Princeton sees death of “Great Hummus Debate” after referendum fails

Gabriella Hoffman, Advertising Manager

After much deliberation, Princeton University students rejected a referendum that would have banned Sabra hummus from dining halls. Students who have tackled and successfully defeated divestment campaigns on their universities can find some temporarily solace with this development. As I pointed out on November 22nd, this call to boycott and ban Sabra hummus is a political ploy to undermine the state of Israel.

Known as Princeton’s “Great Hummus Debate,” the Sabra hummus referendum attracted attention from Fox Nation, the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and the Associated Press. What started off as a pointless war waged on the delicious dip escalated into a deciding moment in the fate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An article in the Daily Princetonian reports that the measure failed 1044 to 699, making note of the following.

If the referendum were approved, the USG would have recommend to Dining Services that an alternative brand of hummus be offered for sale at retail locations on campus.

This is seen as a victory for pro-Israel advocates, as the war waged on hummus proved to be divisive:

Tigers for Israel opposed the hummus referendum and the Center for Jewish Life cautioned students that “passage of the referendum would allow the referendum’s sponsors to make a strong political statement about Israel.” In a statement released Friday, CJL co-presidents Kerry Brodie ’12 and Mendy Fisch ’11 said, “We are proud that the Princeton student body defeated the referendum.”…“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,” they added.

The Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) sponsored this referendum to seek an alternative to Sabra hummus, citing The Strauss Group’s partial shareholdings in Sabra Dipping Company. The motive behind the group’s attacks originated in their belief that Sabra Dipping Company supports a brigade of the IDF that is “guilty of crimes against humanity.” Their intent is highlighted below:

The student group Princeton Committee on Palestine sponsored the referendum because The Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company, has publically and financially supported members of the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces. The brigade has been accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

This particular attack on Sabra hummus is seen as a pet project of the Philly BDS, which seeks to boycott, divest and bring sanctions against companies that support the Israeli Defense Forces. Essentially, this group seeks to condemn Israel and its powerful military forces by accusing them of human rights violations. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement is not exclusively tied to the U.S., similar campaigns can be found in Canada, as:

Well hummus is just the latest target in a long line of commercial and ideological boycotts targeted at the Israeli government. Not simply an American movement, Canadian students have also actively supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) campaign, which was initiated in 2005 with the intention of pressuring the Israeli government to “end its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and “[recognize] the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

Princeton University was not the only campus subject of recent BDS campaigns. DePaul University twiddled with a similar hummus ban referendum, although it failed to materialize.

With the continued rejection of BDS campaigns on college campuses, it is evident that students and their peers find this to be a pointless attack and something that is foolish to debate. Again, student governments should refrain from making statements on international relations. Leave the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the diplomats and experts. Now, eat your hummus in peace and hopefully people can focus on the real problem: Hamas.

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