Jewish Organizations Publicly Support SJP DePaul Campaign to Boycott Sabra Hummus

by Shirien D.

The campaign to boycott Sabra hummus products at DePaul University led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has gained quite a bit of media attention. Not surprisingly, there have been many attempts by Zionists to vilify the campaign, falsely portraying it as dirty ploy to undermine Israel or creating an environment at DePaul that harms dialogue between Jews and Muslims. Some have gone even further off the rocker by claiming the general boycott of products that support Israeli occupation is anti-Semitic.

These accusations are made in order to shift attention away from the human rights issues at hand. Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, financially supports two elite factions of the Israeli military, the Golani and Givati brigades, which have been charged with countless violations of international law (for examples, see SJP’s public statement against Sabra).

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

The campaign is not in any way antithetical to the Jewish people, who have a long history of fighting racism and injustice. It goes without saying, that many, many Jews are in support of the boycott against Sabra, as well as other Israeli products that support the infrastructure of occupation. In fact, Yoel Gabriel Bitran, a Chilean Jew, started his own campaign against Sabra hummus at Princeton. Additionally, the Chicago chapters of International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP) recently sent letters to DePaul officials in support of SJP DePaul’s campaign against Sabra (Read Below).

Jews standing up in solidarity with Palestine are squashing Zionists’  inaccurate characterizations of the campaign as anti-Semitic. So please, Zionists, stop the over-used and simplistic rhetoric. Try coming up with more sophisticated talking points, or even better, try actually addressing all of the concerns we have with Israel’s human rights issues.

Dear Fr. Holtschneider, President and Scott Kelley, Head of the Fair Business Practices Committee ,

We, members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s Chicago Chapter, write to congratulate you on the brave and important step the University took in removing Sabra hummus from its shelves. We are saddened to hear that this policy has since been changed. Sabra hummus has no place on our campuses or in our communities.

As Jews outraged by the actions of the state of Israel, we feel it is important to offer our perspective and dispel any notions that Israel acts on behalf of Jews or that all Jews support Israel. Our perspective is based in a long cultural history that pre-dates Zionism of Jews struggling for equality for all people.  As Jews of conscience we condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel: from the strangulation of Gaza, to the daily harassment meted out at checkpoints in the West Bank, to the demolition of houses in East Jerusalem and the repression of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In response to decades of abuses, Palestinian civil society, including 170 grassroots organizations (all
major unions, over 100 non-profits), called for a boycott of Israeli products until Israel’s policy is in line with international law.

Boycott is a legitimate strategy for challenging states which deny basic protections to and  systematically violate the rights of a portion of their inhabitants on the basis of ethnicity, as Israel does
and was essential to ending racial Apartheid in South Africa, to which the situation in Israel/Palestine has been compared by such notables as Rev. Desmond Tutu and Jewish Minister Ronni Kasrils.

Boycott in no way precludes dialogue; however, dialogue cannot serve as an excuse for allowing injustice to continue.  While dialogue is a very important tool for getting people with different experiences to be able to communicate, Palestinians subject to Israeli occupation do not have the luxury of dialogue when the Israeli army uses white phosphorus in Gaza or their economic means are expropriated by Israel’s Apartheid Wall.

Sabra hummus is an especially pertinent target for boycott because of its proud support of the Golani brigade, a section of the Israeli army that was identified by Ha’aretz as notorious for human rights abuses perpetrated against Palestinians and has been on the front lines of Israel’s belligerent and egregious actions in the West Bank and military assaults on southern Lebanon and Gaza.  An Israeli group of former soldiers, “Breaking the Silence,” has documented several instances when the Golani Brigade participated in the violation of Palestinian human rights. Members of the Golani brigade filmed
themselves making a captive, blindfolded Palestinian sing sexual songs and songs about the Golani Brigade. In December, 2005 a Golani Brigade officer was convicted for beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to castrate him.  We have no business supporting a company that boasts about its support of this brigade.

In their letter, Hillel suggests that dating the occupation back to 1948 is the equivalent of delegitimizing Israel. What delegitimizes Israel is its treatment of Palestinians. Of even more concern, at the end of their letter Hillel attempts to paint this as an issue between Muslims and Jews. This is patently false; it is an issue between people who are concerned about Palestinian human rights (Christians, Muslims and Jews) and people who want to excuse Israel’s violations and/or silence any mention of them.

In Chicago, DePaul has the option to offer local alternatives. Why offer hummus that supports apartheid when there are other options?

We ask that DePaul University demonstrate its commitment to human rights and racial justice by reinstating their policy of refusing to sell Sabra hummus.


Members of the Chicago Chapter of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Dear DePaul Community:

JVP-Chicago supports SJP efforts to end the sale of Sabra products at DePaul.  For the past decade JVP-Chicago has worked to end the occupation of Palestinian lands and the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians by Israel.  We call for non-violent pressure on both U.S. and Israeli corporations and institutions which that aid or profit from that oppression.

As SJP documents, the Strauss Group – parent company of Sabra – “…provides vocal and material support to Israeli military practices that stand in direct contravention to international and human rights law…The Strauss Group maintains a direct material relationship with the Israeli military, particularly providing two elite Israeli brigades with financial support and care packages.”  These brigades have been accused of numerous human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories.

JVP-Chicago rejects any notion that the SJP campaign to hold Strauss to account is hostile toward Jews or Jewish DePaul students.   Our Jewish values demand opposition to injustice by any party and we join with those who seek a just and peaceful resolution in the Middle East.   We hope that DePaul students, faculty and administration will be allies in this effort.

Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago

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