Students Against Israeli Apartheid boycott Sabra hummus to create discussion
Senior Tareq Radi is often stopped by students as he walks through North Plaza and the Johnson Center with Palestine’s flag in his hands. It’s his way of spreading awareness for Palestinians.
“A lot of times when we’re outside just having the Palestinian flag,” Radi said. “Even coming up here [in the Johnson Center] people see me they’re like, ‘Hey, can I talk to you? I want to join.’”
Radi is the vice president of SAIA an organization representing the pro-Palestinian movement to delegitimize Israel. SAIA acts in accordance to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement which has a three-point plan, including:
- Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194
“It takes a human rights-based approach so the first call is to end the occupation—so you know the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and the next one is to tear down the apartheid wall,” Radi said, adding that the last one is “the right of return for all refugees.”
SAIA has started by boycotting Sabra brand hummus on campus. Sabra has been affiliated with a company accused of giving money to Israeli forces.
Sophomore Miranda Lapides, co-president of Israel Student Association, believes that the boycott will hurt more than it will help.
“This boycott is an attempt at a boycott divestment sanction (BDS) movement, which has largely failed because its only goal is to delegitimize the state of Israel—it is not for peace,” Lapides said in an email. “The Israel Student Association wants a peaceful future for Israeli and Palestinian children to live as neighbors, not enemies. This is an attempt to grab people’s attention and spread propaganda.”
Radi noted that the purpose of the boycott is to create pro-Palestine attention.
“The boycott, we’re using that as a vessel to explain to people because then they say, ‘What are you guys doing’ and I can get you and say ‘Hey, let’s talk about this,’” Radi said.
Sabra hummus is partially owned by Strauss Group, which SAIA and the BDS movement claim support the Golani and Govati Brigade in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In an article published by Forbes Magazine in January of 2011, the chairwoman of Strauss Group stated the company’s support of the IDF.
“For us, Israeli soldiers are not army; Israeli soldiers are our kids,” Ofra Strauss said to Forbes Magazine. “And when children of this country are in need, we will be there. Any boycott on our product is [a vote] against all the good things that we do.”
Redi noted that the boycott’s purpose is not to create an economic problem. He also said that is not the direct way to fix any problems in Palestine but rather a means to get people’s attention about the topic.
“Boycotting is not about economic pressure,” Redi said. “It’s a delegitimization campaign. It’s a way for exposure. It’s a vessel to spread truth that the western media doesn’t show. Most of the world has been silent.”
SAIA has been in various places on campus asking students and faculty to sign their petition to eliminate Sabra hummus from campus. They have a paper petition as well as an online petition.
“The goal is once we have a lot [of signatures] to show, like the campus is, we’re not, we don’t want to be complicit with this,” Radi said.
At this time, there have been no attempts to open dialogue between SAIA and ISA.