UC Riverside removes Sabra hummus following student concern over connection to Israeli occupation

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The following press release was issued by UC Riverside SJP:

Riverside, CA (April 22, 2015)— University of California, Riverside (UCR) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) declare a major victory in their efforts to remove the Sabra hummus brand off the shelves after the University dining services introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus this spring quarter. The decision to remove the product was based on the passing of last years’ divestment resolution.

The school began selling Sabra hummus in fall of this academic year. This came as a surprise to the students seeing as how just a few months prior, the student senate passed a divestment resolution stating that the students of UCR do not want their tuition dollars going towards funding the occupation of Palestine. Since Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, is complicit in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine, students were very upset. The Strauss Group provides material and financial donations to two Israeli military units, the Golani and Givati brigades, which have been found by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have committed egregious violations of human rights and international law in Palestine.

After explaining in a letter to the heads of dining why students were upset with Sabra, they agreed to meet with us. During this meeting, dinning agreed to change the brand of hummus being served at the campus store, stating that the request was easy since there are so many alternative brands and that they don’t want to sell products that upset or offend any students on campus.

SJP President Tina Matar said, “I was surprised at how easy it was to change brands. Other schools had a much more difficult time so we thought we were going to have one too. We walked into that meeting expecting to be rejected, but to our pleasant surprise, they were very open to the idea.”

After our meeting, the transition from Sabra to the new brand, Tapaz2Go, was quick and smooth. Sabra came off the shelves, and Tapaz went up without a fuss.

SJP members say they are excited that the school listened and adhered to their concerns, bringing UCR one step closer to becoming a more socially responsible campus. This victory was not only a victory for SJP and their efforts to raise awareness about Israel’s occupation of Palestine, but it also paved the way for other student groups to bring up boycotts of their own on products.

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“stating that the request was easy since there are so many alternative brands and that they don’t want to sell products that upset or offend any students on campus.” Removing Sabra and Tribe brands is not “selling” anything, but the switcheroo WILL likely offend some students. Dining service cannot avoid… Read more »

Tribe brand. How appropriate.

Strategic success often depends on wise tactical choices. In this instance it seems that SJP elected to take a more low-key, targeted approach instead of the more typical high-publicity mass action route. This paid off with a quick success before the opposition could awaken and ramp up. Nicely done!

When there was the recall of Sabra Hummus, I looked at the articles on the recall, since the name made me suspect an Israeli connection. None of them mentioned any. But I see from this article that there very much is such a connection.

The divestment issue has come up at my own alma mater, Princeton. Princeton Is ‘Quiet Ivy’ No More as Raucous Israel Debate Roils.