Nov 30, 2010

#BDS: DePaul SJP responds to reinstatement of Sabra and pending Committee review

Two weeks ago, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at DePaul University called on campus administrators to suspend the sale of Sabra hummus products after revealing the company’s involvement in the financial and material support of the Israeli military. The University immediately signed on, abiding by its Vincentian values and removing the product from campus food and dining facilities. Days later, however, the administration was pressured into reinstating the Sabra products pending review by the university’s Fair Business Practices Committee.
The opposition quickly regarded this as a substantial defeat to the campaign designed to promote divestment from companies complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. SJP has since responded with a public statement denouncing the reinstatement of Sabra hummus while also calling on DePaul’s administration to permanently extend the suspension of Sabra sales.

#BDS: Hummus matters

The famous civil rights leader Cesar Chavez once said, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” Over the last few weeks, there has been much controversy over the Princeton Committee on Palestine’s call for Princeton students to personally boycott Sabra hummus and our campaign for a referendum asking the University to offer alternative brands in its retail locations. Initially, most of the criticism claimed that this project was trivial and that we should focus on more important things. However, after significant national and international media coverage and a huge opposition effort that included an attempt to stop the referendum from happening altogether, I think we can at least agree on one thing: This is important, and it isn’t just about hummus.

We decided to target Sabra because of its association with human rights violations. The Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company, has in the past publicly “adopted” the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces and provides its members with financial support.Wednesday’s editorial by The Daily Princetonian said that these concerns are “overblown” because this support “has no tangible effect on the unit’s actions” and because there is no “direct link” between Sabra and the actions of the Golani Brigade. The editorial board has a right to express its opinion on when a product is sufficiently involved in human rights abuses to merit asking for alternatives. Nonetheless, these arbitrary prerequisites miss the point. Indeed, although the money we pay for a package of Sabra hummus could be going directly into the pockets of members of an illegal occupation force known for its brutality against innocent Palestinians, that is not even the main issue.

#BDS: All I want for Christmas is an end to apartheid – Top ten brands to boycott

While there are many Israeli and multinational companies that benefit from apartheid, we put together this list to highlight ten specific companies to target. Many of these produce goods in such a way that directly harms Palestinians — exploiting labor, developing technology for military operations, or supplying equipment for illegal settlements. Many are also the targets of boycotts for other reasons, like harming the environment and labor violations.
  1. AHAVA
    This brand’s cosmetics are produced using salt, minerals, and mud from the Dead Sea — natural resources that are excavated from the occupied West Bank. The products themselves are manufactured in the illegal Israeli settlement Mitzpe Shalem. AHAVA is the target of CODEPINK’s “Stolen Beauty” campaign.
  2. Delta Galil Industries
    Israel’s largest textiles manufacturer provides clothing and underwear for such popular brands as Gap, J-Crew, J.C. Penny, Calvin Klein, Playtex, Victoria’s Secret (see #10) and many others. Its founder and chairman Dov Lautman is a close associate of former Israeli President Ehud Barak. It has also been condemned by Sweatshop Watch for its exploitation of labor in other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.
  3. Motorola
    While many of us know this brand for its stylish cellphones, did you know that it also develops and manufactures bomb fuses and missile guidance systems? Motorola components are also used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”) and in communications and surveillance systems used in settlements, checkpoints, and along the 490 mile apartheid wall. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched the “Hang Up on Motorola” campaign.
  4. L’Oreal / The Body Shop
    This cosmetics and perfume company is known for its investments and manufacturing activities in Israel, including production in Migdal Haemek, the “Silicon Valley” of Israel built on the land of Palestinian village Al-Mujaydil, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948. In 1998, a representative of L’Oreal was given the Jubilee Award by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for strengthening the Israeli economy.
  5. Dorot Garlic and Herbs
    These frozen herbs that are sold at Trader Joe’s are shipped halfway around the world when they could easily be purchased locally. Trader Joe’s also sells Israeli Cous Cous and Pastures of Eden feta cheese that are made in Israel. QUIT, South Bay Mobilization, and other groups have targeted Trader Joe’s with a “Don’t Buy into Apartheid” campaign.
  6. Estee Lauder
    This company’s chairman Ronald Lauder is also the chairman of the Jewish National Fund, a quasi-governmental organization that was established in 1901 to acquire Palestinian land and is connected to the continued building of illegal settlements. Estee Lauder’s popular brands include Clinique, MAC, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, fragrance lines for top designers, and many others. They have been the target of QUIT’s “Estee Slaughter Killer Products” campaign.
  7. Intel
    This technology company that manufactures computer processors and other hardware components employs thousands of Israelis and has exports from Israel totaling over $1 billion per year. They are one of Israel’s oldest foreign supporters, having established their first development center outside of the US in 1974 in Haifa. Al-Awda (the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition) has urged action against Intel for building a facility on the land of former village Iraq Al Manshiya, which was cleansed in 1949.
  8. Sabra
    This brand of hummus, baba ghanoush and other foods is co-owned by Israel’s second-largest food company The Strauss Group and Pepsico. On the “Corporate Responsibility” section of its website, The Strauss Group boasts of its relationship to the Israeli Army, offering food products and political support.
  9. Sara Lee
    Sara Lee holds a 30% stake in Delta Galil (see #2) and is the world’s largest clothing manufacturer, which owns or is affiliated with such brands as Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Sara Lee Bakery, Ball Park hotdogs, Wonderbra, and many others. Similar to L’Oreal (see #4), a representative of Sara Lee received the Jubilee Award from Netanyahu for its commitment to business with Israel.
  10. Victoria’s Secret
    Most of Victoria’s Secret’s bras are produced by Delta Galil (see #2), and much of the cotton is also grown in Israel on confiscated Palestinian land. Victoria’s Secret has also been the target of labor rights’ groups for sourcing products from companies with labor violations, and by environmental groups for their unsustainable use of paper in producing their catalogues. That’s not sexy!
Remember, it’s also important to let these companies — and the stores that sell them — know that we will not support them as long as they support Israeli apartheid!

#BDS:Campuses work to further the BDS movement

The apartheid situation in South Africa ended in the 1990s in large part because of boycotts on college campuses, and many scholars have argued that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is the most effective way for ending the current blockade and occupation of Palestine by Israeli military forces.
The BDS movement against companies with Israeli ties has been active at American campuses in recent weeks in response to desperate pleas from human rights organizations, the United Nations, and world political leaders to end the occupation.
Sabra hummus removed after divestment push
On November 19, Chicago's DePaul University announced that their dining services organization would discontinue the sale of hummus made by Sabra, an Israeli brand that students have said is known for its vocal and material support of the Israeli army, which has been accused of numerous war crimes in Gaza by the U.N. The products were removed from store shelves for the rest of the semester with a ban likely in the near future according to the Huffington Post.
DePaul's Students for Justice in Palestine organization provided research that the Strauss Group, which co-owns Sabra hummus, had direct monetary ties with Israeli forces that continue to enforce the illegal occupations of Palestinian land.
The boycott is being used as a blueprint for how to effect change at the college level from the ground up.
Sabra hummus is also the target of a boycott launched by The Princeton Committee on Palestine at Princeton University in New Jersey as the group has created a referendum asking the school's dining services to sell an alternative brand of hummus.

#BDS: Princeton students vote on alternate hummus brands

PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton University students voted Monday in a referendum by a pro-Palestine student group on whether to expand the school's hummus offerings.
The student group Princeton Committee for Palestine wants university-run stores to offer alternative brands of the Middle Eastern chickpea dip because they say the only brand available is linked to human rights violations.
The brand, Sabra, is owned by PepsiCo and Strauss Group, and Strauss' website says it supports members of the Israeli military.
The group has been pushing for the university to boycott and get rid of its investments in companies that make donations to parts of the Israeli military that it says violate human rights.
Ilya Welfeld, a spokeswoman for Sabra, which has headquarters in Queens, N.Y., and Richmond, Va., said Sabra only makes donations in North America — and none of them are political.
But the Strauss Group, an Israeli food conglomerate, says on its website that it makes contributions for the "welfare, cultural and educational activities" of members of the Israeli military.
Students seeking the referendum made it happen by collecting 200 signatures. If the effort is successful, it would mean the student government would make a formal request to the Ivy League school's administration to provide additional brands of hummus.
The pro-Israel student group Tigers of Israel opposes the referendum. The group says the allegations raised by the other side are sketchy.
The results of the vote are scheduled to be released Friday.
The referendum was originally scheduled for last week but was canceled then because of a goof: The wording called for Sabra hummus not to be offered at university stores rather than for additional products to be sold, too.