The University of California, Riverside. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

UC Riverside student government votes to remove Sabra hummus from dining service

The student government at the University of California, Riverside, unanimously voted to approve a resolution calling for the removal of Sabra brand hummus from campus dining services.

The resolution passed last week in a 13-0 vote with one abstention. The resolution is not enforceable, and the UC Riverside administration says it has no plans to remove the hummus.

The removal was requested because the Sabra company’s joint owner is the Israel-based Strauss Group, which allegedly supports the Israeli military. The campus organization Students for Justice in Palestine backed the resolution.

“Sabra Dipping Company is owned by two independent global food companies — PepsiCo, based in the U.S., and Strauss Group, which is headquartered in Israel,” Sabra spokeswoman Ilya Welfeld said in a statement issued to the local NBC affiliate.

“Each company is a separate entity and independent company,” she said, adding that Sabra has “no political positions or affiliations.”

In 2015, the campus dining service removed Sabra hummus after being approached by the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on campus. Tapaz2Go hummus, from Mediterranean Snacks, briefly replaced Sabra, but Sabra hummus was restored after the university realized that a political position was an underlying political position for its removal.

In March 2014, the school’s student government passed a resolution urging administrators to divest from Israel, but rescinded it the following month.

DePaul University briefly stopped offering Sabra hummus in 2011 before reinstating it, and a year earlier, students at Princeton University voted on the issue. In neither case was Sabra hummus permanently removed from the campus dining facilities.

DePaul University administration approves Sabra hummus

The Sabra brand of hummus will continue to be served in cafeterias on the campus of DePaul University in Chicago.

The university administration made the decision, announced Monday, following a recommendation of the university’s Fair Business Practices committee and following a nonbinding student referendum last week.

The Sabra brand of the chickpea dip had been served until last November, when the pro-Palestinian student group Students for Justice in Palestine objected because Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group. Strauss has publicly supported the Israel Defense Forces troops, and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israel’s Golani and Givati brigades.

The DePaul food service had suspended selling Sabra hummus, even though the request did not go through the Fair Business Practices Committee, as is customary. The brand was reinstated pending the committee’s decision.

“While we recognize the original complaint made by DePaul students arose from genuine concerns surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the judgment of the Fair Business Practices Committee there do not appear to be sufficient grounds for a boycott of Sabra Hummus, primarily because the committee did not find evidence that the Strauss Group provides direct military support for units within the Israeli Defense Forces,” the committee concluded.

The student referendum on banning Sabra hummus completed last week ran 1,127 in favor and 332 against, but was deemed invalid since fewer than 1,500 students on a campus of more than 20,000 students voted on the issue.

Students for Justice in Palestine said they will continue the fight against Sabra hummus.

In a statement issued to the university community, DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider said that “I am well aware that these concerns were raised with good faith and honorable intentions. I’m proud of all our students at DePaul and very glad that they would fight on behalf of justice as they see and understand the issues at hand.”

The statement also said, “I ask that we continue to seek ways to support a lasting peace in this troubled and important part of the world.”

Princeton hummus vote seen as part of BDS drive

Princeton students are voting on whether to ask the university’s dining services to provide an alternative brand of hummus.

The campaign to allow other brands besides Sabra in university stores reportedly is the brainchild of Philly BDS, which calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against companies that support the Israel Defense Forces.

Sabra is half-owned by The Strauss Group, which has publicly supported the IDF and provides care packages and sports equipment to Israeli soldiers.

The referendum was placed Monday on a United Student Government ballot. The voting will conclude Wednesday, according to the Daily Princetonian student newspaper.

The Princeton Committee on Palestine, which is led by Yoel Bitran, an American-born Jewish student who moved to Chile and returned to the U.S. to attend Princeton, initiated the referendum.

DePaul University in Chicago recently halted sales of Sabra products, according to the Princetonian.