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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.

Mondoweiss Editors

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11 Responses

  1. pabelmont on April 29, 2015, 2:04 pm

    “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 offending someone. Battle is not without wounds and injuries. BDS is battle. merely non-violent.

  2. Qualtrough on April 29, 2015, 11:25 pm

    Tribe brand. How appropriate.

  3. Boo on April 30, 2015, 8:49 am

    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!

  4. lysias on April 30, 2015, 11:12 am

    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.

    • DaBakr on April 30, 2015, 3:03 pm

      and for a good while, many consumers assumed that the ‘competing’ Tribe brand hummus was from Lebanese origin. I only know this from a visit to the states when a young bedouin who owned small take-out told me “Tribe is much better then Sabra”. I only found out recently that the parent company owns both. What I don’t know is if the owners always owned Tribe, and if they did-was the story about the Lebanese angle spread buy mistake or by marketing strategy?

      My earlier comment about bids was moderated but in reality-I don’t think boycotts of niche products like hummus accomplish much of anything except possibly for more media attention.

      Apparently-the moderators here did not like the pointing out of BDS org. own mission statement acknowledging that they can not boycott every single Israeli product (very easy to surmise which ones) without severely curtailing the way they spread their message.

      • Boo on April 30, 2015, 8:37 pm

        Symbolic action can nevertheless yield powerful results. Way back in 1967, the Berrigan brothers and two others splashed chicken blood on Selective Service (draft board) records to protest the Vietnam War. This action became iconic in the anti-Vietnam movement — not the less so because Berrigan was sentenced to six years in the Federal pen. (Yes, symbolic actions can scare the hell out of the Powers That Be.)

        In another such action, thousands of protestors encircled the Pentagon with a human chain and chanted mantras to levitate the building in the name of peace. Needless to say, it budged nary an inch. But the symbolic point was made — big time.

        Splashing chicken blood on a few records, and chanting mantras, didn’t affect the conduct of the war one bit. But the effects of actions like these snowballed, and the tide of public opinion began to turn against the war. Mind you, this was forty years before Facebook and Twitter; things happen more quickly now, the tipping point is reached much faster.

        Never discount the power of symbolic action.

      • DaBakr on April 30, 2015, 9:56 pm


        i would say that American societies growing discontent with the war in SE Asia was part of a huge US (and somewhat mirrored by Europe except there it was much more socialist and political) TYhe symbolic actions of the more radical war protesters did help move the middle Americans in that the young white and mostly middle class kids embraced the radical movement as part of their more supercilious cultural experiment with anti-authority.
        I just don’t see American society get worked up about the endless ME conflict the way they did about Vietnam- and one of the biggest reasons is that then US bodies were coming home in the 1000s and all walks of Americans felt the hurt -even if the burden was born much more accutely by Black American youths.

        Ask a twenty/thirty something who the Berrigan brothers* are and I will bet you’ll draw a big blank.

        *and the many nuns who are mostly forgotten (no sexism there?) who did as much or more time then the two brothers.

      • jimby on May 2, 2015, 6:24 pm

        @ DaBakr- you are missing a very big point. The Vietnam War was ended after the average American came to realize how much it cost to him/her personally. I easily foresee the same happening in the Middle East. More and more I hear just get out of there! Let them work it out. The cost of the wars in the ME is enormous and the body bags is not such a big thing as you might think.
        I think that Bibi’s Washington Follies is opening a lot of eyes. Just wait a year or two and you will see that Americans in general really don’t give a rats ass about Israel and wait until they see the bill..

  5. lysias on April 30, 2015, 11:13 am

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

    • Les on April 30, 2015, 1:41 pm

      Thanks for the link.

      Unfortunalely bds lost 52.5%–47.5% in a vote of the entire student body.

      An impressive resolution that is likely to be picked up elsewhere,

      divest from “multinational corporations that maintain the infrastructure of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, facilitate Israel’s and Egypt’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or facilitate state repression against Palestinians by Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian Authority security.”

  6. Les on April 30, 2015, 1:40 pm

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