Oberlin College group tries to ban Sabra hummus from campus

By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

A pro-Palestinian student group at Oberlin College wants to knock a popular hummus brand off campus shelves for its ties to Israel.

A petition created April 17 by Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine states Sabra hummus is partly owned by the Strauss Group, a foods manufacturer that the students allege financially supports the Golani Brigade of the Israeli armed forces.

Students claim the company sends personal care packages to the Israel Defense Forces and provides soldiers with food for training or missions.

The petition says the Strauss Group, in a 2017 financial report, calls itself an “authorized supplier to the Ministry of Defense.” The petition also calls out defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who in early April responded to the deaths of Gazan protesters at the hands of Israeli soldiers by declaring that “there are no innocents in Gaza.”

Boycotting Sabra is part of a broader call to target companies complicit in Israeli policies “which violate international law and the basic human rights of Palestinians,” the petition states.

The Oberlin College group was inspired by the Swarthmore Students for Justice Palestine, a student organization at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania that spearheaded the movement.

According to the petition, the spread is sold at DeCafe, a market located in Wilder Hall that features salads, wraps, sandwiches, smoothies, and coffee.

DeCafe has previously removed the dip from its stock on request, but began selling it again after receiving complaints.

“As Oberlin students rooted in a tradition of social justice and solidarity, we do not want our money to support the occupation of Palestine – no matter how small the amount,” the petition states.

“…The mass student movement for conscientious purchasing and social justice is more powerful than any attempts to derail Palestinian solidarity activism. No snack is worth the moral cost of complicity in oppression.”

Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine did not return requests for comment.

An anonymous counter-petition was started at www.savethehummus.com and advertised on Snapchat, a multimedia messaging application.

The second petition demands that Oberlin College keep Sabra hummus fully-stocked and available for all students, faculty, staff, and guests.

“Campus dining’s job is to serve students and faculty meals, not politicize our snacks through a hateful boycott,” it states.

Oberlin College has not commented on either petition.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame