FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2011
DePaul University students declare victory in Sabra hummus campaign
Following SJP’s campaign to remove Sabra hummus from campus due to students’ concerns about the product’s connection to human rights abuses, DePaul provides alternative hummus brand in its dining halls.
CHICAGO, IL (November 23, 2011)—DePaul University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) declare a major victory in their campaign against the sale of Sabra hummus products after University dining services introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus this fall quarter. The decision was made after SJP’s yearlong campaign to draw attention to the complicity of Sabra’s parent company, the Strauss Group, in Israel’s military occupation of Palestine.
Student activists identify the University’s decision to introduce an alternative brand of hummus as a revision of the University’s
decision to continue selling Sabra hummus. SJP member Maryam Salem said, “We’re happy that student concerns over Sabra hummus have finally been heard. A lot of students were disappointed by the University’s decision to keep Sabra back in the spring. But now, by offering an alternative brand of hummus, students have an ethical product they can choose.”
In November 2011, SJP raised concern to the University about the sale of Sabra hummus at DePaul, citing that the Strauss Group provides material and financial donations to two Israeli military units, the Golani and Givati brigades, which have been found by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have committed egregious violations of human rights and international law in Palestine. Days later, Sabra was removed from campus shelves, only to be replaced soon after. The issue was taken up by the administration’s Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) for review.
During the FBPC review, SJP launched an educational campaign to promote ethically responsible consumer behavior on campus by raising awareness of Sabra’s connection to human rights abuses. Examples include Givati brigade soldiers forcing Palestinian children to serve as human shields; members of the Golani brigade opening fire on a civilian home, killing three young girls; and a Givati brigade soldier shooting and killing a Palestinian mother and daughter as they carried white flags during Israel’s military assault on Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009.
In May 2011, SJP decided to ask the Student Government Association to allow students to vote on whether Sabra Nearly 80 percent of the 1,000 students who participated voted to replace Sabra with an alternative brand of hummus.
Despite the large margin of student voters who voted for an alternative, the FBPC decided to keep Sabra, claiming that it “did not find evidence that the Strauss Group provides direct military support for units within the Israeli Defense Forces.” DePaul President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider stated that the “product will remain on our shelves.”
However, in an unexpected turn, the University quietly introduced an alternative brand of hummus to campus dining halls several months later. According to a statement from the University, the alternative is a hummus homemade by Chartwells, DePaul’s food services vendor, to “provide the university community with more dining choices”.
SJP members say they are excited by the success of their campaign and will continue to raise awareness about Israel’s occupation of Palestine and strive for more socially responsible business relationships at DePaul University.