Students at Princeton University this week voted down a referendum that would have allowed other brands besides Sabra to sell hummus in university stores.
The referendum was the brainchild of Philadelphia Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, a group that calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions of companies that support Israel. The Princeton Committee on Palestine submitted the referendum to the Undergraduate Student Government to remove Sabra hummus from the campus, but later resubmitted the request as a call to diversify available brands.
“We are proud that the Princeton student body defeated the referendum,” said Kerry Brodie and Mendy Fisch, co-presidents of the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton, in a statement sent to The Jewish Standard. “This is a victory for those who wish to foster open dialogue and honest discussion on campus. It is a victory for those who wish to continue to think, work, and act to achieve peace. We plan to continue our efforts to cultivate dialogue and discussion about the issues.
“We are ready to use this opportunity to look towards the future of our community,” the statement continued. “The results of this referendum show that Princeton is a rational campus where academic discourse is preferred over blanket boycotts. In our view, the efforts of the referendum’s sponsors were counterproductive. Reasonable people can, and should disagree about questions of Israeli policy. However, rather than furthering divisions about trivial issues, we hope to continue discussion and debate on matters of importance and to contribute to the search for a just and long-term solution to the conflict.”
The referendum, the students said, was “not simply about offering more hummus brands at the campus center, but that it was part of a larger plan to boycott an Israeli company because it made donations to its own country’s army.”
Strauss Group, the Israeli company that co-owns Sabra hummus, had reportedly removed support of the Israel Defense Forces from its English website in response to pressure from BDS. However, as on Friday, the company had the following on the site under the “Corporate Responsibility” section:
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.
A Facebook page rallying for Sabra on Princeton’s campus has attracted more than 2,400 followers.