No Justice, No Chickpeas: Philly activists go ‘Gaga’ to spread hummus boycott

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Philly BDS, a coalition of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, and Arab organizations, recently initiated a boycott campaign against Sabra and Tribe hummus products because of their connection to human rights abuses of Palestinians. Coalition member Hannah Schwarzschild explains:

“As a customer and a Jew, I hope that Fresh Grocer will heed the concerns of it’s community members and consider ceasing to distribute these products. Not only would this a be a huge step toward supporting the human rights of Palestinians and working for a more just and peaceful Middle East, it would also serve to educate the community about the power of our consumer choices.”

Learn more at http://www.phillybds.org/.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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26 Responses

  1. Les
    October 26, 2010, 2:22 pm

    * Published 18:09 26.10.10
    * Latest update 18:09 26.10.10

    UN envoy demands Israel act against settler attacks
    UN Mieast peace coordinator ‘appalled at acts of destruction of olive trees and farmlands, desecration of mosques and violence against civilians’.
    By Reuters Tags: Israel news Israel settlers West Bank

    A senior UN official condemned attacks by Jewish “settler extremists” on Palestinians’ olive trees in the occupied West Bank and called on Israel to “combat violence and terror by Israelis.”

    Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, also said he was alarmed that work had started on hundreds of new homes for settlers in the occupied territory since the end of Israel’s settlement freeze last month.
    West Bank mosque arson

    Palestinians inspect a West Bank mosque allegedly torched by Israeli settlers, April 2010.
    Photo by: AP

    Serry was speaking to journalists on Tuesday while olive-picking with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the village of Tormos Ayya north of Ramallah. He said settlers
    had destroyed hundreds of trees in the village in recent weeks.

    Palestinians began harvesting olives across the West Bank this month.

    “I am appalled at acts of destruction of olive trees and farmlands, desecration of mosques and violence against civilians,” Serry said.

    “Israel states its condemnation of attacks, which I welcome, but its record in imposing the rule of law on settlers is lamentable,” he said.

    “Israel must combat violence and terror by Israelis, as is expected of the Palestinian Authority in the case of violence and terror by Palestinians,” he said.

    An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected Serry’s use of the term “terror” in reference to Israelis and said he should have chosen his words more carefully.

    “We understand that he decries acts of violence by certain settlers, but the Israeli government has been the first to condemn them and to instruct law enforcement agencies to crack down on the perpetrators – but when he speaks of terror by
    Israelis, does he mean Israeli suicide bombers on Palestinian buses?” spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

    Palestinian militants launched waves of suicide attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation earlier this decade.

    The Palestinians have said they will not resume peace negotiations, which began at the start of September with U.S. backing, until Israel agrees to halt building in the West Bank.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted pressure from the United States and the European Union to extend a freeze he had imposed on new home building in settlements in the West Bank. His government is dominated by parties which support the settlers, including his own Likud.

    Serry said new building was illegal under international law “and will only serve to undermine our efforts for a negotiated solution”.

    The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem has recorded almost one incident a day and in some cases more against Palestinians and their olive trees since the start of the
    harvest, spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said. The Israeli army had provided better access to groves near settlements, she added.

    “But this is their obligation … the Israeli authorities have failed miserably in enforcing law on settlers attacking Palestinians and their property,” she said.

    link to haaretz.com

  2. Richard Witty
    October 26, 2010, 2:59 pm

    How specifically to sabra and tribe humus contribute to Palestinian exploitation?

    Are they settlement products?

    Or just Israeli?

    • tree
      October 26, 2010, 3:32 pm

      For those who seem incapable of, clicking on links and reading, or just too lazy to put any effort into answering their own questions, here is the statement from the phillybds site on Sabra:

      Founded in 1986 as Sabra-Blue & White Foods, the company was sold to Israeli food manufacturer The Strauss Group in 2005. Strauss and PepsiCo each own 50% of Sabra.

      The Strauss Group is a publicly-traded corporation (TASE: STRS) and is the second largest Israeli food and beverage company. Strauss is widely touted as one of the great success stories of Israeli industry. According to a Strauss Group report, “Hummus is one of our national foods [sic], and can be found in just about every Israeli home.” Strauss reported revenues of over $1.6 billion (6,246 million NIS) for 2008.

      The Strauss Group is well known for its vigorous support of the Israeli Defense Forces. On its website statement on “Corporate Responsibility,” a section entitled “In the Field with Soldiers” boasts:

      Our 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. We have also adopted the Southern Shualei Shimshon troops from the Givati platoon with the goal of improving their service conditions and being there at the front to spoil them with our best products.

      Historically, the Israeli army has been a consistent violator of human rights and international law. But even by the abysmal standards of the Israeli army, Israel’s “elite” Golani Brigade has a history of severe human rights abuses against Palestinian and Lebanese people. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, the Golani Brigade “is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.”

      Yigal Amir, the right-wing extremist who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was a member of the Golani Brigade. A 1995 New York Times article on Golani Brigade reported, “One day reporters came upon some of them [Golani Brigades] in a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, dragging youths into a bus packed with soldiers beating their clubs on the steel seat frames in unison and chanting wildly: ‘We are Golani! We are insane!’… ‘In Golani, everybody hits,’ Mr. Amir’s comrade, Mr. Nagar remembered.” The

      Times article noted that, in addition to Amir, “Three men who had served in Golani have committed widely publicized murders of Arabs and an Israeli peace campaigner.”

      Ha’aretz noted: “In virtually every conflagration, Golani is rushed to the conflict point. In April 2002, during the intifada, the brigade played a central role in Operation Defensive Shield and the missions preceding it, and Golani’s actions in the Jenin and Tul Karm refugee camps led to the elimination of a number of wanted militants… Golani participated in the siege on Yasser Arafat’s Muqata compound in Ramallah, the capture of the casbah in Nablus (along with the Paratroops), and in the difficult fighting in Jenin refugee camp… In the… Second Lebanon War, it saw fierce battle with Hezbollah in the villages of Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbail and suffered 14 casualties between two battalions.”

      “Breaking the Silence,” a group of ex-Israeli soldiers, has documented numerous cases of Golani Brigade involvement in human rights abuses. For example, in November 2008 members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some of a sexual nature, including some celebrating the Golani Brigade itself. In December 2005 a Golani Brigade officer was convicted of beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to cut off his penis.

      As a shopper, you vote with your dollar. Instead of voting for Sabra-Strauss and the Golani Brigade, wouldn’t you prefer to vote for a local Philadelphia-based business that isn’t providing “personal care packages” for the thugs of the Israeli army to abuse occupied Palestinians? Locally made alternatives to Sabra hummus include Bobbi’s, Bitar’s, Wakim’s, and Moshe’s – please ask the manager of your store to stock these instead of Sabra. (Note: Tribe Hummus, Sabra’s leading competitor, is also owned by an Israeli company that supports the land confiscating and environment-damaging Jewish National Fund – please Boycott Tribe Hummus too!) You can also make your own hummus easily, inexpensively and deliciously:

      And on Tribe:

      Tribe is owned by a Tel Aviv-based Israeli corporation, the Osem Group, which bought the company in September 2008 for $39 million. Nestlé received a 1995 option for the acquisition of 10% of Osem’s shares in 1995, and it gradually increased its shares and now holds a 50.1% share of Osem. In addition to Tribe Hummus, Osem produces 1,000 different food items in 10 plants across Israel.

      The U.S. hummus market was estimated at $200 million in 2008 and is project to top $500 million by 2014. Tribe sales in 2008 were $32 million, up 25% in that one year.

      Osem announces on its corporate website, “Since its establishment in 1942 . . . the history of Osem is intertwined with the history of the modern state of Israel.” Osem has expanded steadily over the last 68 years, and today its U.S. subsidiary, based in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, is the largest importer of Israeli food products into this country.

      For many years, Osem has been a key supporter and partner of the Jewish National Fund. For example, Osem has run campaigns that promise donations to the JNF – one tree for every 5 boxes of Osem matzah sold. Osem frequently features the JNF on its product packages, promoting the continued planting of trees and the entire JNF land “reclamation” program. The JNF has honored Osem with awards and featured Osem as a key corporate sponsor.

      Many Jews in the U.S. and around the world grew up with JNF “blue boxes,” which collected money for the Zionist project of “reclaiming the Holy Land” for the Jewish people and “making the desert bloom.” For over 100 years, planting trees in Israel has been a theme of Jewish American culture – in many communities and families, every birth, bar and bat mitzvah, wedding, and funeral has been commemorated with the planting of a JNF tree. Less well known is the JNF’s role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes and ancestral lands since 1948, the disastrous environmental effects of the planting of non-native trees on the ecosystems of Palestine, or the fact that the JNF pine forests were planted on the ruins of Palestinian villages that had been razed in order to prevent their owners from ever returning to reclaim their homes. Because by law all land owned or administered by the JNF is reserved for the exclusive use of “the Jewish people in perpetuity,” the JNF has played a key role in the “judaization” of Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous people.

      Today the Jewish National Fund, with significant support from Tribe Hummus and the Osem companies, continues its work of appropriating land for Jews and evacuating Palestinians. Since 1967, the JNF has been the essential partner of the Israeli government and the army in building the infrastructure of the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – building Jewish-only roads and expanding Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land. Today its $600 million “Greening the Negev” project is forcing native Bedouins into seven urbanized Bantustans, destroying their traditional way of life and building Jewish-only suburban enclaves – complete with non-native green lawns and water-wasting sprinkler systems – where a desert community has existed for thousands of years.

      As a shopper, you vote with your dollar. Instead of voting for Tribe-Osem and the Jewish National Fund, wouldn’t you prefer to vote for a local Philadelphia-based business that is creating jobs and cycling your money back into your home community? Locally made alternatives to Tribe hummus include Bobbi’s, Bitar’s, Wakim’s, and Moshe’s – please ask the manager of your store to stock these instead of Tribe. (Note: Sabra Hummus, Tribe’s leading competitor, is half owned by an Israeli company that supports the Golani Brigade, a notorious squad in the Israeli army that is known for brutality and violations of human rights – please Boycott Sabra Hummus too!) You can also make your own hummus easily, inexpensively and deliciously.

      They are being boycotted because they support the occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians.

      • carnas
        October 29, 2010, 5:57 pm

        “Locally made alternatives to Tribe hummus include Bobbi’s, Bitar’s, Wakim’s, and Moshe’s”
        What a joke – why is buying products produced in the US, which happens to be occupying two countries at the moment and responsible for civilian casualties of a magnitude exponentially greater than Israel, any better?

    • Bumblebye
      October 26, 2010, 3:47 pm

      “How specifically”

      Don’t you ever look further than your nose? Follow the links and discover how the companies support the worst IDF brigades, or the JNF apartheid land theives.

      • Richard Witty
        October 26, 2010, 8:03 pm

        I read that.

        The posts really don’t say much. They advertise about supporting the Golani Brigade as a basis of their exploitation?

        I don’t really get it.

        So you are saying that they boycott them because they are conspicuous Israeli products, not for any specific reference to the settlements or occupation of the West Bank?

        The JNF is an organization that secures land to be held in leasehold rather than in private property. The local war tax resisters that I know personally well, employed a similar land trust model to make sure that land was used for purposes that they approved of (more environmental, but also some political litmus test screens for residence).

        Palestinian land is held partially in trust.

        What specifically is the dividing line do you and they apply in fact?

      • Richard Witty
        October 26, 2010, 8:08 pm

        The point about specifics is to prevent the imposition of an injustice to fight an injustice.

        Shunning of a people, on some racial grounds is substantively unjust, unless the boycott is directed at specific behaviors and/or policies.

        Whether the room thinks so is irrelevant. I have a number of important friends that are Israeli, that I don’t want to see shunned by careless dissent.

        I do want them to be motivated to reform Israeli policies, as most of them are, but shunned is a different question.

      • Citizen
        October 27, 2010, 7:35 am

        Let’s bring Witty’s principle back to basics: What is the terrorist founding of the state of Israel and Israel’s ever-expanding colonial settlements but a (very long) imposition of an injustice (on innocent Palestinians) to fight an injustice (done back in the 1940s by Europeans)?

      • tree
        October 27, 2010, 10:23 am

        Shunning of a people, on some racial grounds is substantively unjust, unless the boycott is directed at specific behaviors and/or policies.

        Ah, I forgot the vaunted Witty ability to look but not see, and listen but not hear.

        Sabra is being boycotted because of their support for the IDF. The IDF is certainly the main cog and enforcer of the occupation, and the Golani brigade has been responsible for many violations of Palestinian human rights.

        Tribe is being boycotted because of its connection to the JNF. The JNF, a quasi-governmental body in Israel, is responsible for the expropriation of Palestinian land, for the benefit of Jews only. (It is in its charter that it must only hold land in trust for the Jewish people, not for anyone else.) Can you NOT understand this?

        Since 1967, the JNF has been the essential partner of the Israeli government and the army in building the infrastructure of the Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – building Jewish-only roads and expanding Jewish settlements on stolen Palestinian land. Today its $600 million “Greening the Negev” project is forcing native Bedouins into seven urbanized Bantustans, destroying their traditional way of life and building Jewish-only suburban enclaves – complete with non-native green lawns and water-wasting sprinkler systems – where a desert community has existed for thousands of years.

        Both companies are being boycotted by PhillBDS because of their support for the occupation, not because of “some racial grounds”. Your post is ludicrously ignorant. I keep hoping for more intelligence and comprehension from you; at least you know how to consistently disappoint.

      • Richard Witty
        October 27, 2010, 11:18 pm

        Supporting the IDF is primarily supporting the defense of the Israeli state and community within Israel from many enemies without.

        I would consider it a war on Israel to seek to shun its ability to defend itself.

        The vagueness of the boycott on Tribe and Sabra (most products made in the US) makes it arbitrary.

        If it does not have anything to do specifically with abuses of Palestinians, I want nothing to do with the boycott.

        I will NOT boycott products just because they have Israeli shareholders or speak of support of the IDF in its marketing.

    • thankgodimatheist
      October 26, 2010, 8:35 pm

      “Or just Israeli?”

      That would be enough for me.

      • Colin Murray
        October 29, 2010, 7:31 pm

        It’s enough for me, too. When the government of Israeli by its allocation of state resources, e.g. infrastructure development, makes no distinction between Israel ‘proper’ and violent Jewish colonies in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, why should I?

  3. Les
    October 26, 2010, 4:45 pm

    If the Sabra and Tribe brands of hummus are as widely distributed in the US as I believe they are, this may mark a milestone of the bds movement.

  4. joer
    October 26, 2010, 5:09 pm

    I know I’m supposed to be all rah rah supportive of this protest, but I’m from Philly and it’s hard to imagine this event having much of an impact, even with the group aerobics out in front of the grocery store. First of all, living here, you develop a skill of ignoring this type of thing(and a lot of other things)and just going about your business. For most of the others, it’s not much more than an amusing distraction.

    So what do I suggest instead of chanting in a super market? For one thing, the protests should be led by Palestinians. They should be the face of the movement, although supporters should back them up. It should be less theatrical and more informational-let people know what the issues are without being seen as flakes. Probably informative picketing(with fact sheets given out)would be a better first step, so there would be at least a chance of shoppers knowing what the protest is about. It would be so lovely to see a Palestinian who has lived under occupation or as a second class citizen in Israel set someone straight who didn’t know the facts.

    • tree
      October 27, 2010, 10:25 am

      I think your critique makes sense. Information is what is so lacking about what is, and has been, happening to the Palestinians.

  5. RoHa
    October 26, 2010, 7:16 pm

    Both hummus and the chickpeas it is made from are Israeli inventions, of course.

    • Richard Witty
      October 26, 2010, 8:04 pm

      They don’t say that in slightest. They describe it as Mediterranean food.

      • RoHa
        October 26, 2010, 10:29 pm

        Don’t be dense. I’m taking the piss.

      • tree
        October 27, 2010, 10:32 am

        They describe it as Israeli “national food”. Since Israel insists that it must be considered the “Jewish State”, then it should not pretend that hummus, a food of Arab origin, is an Israeli “national food”. There’s a lesson to be had in there somewhere: ” We accept the food but not the humans who live here? We will expropriate your cuisine just like we expropriate your land?”

      • Richard Witty
        October 27, 2010, 11:21 pm

        If I say that western Massachusetts is my home, and that fresh sweet corn is MY regional food, is that saying that I expropriate the word “corn” from my indigenous neighbors?

    • Citizen
      October 27, 2010, 7:48 am

      Many of the foods often described as Jewish / Israeli are not unique to Jewish or Israeli culture. Stuffed cabbage, a traditional Jewish dish, is common in Eastern Europe, and in America–I grew up with it and I am not Jewish, nor did I live in or near a Jewish neighborhood as a youth. Blintzes and knishes are familiar to all Germans, not just Jewish ones, as I learned while being stationed in Germany for a time. Many of the dishes that make up the Israeli cuisine have been brought by immigrants from the countries of their origin. Thus, even though dishes such as couscous, felafel and shishlik are extraordinarily popular throughout the country, none of them can be considered “truly Israel.” Couscous, for example, originated in the Maghreb nations of North Africa; the roots of felafel are Egyptian; and shishlik first came from Turkey; its been a common street food in all of Germany for at least 60 years, just another option along with bratwurst, etc.

      • Citizen
        October 27, 2010, 7:53 am

        This is also true of the more modern (less tribal) versions of Judiasm, for example Reform Judiasm owes a great debt to Hegel.

  6. Seham
    October 26, 2010, 7:58 pm

    Loved it, been waiting to get home from work to watch it. It was worth the wait.

  7. Eva Smagacz
    October 27, 2010, 9:57 am

    BDS will become unstoppable when it will become hip: like refusal to wear real fur, or choosing to eat only free-range eggs.

    • MRW
      November 18, 2010, 4:16 pm

      You’re right, Eva. First it has to become known, which this video is helping to do, and then it will become unstoppable.

      The nice thing about Gen-Yers or Millennials, when they demonstrate, is that they dance and sing.

  8. MRW
    November 18, 2010, 4:16 pm

    I hope Trader Joes is next.

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