A Response To The SPJP Proposed Boycott of Sabra Hummus

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In a compelling op-ed published in The Daily Gazette, the Students for Peace and Justice in Palestine (SPJP) proposed a boycott of Sabra hummus. They gave the following rationale:

“An internationally distributed brand, Sabra is partially owned by the Strauss Group, Israel’s second largest food and beverage company. As a company the Strauss group actively supports the Israeli Defense Forces, specifically the Golani Brigade, which is notorious for its poor human rights record. Their relationship includes providing the Golani Brigade with products for training missions and personal care packages.”

Sabra then indirectly supports the occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza and we must boycott it. I agree with the SPJP’s proposed boycott of Sabra Hummus, but I don’t think it goes far enough.

Let us examine another company that supports human rights violations against Palestinians, Google. Google has two offices in Israel, one in Tel Aviv and one in Haifa. Google, by Israeli Law, must withhold income from its employees and pay various Israeli taxes similar to the payroll tax in the United States. It is also obligated to pay corporate taxes on profits earned in Israel. Google pays taxes directly to the Israeli government, which in turn arms and funds the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The IDF is responsible, according to SPJP, for numerous human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank. As a result, Google, like Sabra, supports the oppression of the Palestinians. Google makes money through ads on its websites, and that money supports human rights violations in the territories. If we believe human rights violations are morally wrong and should boycott companies that support them, then we should boycott Google by blocking all Google websites from use on Swarthmore’s Internet. But it doesn’t stop with Google. Intel has five offices in Israel. Microsoft, Yahoo, and IBM have offices there also. The list goes on.

Now you are probably saying “phew” at this point, we have to get rid of all the colleges Dell computers (they use Intel processors), but we can still keep the Apple computers. Most of the college computers are Apples, so we should be fine.  We can’t search for anything on the Internet, but we can get around that. We’ll be fine. Fine…for now. Apple has been in negotiations to both buy an Israeli startup company called Anobit and open offices in the same office park in Haifa as Intel, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google. If Apple opens up there, I guess we’ll have to find another kind of computer.

You have probably figured out by now that I am not being serious, and you’re right. I believe both sides in this conflict want peace, but neither trusts the other as a partner in it. I don’t think the boycott of Sabra is a good idea because I think it is a stunt. It is yet another example in a long line of both sides trying to score points against the other. The boycott serves no real purpose other than to attack an Israeli-affiliated company for no other reason than it has a connection to Israel.  An anti-Israel prejudice is as destructive and wrong as any other prejudice. It is also convenient. If the college were to really accept the argument against Sabra, I would hope that it would boycott all the other companies as well. Human rights violations are uniformly wrong. If we as a school decide that boycotting companies that support the Israeli army indirectly is right, then, if for no other reason than avoidance of utter hypocrisy, then we had better go all the way. If we don’t, then we are just putting on a farce. Further, the initiative alienates the pro-Israel students at Swarthmore. If at Swarthmore College, of all places, the pro-Israel students and pro-Palestinian students don’t or can’t engage in a constructive dialogue, I have little hope of progress towards the peace I think we both want.


    • I think you are missing the point of the precise BDS movement — it is not simply to go after Israeli companies.. but to go after Israeli companies highly complicit in the occupation and war crimes of the Israeli government.. Ahava – is complicit in the illegal occupation of the West Bank – it prohibits Palestinians from accessing the Dead Sea or drilling on the dead sea to make their own dead sea products.. Soda Stream is also on occupied territory in the West Bank… HP and Intel provide bio-metrics to Israeli military as well as Israeli checkpoints- these companies were directly complicit in the war crimes and siege that occurred this summer during Operation Protective Edge… the Company which owns Sabra Hummus also provides funding for the Israeli Occupation Forces, in particular yes the Golani Brigade, which had a host of documented human rights and IHL violations during Operation Cast Lead ( there are documented testimonials from IDF soldiers in this brigade of the atrocities)… Yes google has an office in Haifa and Tel Aviv.. and yeah Anobit the company acquired by Apple operates within Israel – now if they were assisting Israeli occupation forces to commit war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, there would be a real need to boycott.. yes Intel is used in many computers but there is a competitor processor which is also used in many computers.. but that’s not the BDS focus.. the focus is to boycott companies assisting in the occupation and violation of international law/war crimes.. thats what people do not understand.. of course there are difficulties in boycotting Israeli occupation products in their entirety (even people in the West Bank have this problem) but by targeting those companies which have a higher level of complicity there is a step toward accountability of the Israeli state which has occupied and oppressed the Palestinian land for 66+ years… and its actually working Israeli settlements in the West Bank have reported a reported a significant loss in profits – which is why Zionists are fighting so bad to denounce the BDS movement… it also attracts attention and larger groups, banks and pension funds such as the Norwegion Pension Fund and the Presbyterian Church have divested from israeli companies assisting the occupation — this definitely brings a lot more attention

      • 1. SodaStream provides good steady jobs for Christians, Jews and Muslims, who are not protesting. However, due to outside pressure, the owner is considering moving the plant, and there will be a loss of jobs and stability in this area.
        2.If you have ever been to the Ahava plant, you will know that it is in the middle of the desert and employs Christians, Jews and Muslims. There is decreased access for all to the Dead Sea, because of environment concerns, and safety issues (marshes). The Dead Sea has diminished in size, and there are joint efforts between Jordan and Israel to preserve it.
        3. Last year, the UN cancelled a 5K in Gaza because women are not allowed to run in public, even in burqas.
        4. It is illegal to be gay in Gaza, and a cause for imprisonment or worse (remember those men and women shot in the head without a trial last month?). Gays flee to Israel for protection, and Israel’s Gay Rights parade last spring attracted over 100,000 people.
        5. Books are banned for women by Hamas. There are mandated single gender schools, with single-gender teachers, and teachers face huge fines if they speak about peace in the classroom.
        6. In Gaza, Hamas mandates that women wear burqas head-to-toe, with religious police patrolling.
        7. Hamas started an air war wih Israel, and although they built comfy tunnels for their men, did not build even 1 bomb shelter for civilians.

        It always amazes me that college students and other so-called enlightened people tolerate and celebrate Hamas, a terrorist organization, and do nothing to improve the human rights of civilians in Gaza. Especially concerning is the total lack of concern for women and gays in Gaza under the control of Hamas, ISIS (yes ISIS is there), and Islamic Jihad.

        I would hope that you and your compatriots will go live in Gaza under Hamas and come back to report on how you liberated its people and established human rights for all, including the oppressed women and the hapless gays there.

  1. Correction: Apple computers have used Intel processors since around ’06. There might be a few computers on campus older than that, but they are few and far between. A boycott of Intel would essentially mean the complete disappearance of computers on campus, Apple or otherwise.

  2. Dear Hirshman,

    For you to say “The boycott serves no real purpose other than to attack an Israeli-affiliated company for no other reason than it has a connection to Israel” shows that you

    1)obviously did not attend the SPJP Sabra interest meeting–The group made it incredibly clear that they are against the human rights violations/occupation that the IDF is responsible for (there was nothing anti-Israel)

    2)Did not read your own essay well enough to realize that the quote you used clearly says that Sabra “actively” supports the Golani Brigade. Actively supporting is not the same as indirectly supporting. Actively supporting the IDF is not the same as actively supporting Israel.

    Don’t sit back on your seat pointing at the computer screen yelling “Anti-Israel, Anti-Israel” without making an effort to find out what is really happening. That’s being lazy.

    Also as a side note, if we (Swat) were really going to “take it all the way” then we should stop paying taxes as well because our tax dollars contribute to the foreign aid that is indirectly funneled to the IDF. Israel committed more human rights violations between 1950 and 2000 than Sadam Hussein.

    Listen before you speak

    • 2) The quote asserts that Sabra’s parent company Strauss Food actively supports the Golani brigade. Since it is not Sabra directly, but profits from Sabra that support the IDF. Thus, I believe it is safe to say that Sabra indirectly supports the IDF.

      1) No I did not because I am not interested in boycotting Sabra hummus. Usually the point of an interest meeting is to go because you are interested. Also, I believe that the point of my article was to show that the connection between Sabra hummus and the IDF was as tenuous as the connection between a great many companies and the IDF. Thus, there was no reason per say to pick Sabra over any other company with a presence in Israel. Why choose Sabra and not Google? Sabra has a greater name affiliation with Israel. Also, it’s a lot easier to boycott Sabra than Google or any of the other companies mentioned You may disagree with the argument, but I think it is plausible nonetheless.

      Also, people tend to address me as Sam, not Hirshman. Names are good, they put faces to a discussion. I think that if we are actually going to have constructive dialogues about this issue or any other, it needs to done civilly be between people.

      Anyway, thank you for your comment. I hope that my responses add clarity. If they didn’t, I’ll try again.

      All the best,

  3. Don’t forget to mention that we’d have to give up all of these other things as well, as they are all Israeli inventions:

    1) Cellphones

    2) Solar Windows

    3) cherry tomatoes

    4) electric hair removers

    5) Instant messaging

    6) UBS Flashdrives

    7) Store bought food – Many farmers use efficient, water saving drip irrigation, which was greatly enhanced by Israeli engineer Simcha Blass and his son

    8) The Solar Water Heater – The greenies will miss this the most. The modern solar water heater was greatly enhanced by Israel

    9)Treatment for MS – Israel invented a drug that is currently widely used in MS treatment.

    10)”Gut cam” ingestible pill video camera to diagnose cancer

    11) GM, BMW and Volvo cars, since they all have deals with an Israeli company that invented a tiny digital camera with sophisticated algorithms to help drivers navigate more safely.

    12) The next possible solution to getting off of oil for good (Better Place electric car network–a model for a worldwide electric car grid).

    13) All HP digital printers

    14) radiation-free breast cancer diagnostic tests

    15) Mad Cow disease detection technology

    16) Blue-light, skin damage-free acne treatment

    And the list goes on and on and on…

    I think you can guess where I’m going with this If you try and boycott all Israeli products, you are literally going to take your standard of living back a century. This boycott is pointless and not a solution to any kind of problem.


      Glad we established that. An anonymous neonazi, Fidel Castro, and Fred Phelps can all in some way be implicated in any extremely long causal chain. They all, to some extent, benefited from my recent purchase of a handmade scarf I got on Etsy, which is knitted with wool from the sheep a kind-hearted hippie keeps in her back yard (where did that hippie get her sheep?! who made her knitting supplies?! who has interests in Etsy?! and let’s take a look at the underbelly of her shipping service…). In that case, I may as well just go buy stuff directly from the hateful monsters of the world. Because it’s all the same, right? Boycott all or boycott nothing. Degrees of influence don’t matter.

      Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go purchase something produced and marketed by the pimps of sex slaves–potato chips made largely from the coagulated tears of children who forced to labor in diamond mines! It’s all morally equivalent, right? If I can’t be convinced that boycotting Sabra hummus could be reasonable or morally valuable, then I might as well just go all out.

    • This is not an attempt to boycott Israeli products. This is a movement to boycott products that are related to human rights violations. Sabra Hummus is one of many products as many have clarified that is associated with an ongoing violation of human rights. This is NOT a target on Israel.

  4. Thank you! Until this, no one had articulated the fact that the Swarthmore community is not uniformly anti-Israel.

    • Danielle, while we agree that there is more than one opinion on this campus about Israel, I think that there are far more than two ways to approach how our community should relate to issues in Israel/Palestine. Your comment wrongly implies that everyone who supports the boycott is anti-Israel.

      For me, celebrating Israeli culture and feeling ownership over its future reinforces my frustration and desire to act when I hear about human rights violations. For some, criticism comes from a place of love.

      • Obviously there are shades of grey on this issue–but I wonder if your criticism comes out of love or out of a vacuum. It seems so many on this campus love to list Israel’s flaws, while, oddly, this conversation hasn’t featured the atrocities of Hamas/Hezbollah, Iran’s ongoing nuclear ambitions,and the heightened insecurity in the Middle East. Rather than honestly accessing BOTH sides of this issue, we’re moaning about defunding hummus that tangentially relates to some care-packages for Israeli troops.

        If you acknowledge that different students feel differently about Israel, maybe we should acknowledge that different students want to keep their hummus.

  5. “The boycott serves no real purpose other than to attack an Israeli-affiliated company for no other reason than it has a connection to Israel. An anti-Israel prejudice is as destructive and wrong as any other prejudice. It is also convenient.”


    Actually, it’s a lot more convenient to say that you’re somehow being subjected to prejudice for being pro-Israel as a lazy (and truly insulting) rhetorical tactic. Take a look around you: I think you have a LOT more friends around you than you think, and you’re not making yourself vulnerable by speaking out.

    Check your privilege.

    • I didn’t argue that I was being subjected to prejudice. I have no such illusions. I argued boycott of Sabra was anti-Israel because the connection between Sabra and human rights violations was so tenuous in my view.

      Also, I am not familiar with the phrase “check your privilege”. Would you mind explaining?

      Thanks and all the best,

  6. Let’s try to remember what SPJP is actually asking for here. They aren’t trying to boycott Sabra because Sabra is an Israeli company, they’re trying to boycott Sabra because the company explicitly supports a brigade of the IDF that is particularly prone to committing human rights violations against Palestinians. Framing this as an anti-Israel campaign is failing to listen to what SPJP is saying.
    This relates to why they aren’t asking for a boycott of all Israeli-made products too. This is, or should be, just about this company and their support of an especially nasty part of the IDF. It’s possible to be anti-human rights violations and not be anti-Israel. In fact, Danielle and Sam, by conflating the two, you give the impression that the state of Israel is inseparable from the worst elements of its military. That’s an assertion that I, as someone with mixed feelings on Israel but fairly surefooted feelings about human rights violations, react pretty strongly against.

    • thank you! this completely captures how i feel about the issue so far. looking at all of these responses i feel like i didn’t even read the same op-ed as everyone else…

  7. If academic institutions in the 80’s (including Swarthmore) had listened to this type of reasoning, the South African Apartheid would probably still be going on.

    The beauty of Swarthmore is that it’s filled with people that believe they can make a difference, and at the end of the day, they actually do. As members of the Swarthmore community we do everything we possibly can to stop human rights violations, if we can’t boycott all companies that support the IDF, then we should at least boycott the ones we can.

    If you want to sit around and do nothing about atrocities committed against innocent civilians, then at least let people who do care do everything in their power to strive for change.

    • I am simply providing my opinion on the issue. I don’t think I have stopped anyone who wants to boycott Sabra from continuing in that attempt.

      I was trying to provide a counter argument which showed that there is no reason to boycott Sabra other than sound of name and “boycottability”, neither of which are reasons I am particularly thrilled with.

      To my mind Sabra doesn’t have a real connection to human rights violations, and I was trying to defend it from boycott.

      You may disagree with my various opinions and that’s your prerogative. I don’t have any ill will toward the people trying to organize the boycott. I just disagree with them so I wrote a piece saying so.

      All the best,

  8. I also agree that human-rights violations are wrong. But let’s be honest about Sabra’s role in supporting the IDF. They provide food/care packages for soldiers. Plenty of institutions in the United States provide food/care packages to US soldiers. Our military also commits human rights violations, along with most other armies/navies/air forces. According to the SPJP’s logic, should all institutions that provide care packages to military forces be boycotted?

    Don’t forget that sabra hummus is not even explicitly supporting the IDF. Sabra is an American company that was bought by Strauss (who own 51% of sabra, frito-lay owns the other 49%) in 2005. Strauss is the one who gives care packages, not sabra (and not frito-lay).

    Saying sabra supports a group that commits human rights violations is sort-of true. But if you really want to be honest about the situation, sabra’s 51% joint-owner parent company provides care packages to soldiers in Israel’s military, a military that commits human rights violations (like ours). If you truely believe that is grounds for boycotting a cheap/tasty hummus, then go for it. But don’t frame the conversation as “boycotting sabra = combating human-rights violations”… there is much more to the situation.

    That being said, I’d be down for fresher hummus. Fuck corporate overlords.

  9. I want to start by making the point that just because we cannot do every single good thing in the world does not mean that each individual good thing is not worth doing. Obviously, at this point in time, we are unable as a university, state, country, or world to boycott every single company that supports human rights violations in Israel. However, that does not mean that we should forego doing the right thing in an individual case, like with Sabra hummus. Sam, you did not refute the point that Sabra supports the IDF, which is responsible for numerous human right abuses. Therefore, it is worthy of a boycott. We can do it. It is the right thing to do. Therefore we must do it.

    I would also like to clarify that this proposed Sabra hummus boycott is not an anti-Israel boycott. It is an anti-human-rights-violations boycott. There is no intent to alienate pro-Israeli students, who are just as opposed to human rights violations as pro-Palestinian students. Therefore, the only people that the boycott directly addresses are those that condone or support human rights violations. Obviously, those who support Palestine and those who support Israel do not agree on many, many points, but all should agree to stand against injustice.

    In conclusion, the Sabra boycott is a first step in attempting to implement a usable strategy on the part of a university to combat human rights violations. Hopefully, in the future, other worthy companies will be boycott-able as well. Basically, we have to start somewhere.

    • “The only people that the boycott directly addresses are those that condone or support human rights violations.”

      Not sure if you really meant this, but it sounds like you’re saying Sam supports human rights violations. That’s pretty rough. Sam’s very clearly saying that he disagrees with the manner in which these issues are being addressed, not that they ought not be addressed at all. “I don’t think the boycott of Sabra is a good idea because I think it is a stunt. It is yet another example in a long line of both sides trying to score points against the other.” Let’s not miss what he’s getting at here, especially in our commenting practices.

      • I think you’ve misunderstood JH’s comment there. He referred to persons the boycott “directly addresses” and referred to those individuals as supporters of human rights violations. The boycott is not directed at Sam, Sam and his opinion came around after the boycott was first being organized. It appears to me the boycott is action directed at Sabra and I’m not sure where Sam gets thrown in with that corporation.

        • Thank you, Paul. That’s exactly what I meant. I was in no way implicating Sam in that quote. I wasn’t even addressing my comment in general to Sam.

  10. As the authors of the original boycott op-ed, we’d like to take this discussion as an opportunity to clarify a few points.

    First, we’d really like to emphasize the distinction between our boycott of Sabra and a boycott of Israel. We wish to boycott Sabra because of its connection through its parent company to the Golani Brigade which, as stated, has a compromising record of human rights abuses. The choice of focusing on the Golani Brigade is a timely one as the Brigade is currently stationed in the town of Hebron in the West Bank as a direct participant in the occupation. The language used on the Strauss Group website (which has since been taken down, but was never retracted) specifically singles out this brigade with its reputation of abuses for support. For these reasons, we see Sabra as a legitimate target for boycott. Our boycott is not anti-Israel, or even anti-IDF. We are simply against the sections of the IDF that are complicit in supporting the Occupation due to its illegality and, as we see it, violation of basic human rights.

    Secondly, we’d like to clarify that while we share a belief in the power of consumer boycott to push for change, we’ve declined to affiliate ourselves with any national BDS movements as we have very different goals. Our reasons for choosing boycott as a nonviolent tactic (contributing to an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories) is as specific as our choice of Sabra for boycott (its association with the Golani Brigade). As not all Israeli companies directly profit from or support the occupation, most (if not all) of the companies mentioned above would not fall within the scope of our campaign. Swarthmore fortunately purchases very few products which support occupation.

    Finally, we hope that this process can be full of constructive dialogue. We in no way wish to silence or intimidate students with differing or opposing opinions. We feel strongly that a boycott of Sabra is the best course of action, but we also feel strongly that it would be wrong to proceed without the input of the Swarthmore student body. Due to this commitment to dialogue, we will attempt to maintain as much transparency as possible. We have planned an open panel to discuss this issue after break and we hope that everyone invested in this issue, regardless of opinion, attends. We also hold meetings at 9 PM on Mondays in Science Center 128 and all are certainly welcome. Our mission statement is now available on our (very new) website: swarthmorespjp.wordpress.com. And finally, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this issue, feel free to seek out one or both of us. We’d be more than happy to talk to you.

    Danny Hirschel-Burns and Sarah Dwider

    • Are you also boycotting any products made by those Gaza terrorists who bomb Israeli civilians on a daily basis, or is the value of Israeli civilians lives less important to you? Or how about boycotting the makers of the Gaza bombs that have maimed and killed Israelis of all backgrounds, including Israeli Arabs, Jews, Bedouins, etc etc. Why are you placing a lower value on Israeli lives, to the incredible step of actually trying to boycott a brand of hommous?

      You could just go and live in the Gaza Strip, and then reevalute your choices, especially when you discover that the human rights violations there by Hamas against women are terrible, democracy and free speech are nonexistent, and the corruption widespread.

      • What products does Swarthmore sell that are made by “Gaza terrorists”? I think the blockade tends to limit the number of products coming out of Gaza.

        • During the past year, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have exported more than 399 tons of strawberries, 10 million carnations, 6.5 tons of cherry tomato and 6 tons of red, green and yellow bell peppers to European markets. In the coming year, Palestinians are expected to export 1,000 tons of strawberries, 20 million carnations and 150 tons of red, green and yellow bell peppers. The exports are carried out thanks to the cooperation between COGAT and the Palestinian agricultural coordinator who work together in order to improve the lives of Gaza’s civilian population

          In addition, 176 construction projects were approved for the region, including 70 that are already underway, and many others that have been completed, according to CoGAT.

          The projects include 1,918 new housing units, upgrades for six hospitals and construction of seven additional clinics. An education project is set to renovate and build 57 new schools and nurseries in the near future as well.

          At least 27 projects deal with water and sewage purification, according to CoGAT. Also approved were the construction of 18 greenhouses and cold storage rooms for fruit and vegetables, as well as rehabilitation of soil and water sources.

          Unfortunately, there were other exports from the region as well, not nearly as positive.

          There was a significant increase in the number of rocket and mortar attacks fired by terrorists from the Hamas terrorist-ruled region at Jewish communities in southern Israel during this period.

          • Why yes, I believe that agricultural products are indeed produced in Palestine. I think, however, you’d need evidence that Hamas is growing them if you actually wanted to claim they were “made by Gaza terrorists.” Not every Palestinian is a terrorist.
            Leaving the validity of the Sabra connection or the efficacy of the boycott aside, I’d really want to see some evidence on those strawberries funding rockets. Until I do, I’d consider your example wholly irrelevant.
            And for the record, the “either you support Israel or you support Hamas” argument has never made sense to me.

          • To be clear: I slipped into the rhetoric too easily at the end there. The choice is presented as “pro-Hamas or pro-Israel,” but it ends up being “pro-Hamas or pro-IDF, specifically right-wing use of the IDF.” That’s the false choice to which I’d answer “neither.”

  11. Another reason to boycott Israel:

    To free Hana Shalabi, Palestinian woman hunger striker — her parents are now on hunger strike too.

  12. I propose to expand the boycott to all products and trade, including but not exclusive to hummous, from other Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan, etc until the following are universally guaranteed:
    1. Democracy, one person, one vote
    2. Universal education for women
    3. Voting rights for women
    4. Right of women to drive cars without threat of arrest and imprisonment
    5. Freedom of clothing choices for women, without penalty of physical penalties, death or prison.
    6. Choice of marriage partner for women and men without penalties such as prison or death.
    7. Equal job opportunities for women
    8. Right for women to consent to mariage
    9. Universal outlawing of polygamy for men (not allowed for women)
    10. End of condoned “honor killings” for expressing free choice in friendship, marriage or love relationships, dressing without a veil, etc etc
    11. Penalties imposed for rapes, such as prison
    12. End of penalties of prison and death for gay men and women, ie freedom to express preferences
    13. No arrests of Westerners in NGOs trying to promote democracy, as in Egypt at this time.
    14. Immediate release of all those imprisoned for promoting democracy in the Middle East, regardless of nationality.
    15. Legalize birth control for men and women.

  13. This has been said numerous times, but some people still seem to not understand the point of boycotting Sabra, or even the point of an economic boycott in general. SPJP has clearly picked a particular target for particular reasons, and have laid them out in several excellent responses. Yes, there are human rights abuses all over the place and in many forms, however, SPJP is a group explicitly for a “just Palestine,” and therefore it makes sense that they would target a company that is specifically perpetuating injustices in Palestine. We could use these sorts of “black hole” arguments for nearly any social movement, but if we considered them valid, very little change would ever happen. We could level the same argument against Swat STAND only focusing on human rights abuses in Syria with its phone banking campaign, or for only calling congresspeople who often don’t do shit anyway, but no one seems to think that is a useless or misguided endeavor. I think one reason why this particular campaign seems to be so contentious is because it has personal significance to a lot of Swatties, but that, as of yet, has gone largely unsaid. That might be a more productive line of discussion than coming up with arguments that only half make sense and could be leveled at any “socially responsible” measures the college takes.

    • Exactly. Boycotts of specific brands or products are often largely symbolic. Because pretty much everything to be bought has ties with a nefarious something-or-other, if we want to make a statement that we oppose a specific instance of a rights violation, we then pick one or a few key products to highlight in a boycott. That shines a light on the specific atrocity being funded by the specific products AND encourages people to look at what any and all of their purchases might support. It is an awareness-raising tactic and an attempt to just begin to chip away at our personal contribution to things that are morally reprehensible.

  14. Hey, there’s more things on that list you forgot!

    AHAVA, Motorola, L’Oreal, The Body Shop, !Trader Joe’s!, Clinique, MAC, Origins, Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Sara Lee Bakery, Ball Park Hotdogs, Wonderbra, Victoria’s Secret – all these companies are in the exact same position as Sabra.
    Exact. Same.

    So, SPJP. Let’s see you throw out your underwear and stop using any of those products. You do that, and then maybe you’ll have a leg to stand on with boycotting Sabra.

    ‘Til then, let me eat my hummus in peace.

    • last time i checked swarthmore wasn’t subsidizing victoria’s secret lingerie for students… or wonder bras for the board of managers…

      can people at least PRETEND that they actually read the op-ed?

    • Yo, did you even look at what I just wrote? That argument is ridiculous! No move toward positive social change is ever totalizing. SPJP was clear that this is a step in the right direction, and that it is only the beginning. Beyond that, economic boycotts do not need to hit every single complicit company in order to send a clear message. Your view of how such actions work is narrow and defeatist. If you have any constructive ideas about how, as students, we could better address human rights abuses in Palestine, than by all means put them forward. Otherwise, I think that this is an effective way for Swarthmore students to use the particular tactics they have access to in order to take a stand against human rights abuses.

  15. Salaam Aleikum

    I am actively looking to boycott products that contribute to human rights violations. Recently it came to my attention that the underwear i wear comes from a company that funds the Israeli soldiers’ night-time fantasies. What should I do? Looking forward to boycott this product!

    Open to any suggestions for hummus and underwear alternatives. Remember has to be both Halal and Kosher.

    Aleikum Salaam

  16. Great point about it being a stunt. I wonder what less stunty alternatives you may have in mind? Also is there any value to a stunt? Very good column sir

    • Amazing stunt… I select points on the stunty. Also, stunts, and any value? Very good column Sir

  17. Good excerpt:

    “These depictions of immigrants — usually Muslims of Arab, South Asian, Turkish or African origin — as “homophobic fanatics” opportunistically ignore the existence of Muslim gays and their allies within their communities. They also render invisible the role that fundamentalist Christians, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Jews play in perpetuating fear and even hatred of gays. And that cynical message has now spread from its roots in European xenophobia to become a potent tool in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

    • ” Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow. More important is the emerging Palestinian gay movement with three major organizations: Aswat, Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These groups are clear that the oppression of Palestinians crosses the boundary of sexuality; as Haneen Maikay, the director of Al Qaws, has said, “When you go through a checkpoint it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is.”

      In Israel, gay soldiers and the relative openness of Tel Aviv are incomplete indicators of human rights — just as in America, the expansion of gay rights in some states does not offset human rights violations like mass incarceration. The long-sought realization of some rights for some gays should not blind us to the struggles against racism in Europe and the United States, or to the Palestinians’ insistence on a land to call home. “

  18. This treatment of gays cited in the NYTimes article below is typical, since in Arab countries homosexuality is punishable by prison, death or outright murder on the streets. Israel is the only Middle Eastern countries that protects and accepts gays. This is sincere, not cynical as you Israel-bashers like to believe. Israeli Arabs, Christians and Jews have more protected civil rights than in any Arab country.

    “Homosexual activity is a crime and forbidden in most Muslim-majority countries. In the Islamic regimes of Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, North Sudan and Yemen, homosexual activity is punished with the death penalty. In Nigeria and Somalia the death penalty is issued in some regions.[2] The legal punishment for sodomy has varied among juristic schools: some prescribe capital punishment; while other prescribe a milder discretionary punishment such as imprisonment.” Wikipedia

    In Gaza, homosexuality is illegal, and gays are imprisoned. See this article below about gays in Iraq being murdered on the streets.


    • Iraq is not the same as Palestine, nor is it the same as Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, North Sudan, or Yemen.

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