Israeli Hummus Maker Succumbs to Boycott

  • November 18, 2010

3136464273_3fdfc131cd_bWhen we last checked in on the front lines of the international hummus wars, malady pro-Palestinian activists in Philadelphia were doing choreographed flash dances in a local supermarket selling hummus made by an Israeli corporation that proudly invests in the country’s special forces.

“No Justice! No (Chick)Peas!” they shouted, order calling for a boycott of the chickpea dip. That led pro-Israeli activists down the street to head to the same grocer and buy up tubs of hummus ‘in support of Israel’.

One does wonder, symptoms where’s the human rights in hummus?

Well, like duh, the first three letters are the same!

Beyond that incredibly meaningful little connection, the Philly activists took aim at The Strauss Group, Israel’s second largest food and beverage company and part owners of Sabra Dipping, the largest hummus manufacturer in the world. They argue that Sabra’s hummus products “subsidize Israeli human rights abuses through their support of the Israeli Defense Forces and infrastructure of the occupation.”

The Strauss Group supports elite Israeli army units accused of committing various human rights abuses. Most notable among them, The Strauss Group has proudly supported the Golani and Givati Brigades for over 30 years, “being there at the front to spoil them with our best products,” according to their website.

The Golani brigade is often in the news, accused of severe human rights abuses against Palestinian and Lebanese people, including an infamous 2005 incident in which a Golani officer was convicted of beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to dismember him. Yigal Amir, a far right Jewish extremist who assassinated former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was also a member of the Golani Brigade.

When Change.org wrote about the anti-Strauss Group flash dance last month, the following paragraph was found in an online description of the company’s corporate responsibility commitment:

In The Field With Soldiers: 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 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. We have also adopted the Southern Shualei Shimshon troops from the Givati platoon with the goal of improving their service conditions and being there at the front to spoil them with our best products.

Check the website today and there is no such paragraph… with one minor exception: the Hebrew language.

While The Strauss Group did succumb to the pressure and erase the above paragraph from the English description of their community involvement, they kept it word for word on their main Hebrew site.

Time to finish the job folks. The Strauss Group has extensive international operations and is clearly worried about the threat attention to their support of the Golani and Givati Brigades represents. Not worried enough, though, to actually drop their support for controversial Israeli army units, or to say the same thing in Hebrew as they do in English.

“Philly BDS is asking that Strauss Group clarify whether the removal of the references means that Strauss no longer supports the Golani brigade, or whether it is simply an acknowledgment that support for the Israeli military is no longer seen as beneficial to Strauss’s international image,” said Kate Zaidan, an activist with the flashdancing Philly group, in a statement.

Call on The Strauss Group to be clear, in both languages about their policy towards the Golani and Givati Brigades.

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