestinian residents by the Golani Brigade is unparalleled.

    The connection between Sabra hummus and human rights abuses is not weak; it is as plain as day. Support the boycott of Sabra hummus and sign the petition letter to Strauss Group, asking them to drop their connection to Israeli army units.

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