UC Riverside Student Council Votes to Ban Israeli ‘Sabra’ Hummus
Last week, the Associated Students of UC Riverside voted 13-0 in favor of a resolution calling for the removal of hummus that is partially owned by an Israeli company from all campus dining services.
One student senator abstained, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The resolution to remove Sabra hummus was reportedly requested after the media reported that the company’s joint owner (Strauss Group) provides support to the Israeli Military.
The vote was supported by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and is part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to delegitimize the state of Israel.
Before the vote took place, Rabbi Matisyahu Devlin, director of Chabad on Campus at the University of California Riverside, told the Algemeiner that the proposed student resolution to ban Sabra products from the university is about antisemitism, not hummus. This vote “is about more than hummus,” Rabbi Devlin reportedly said. “Even though Sabra is an American-based brand, people associate it with Israel and Jews. This vote is about banning a Jewish product, Jewish business.”
Despite the vote, the UC Riverside administration reportedly said it has no plans to remove Sabra hummus from its shelves.
Assistant Vice Chancellor and Campus Spokesman James E. Grant issued a statement in the student-run newspaperThe Highlander reaffirming that commitment. Grant said “the University has no plans to change brands offered for sale or consumption in its stores and dining facilities.”
In a statement to NBC 4, Sabra Spokeswoman Ilya Welfeld said Sabra has “no political affiliations.” She said, “Sabra Dipping Company is owned by two independent global food companies- PepsiCo, based in the U.S. and Strauss Group, which is headquartered in Israel. Each company is a separate entity and independent company.”
This is not the first time UC Riverside has faced controversy over this brand of hummus.
In 2015, UC Riverside’s campus dining services banned the sale of Sabra hummus after it was confronted by SJP. However, the school reversed course after it realized that by removing the Israeli hummus, it was taking a political position of its own.
“The product was changed due to consideration for student preferences without consideration of the political issues raised,” UC Riverside said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times at the time. “However, we made a mistake in agreeing to replace one brand with another.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter and Periscope @AdelleNaz