Princeton University students will vote Wednesday on a referendum that would ask campus dining services to provide an alternative to Sabra hummus in university retail locations. The referendum, sponsored by the Princeton Committee on Palestine,
is part of a larger movement to boycott Sabra products on the basis that The Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company, supports the Israeli Defense Forces at large and its Golani Brigade in particular. Members of the Golani Brigade have been accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians.
Strauss is the second-largest Israeli food and beverage company in America. According to the Jerusalem Post:
Until recently, the Strauss Group affirmed its support for the IDF on its website under the banner of “Corporate Responsibility” with a statement that read: “Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and to sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.”
The Post says Strauss, under pressure from the Boycott Israel groups, has removed such endorsements of the IDF from its English website. Although not entirely: I found this link a moment ago, which takes you to the following under “Corporate Responsibility”:
Israel Defense Forces
As part of its donations program, the Sales Division of Strauss Israel has made a contribution to the men and women who serve in the Golani brigade. The funds are designated for welfare, cultural and educational activities, such as pocket money for underprivileged soldiers, sports and recreational equipment, care packages, and books and games for the soldiers’ club. Yotvata, our dairy in the south, contributes likewise to the southern Shualei Shimshon unit.
I suppose if I knew nothing about the BDS movement and assumed their goal was justice for the Palestinians and a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I might have some sympathy for their campaign. If they think the IDF supports an unjust policy, then maybe they’d be justified in shunning a company that provides those soldiers moral and physical support.
But make no mistake: Members of Philly BDS, which is behind the Sabra boycott, are not peaceniks, by any means. Here’s their platform, according to their own web site:
In 2005, Palestinian civil society representatives issued a call for global a [sic] boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel until Israel complies with international law by ending its occupation of Palestine lands, dismantling the “separation barrier” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, granting full and equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizing the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their country.
Notice that last line: “recognizing the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their country.” Not “their homes” or “their property.” Philly BDS, like many BDS proponents, supports a one-state solution — one Palestinian entity, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. Under their plan, the Palestinians get the West Bank, Gaza, and full citizenship within any portion of Israel to which they can establish a legal claim.
The “right of return” is a nonstarter when it comes to making peace, and not just because it will inevitably mean the demographic and symbolic end of a Jewish state. The “right of return” undermines the essential assumptions of those seeking peace on both sides: to create two states, side by side, and the separation that will allow each people to flourish without interference from the other.
Maybe Princeton students will want to send a message to Israel that will make it more flexible at the negotiating table. But they’ll be doing so at the behest of a movement that wants Israel to disappear.
How’s that taste?