By Brittany Murdock, Staff Writer
Guilford College’s Dining service, Meriwether Godsey, purchases the Sabra Hummus cups you may have seen in the Grill. These small, to-go cups are being boycotted by several groups on campus.
Sabra Hummus is jointly owned by PepsiCo and the Strauss Corporation. The Strauss Corporation is an Israeli food company who monetarily funds the Golani Brigade, an infantry unit of the Israeli Defense Force. The Golani Brigade has been accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians living in the West Bank.
Several groups on campus, including Students For Justice in Palestine, Sexual Assault Awareness and Advocacy, and Students Allied Against Privilege and Supremacy, believe Guilford should divest from Sabra Hummus due to its financial entanglements with the Golani Brigade.
“I would be disappointed if Guilford didn’t divest,” said sophomore SAAPS Member Alexandra Haridopolos. “This is something that is so in line with our core values. This is a political issue but at the end of the day, human rights violations are being committed.”
Guilford College’s Dining service, Meriwether Godsy, is willing to support the students’ decision.
“We understand the issue and we are sympathetic about it, but before we take an active role, we need community support that suggest more than 20% of the community agrees,” said Snehal Deshmukh, the director of Dining Services at Guilford.
“I would support divesting from Sabra Hummus,” said sophomore Logan Hardin. “I would be able to easily adjust to a change like this.”
Guilford isn’t the only school to attempt to boycott Sabra Hummus. Schools such as Princeton, DePaul, and Earlham have all made efforts to boycott this brand. These attempts have generally been unsuccessful, with backlash coming from the students who believe divesting from Sabra is an expression of anti-Israel senitment.
At Earlham, administration accepted the proposal of divesting from Sabra but by September of 2012, Sabra cups were back on campus.
“When the school allowed the hummus cups back on campus, it was sad to know that our school is okay with having something that goes against our principles and practices as a Quaker school,” said first-year student Ghadeer Awwad in an email interview.
International accompaniment organizations have documented an increase in the number of serious human rights violations against the Palestinian people. Violations include the intimidation, abuse, and arrest of children, denying access to roads or walkways, using religious reference to insult, intimidate and provoke Palestinians, and illegally entering and taking away Palestinian homes and property.
Some students believe that purchasing Sabra hummus is in contradiction with Guilford’s commitment to its core values.
“In the Fall, we divested from Chickfila because of their stance on gay marriage and Guilford as an institution stood against Amendment One,” said sophomore SAAPS member Sara Minsky. “If we are going to have these core values, we want to live into them and I think this is an example of how we do that.”
Visiting Instructor of Justice and Policy Daniel Rhodes traveled to Palestine last year with Max Carter and has studied the Israel-Palestine issue over the years.
“I think the issue we really have to get to the heart of is not necessarily supporting the Israeli cause or the Palestinian cause because you can balance the two,” said Rhodes. “It still doesn’t give them the right to engage in human rights violations.”
The topic of divesting from Sabra is a deeply political issue, both in a global context and on Guilford’s campus.
“I think that this is another example of Guilford expressing its pro-Palestine, anti-Israel stance,” said one student, who asked not to be named. “I don’t think people are hearing from students who are against divesting because we’re afraid of the consequences of having an opinion that’s different from what the people around us hold.”
“In my opinion, purchasing Sabra Hummus is the same thing as giving an Israeli teen soldier a bullet to kill a Palestinian trying to farm his/her land, or defending his/her right in traveling in his/her own country,” said first-year student from Walid Mosarsaa, who is from Palestine.
Petitions and flyers have been circulating around campus, and support for the divestment initiative appears to be increasing as more and more clubs and departments begin to engage in dialogue about divestment.
“I do not accept that this won’t happen,” said Haridopolos. “I am going to do everything I can to make it happen.”