University News

Hummus options added after SJP protest

In response to Students for Justice in Palestine petition against Sabra, U. adds Cedar’s Hummus

By
staff writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2016

In response to requests from Students for Justice in Palestine to boycott Sabra Hummus, Dining Services has recently begun offering Cedar’s Hummus in University eateries.

Sabra is an American company partially owned by the Israeli Strauss Group, which has been a target of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement over its ties to the Israel Defense Forces. The group has contributed food and care packages to the IDF’s Golani and Givati Brigades, several sources said.

These brigades have “been accused many times in the past of human rights violations,” said Peter Makhlouf ’16, speaking on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine. The brigades “have carried out several massacres throughout the West Bank and Gaza.”

SJP “didn’t want to be purchasing a product that supported those human rights violations, so we pushed for a boycott and an alternative,” Makhlouf said.

In November, SJP began to circulate a petition calling for Dining Services to boycott Sabra products. The petition received 225 signatures in about three months.

“The concept of choice is important to the team at Brown Dining,” wrote Emily MacCoy, the marketing and communications specialist for Dining Services in an email to The Herald. “In this spirit and in response to the concerns of these students, a second hummus option was added so the Brown community would have the opportunity to make their own decisions on which to purchase,” she wrote.

In December 2014, Wesleyan also began stocking Cedar’s alongside Sabra.

Daniel Youkilis ’19, a member of Brown Students for Israel and J Street U Brown, said that he personally feels that adding another hummus option was not a big deal.

“But I think that bowing to the pressure of an economic boycott isn’t a good precedent to set,” he said, adding that boycotting Sabra products only serves to “demonize Israel.”

“It is very easy to trivialize a hummus boycott,” but the BDS movement is “the single strategy for Palestinian rights from our perspective as students,” Makhlouf said.

Youkilis took issue with a flyer circulated by SJP encouraging a student boycott of Sabra that stated hummus is appropriated by Israel. He said that this claim was “factually wrong,” because Israel is home to nearly three million Mizrahi Jews — Jews with Middle Eastern heritage. Because their “ancestors have been eating hummus, (and) they have been eating hummus for their whole lives,” Israel is not appropriating the food, he said, adding that SJP should not “erase the existence of Mizrahi Jews.”

Makhlouf agreed that hummus is a part of Mizrahi Jewish culture but noted that while Mizrahi foods are celebrated as part of Israeli culture, Mizrahi Jews are “virulently discriminated against” in Israel.

“The appropriation of various Arab foods, whether those Arabs be Muslim, Christian or Jewish, is part of a colonial project,” Makhlouf added.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Peter Makhlouf ’16 said the Dinning Services movement is “the single strategy for Palestinian rights from our perspective as students.” In fact, Makhlouf was talking about the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. The Herald regrets the error.