The abject failure of the government of Israel to uphold international law evidenced by institutionalizing and enforcing of policies of discrimination against Palestinians, emboldens my commitment to the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel until the demands of the 2005 BDS Call are met.
In response to this call for non-violent protest, a growing number of campaigns in the U.S. and internationally are boycotting settlement products and calling for divestment from companies that profit from the illegal occupation. Ending the occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands is consistent with the first demand in the Palestinian Call. But there are two additional demands – the demand for full equality of all people in Israel-Palestine and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, as enshrined in international law. Ending the occupation, while a prerequisite, is an insufficient criterion for justice for Palestinians.
In October, 2010, Philly BDS launched a consumer boycott campaign against Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus. Creating a Lady Gaga youtube video that went viral within days, and coining the slogan, “No Justice, No (Chick) Peas,” the appeal of the campaign was immediate, particularly on college campuses. Both Princeton and De Paul University organized similar campaigns, with De Paul having some initial success. Since then, there have been various hummus campaigns in South Florida, San Francisco, Australia, and Chicago. There is currently a hummus campaign in Boston that is gathering momentum. On the home front, Philly BDS remains strong, with support from Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, and several local faith-based communities who focus on not buying or serving Sabra and Tribe.
The consumer boycott against Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus supports the full BDS Call which requires that companies and institutions pay a price for their complicity in any and all policies that violate international law and the basic human rights of Palestinians, not just those that profit from the occupation. Strauss, a prominent Israeli corporation, like most Israeli companies, supports the Israeli Defense Force. The Golani and Givati Brigades receive support from Strauss under its Adopt a Warrior Program; these brigades have well documented incidents of human rights abuses against Palestinians. Think Operation Cast Lead. Or the t-shirt with the pregnant Muslim woman in the crosshair of the rifle that reads, “One shot, two kills.” Think racism. The IDF implements Israel’s policies of discrimination against Palestinians at checkpoints, through home demolitions, curfews, detentions, targeted assassinations, control over freedom of movement. Corporate complicity is exactly the point of the boycott of best-seller Sabra, the pride of Strauss.
Osem, the owner of Tribe Hummus, supports and partners with the Jewish National Fund, thereby making Osem complicit not only in the occupation but also well beyond. With its policies colonizing Palestinian lands which are then privileged for Jewish-only use, the JNF is among the bureaucratic mechanisms that institutionalize and make legal the apartheid system of land ownership within Israel. Think Bedouins, the destruction of their villages. “Greening the Negev” is apartheid.
Yes, the boycott of Sabra hummus and Tribe hummus is targeting Israel by targeting the apartheid character of the Jewish state and the infrastructure of occupation. Laws that privilege Jews and maintain the Jewish character of the Jewish nation prevent Israel from being a democracy, a state of equality under the law for all its citizens. These laws and the institutions that weave them into the fabric of Israeli society fit the definition of crimes of apartheid as documented in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, Article II. For the system of Israeli apartheid to unravel, support must be withdrawn from companies and institutions that are complicit in these virulent policies.
Some people have retirement funds, brew bubbly seltzer, and use cosmetics; many enjoy eating hummus. The “No Justice No (Chick) Peas” campaign offers a friendly way to engage in the more difficult conversation about injustice in Palestine and the three rights-based demands of the boycott call. Hummus is a staple on college campuses, at social events, and in many homes, making the connection between our daily lives with the hyper-militarization and racism of Israeli society. Both Strauss support of the Golani and Givati Brigades and Osem support for the Jewish National Fund together tell the story of Israel as an apartheid state.
The point must be made that there is a difference between participating in settlement boycott campaigns because one shies away from the bigger project of BDS (beyond ending the occupation), and using such campaigns in service of the larger BDS call. Context and politics factor into the choice of a target for a BDS campaign. There is no one size fits all. What matters is that BDS campaigns set goals that can be attained. And that each campaign has its place in the global BDS movement.
Hosting a house party to encourage a boycott of settlement products? Invite me! Don’t serve Sabra hummus or Tribe hummus. Support the movement on college campuses, in supermarkets, on street corners, and on social media making the case for the consumer boycott of Sabra hummus and Tribe hummus.