DePaul students vote by large margin to ban Sabra hummus

Students at DePaul University in Chicago voted by a large margin in a referendum asking if they support ending sales of Sabra brand hummus on their campus. Due to a technicality, however, the result will not be binding. A note received by The Electronic Intifada from campus activists with Students for Justice in Palestine at the university announced today the results of voting that took place earlier this week:

Results of the referendum: 1127 voted in favor; 332 voted against ; 8 extraneous write ins. To be valid a referendum must have a turnout of no less than 1500 students. Although we had an amazing win, the referendum is not valid as we were 33 votes short. But this isn’t over. SJP will make a statement about what’s next for the campaign.

The referendum question on the ballot was:

“Sabra, which currently supplies hummus to the DePaul cafeteria, is co-owned by the Strauss Group. The Strauss group provides financial support and supplies to the Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli military, which have been found by the United Nations to be violators of human rights. Are you in favor of replacing Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus?”

Earlier this month, students supporting the ban explained in a video and accompanying statement the rationale for their campaign:

Founded in 1986 as Sabra-Blue & White Foods, the company was sold to Israeli food manufacturer the Strauss Group in 2005, a corporation known for its explicit support for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), namely the elite Golani and Givati infantry brigades. Although the IDF itself has a long history of violating international law, the Golani and Givati Brigades, since 1948, have been notorious for their severe human rights abuses in Lebanon and Palestine. The brigades have recently attracted attention for their atrocious war crimes during Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza that killed over 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children, most of whom were unarmed civilians. The Strauss Group’s active support for the Golani and Givati brigades is an active endorsement of egregious violations of human rights. We call on all people of conscience to boycott Sabra and all other products manufactured by Israeli corporations that support the State of Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and occupation of the Palestinian people. It’s time to pressure Israel to comply with international law. Let’s boycott!

In a similar and widely-publicized referendum late last year, students at Princeton University defeated a referendum calling for an alternative to Sabra hummus in campus dining facilities by a vote of 1,014 to 699.

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Comments

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I am not opposed to a referendum. But by any standard of fairness, the question would lead almost anyone to vote for replacing the brand. This is like a referendum against gay marriage that says: Gays have higher HIV and are spreading disease throughout the population and have been found to be killing children. Should we ban them?" The referendum should have been worded in a neutral way providing information from both sides of the conflict so voters can make an informed decision.

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I don't believe it's possible to word such a motion in a neutral fashion. To balance the activities of the Golani Brigades you would have to tell lies.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.