A pro-Palestinian campus group at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania is demanding that the school’s president immediately stop serving Sabra Hummus in three different on-campus stores because the company has ties to Israel.
The group Swarthmore Students for Justice Palestine (SJP) has begun circulating a petition that openly calls for support in demanding that Swarthmore immediately cut all ties with the Sabra company, and presumably replace its hummus with another brand that isn’t supportive of the political nation-state of Israel.
The petition explains that Sabra is owned by the Strauss Group, a multinational corporation “that invests in, financially supports, and even sends care packages to the Golani Brigade of the Israeli armed forces,” which it says is a “particularly brutal” Zionist faction that “has carried out countless human rights violations against Palestinians in Hebron, including arbitrary murders, assaults, incarcerations, evictions, and arrests of children.”
For Swarthmore to continue supporting Sabra would be “morally unacceptable,” and the pro-Palestinian students that are demanding the company’s departure from campus insist that not doing so is contributing to “international human rights violations” being committed not only by the Golani Brigade, but also by other groups in Israel that are fomenting, “Apartheid at large.”
“…by selling Sabra, Swarthmore is an accessory to the occupation of Palestine,” the petition states in no uncertain terms, adding that Swarthmore’s president, Valerie Smith, needs to immediately “affirm the dignity of Palestinian life, recognize the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and deshelve all current Sabra products and end their future sale at Swarthmore College.”
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So far, more than 350 members of the Swarthmore community have signed on to the petition, according to a recent tweet by Swarthmore SJP. In addition, the Swarthmore SJP has received multiple letters of support from other campus organizations, including the Swarthmore African American Student Society (SASS), the Swarthmore Indigenous Students Association (SISA), the LatinX Students Organization (ENLACE), the Interfaith Center Interns, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and the Swarthmore Queer Union (SQU).
Members of SQU in particular couldn’t help themselves in tacking on their own short list of grievances against Sabra, of course only after hearing about SJP’s. According to Campus Reform, the SQU group was quick to state that it, too, wants Sabra removed from Swarthmore because “queer and trans liberation cannot take place without Palestinian liberation as well.”
ENLACE flat-out called for a boycott of all Sabra products, writing in its letter that its members are calling “upon friends and families to no longer buy Sabra Hummus products. Perhaps not surprisingly, all of this hoo-ha by SJP and its allies has been met with opposition from Swarthmore Students for Israel (SSI), which is calling the effort discriminatory and intolerant.
“We, Swarthmore Students for Israel, firmly denounce the recent efforts to ban Sabra products from being sold on Swarthmore’s campus,” wrote SSI in a post on the group’s Facebook page. “The BDS movement is an effectively antisemitic (sic) movement which seeks to delegitimize and ultimately eliminate the State of Israel.”
Speaking to Campus Reform directly, SSI Vice President Rebekah Katz reiterated the group’s position that the Sabra attack and boycott represents anti-Semitic tactics by the pro-Palestinians, “regardless of [how] anyone attempts to frame it,” noting that the real goal of the effort, in her opinion, “is rooted in the destruction of the State of Israel.”
“We are hopeful that President Smith and the Swarthmore Administration recognizes the danger in acquiescing to a BDS demand, and the hostile environment it creates for Jewish students both present and prospective,” she added.
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