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Students in Canada's Capital Boycott Israeli Hummus

Students at University of Ottawa campaign to have Sabra hummus banned because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid.”
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/9/2014, 6:18 AM

Hummus (illustration)
Hummus (illustration)
Thinkstock

Students at the University of Ottawa, in the Canadian capital, have launched a campaign to have the kosher Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid,” reports the Fulcrum, the university’s student newspaper.

Sabra is partly owned by the Strauss Group, a food products manufacturer that, according to the New York Times, financially supports the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Fulcrum reported that student groups Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) and the Palestinian Student Association (PSA), as well as the community group Young Jews for Social Justice (YJSJ), are among those involved in the campaign.

“We will be raising awareness amongst the student population, collecting signatures for a petition, and encouraging students to individually boycott the product,” Assma Basmalah, a representative for SPHR, told the newspaper.

In an email to the Fulcrum, Susan Spronk, an associate professor at the School of International Development and Global Studies at the U of O, said she supports SPHR because she believes “the struggle to liberate Palestine is this generation’s struggle against apartheid.”

She also said “boycott campaigns have symbolic importance and a potential economic impact. Boycott campaigns are a peaceful and non-violent way to affect political and social change.”

Caroline Milliard, manager of media relations for the U of O, said in an email that the main objective of food services on campus is to provide healthy food options at fair and competitive prices.

“The purchasing policy of our service provider is apolitical,” she told the Fulcrum.

The campaign was timed to coincide with the annual Israel Apartheid Week, which is held annually on campuses and is used to delegitimize Israel.

Since launching in Canada ten years ago, the phenomenon of Israel Apartheid Week has taken hold in campuses across several different countries, including the United States and Britain. Based on the spurious, yet maliciously effective, accusation that Israel is in some way akin to apartheid South Africa, anti-Zionist groups have found the perfect way to monopolize the discourse and shut out any debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Last week, the student union at Windsor University in Ontario voted in favor of a comprehensive boycott on Israel.

According to Shalom Toronto, the decision was reached in a student referendum held Saturday, a week before the start of Israel Apartheid Week. A total of 798 students voted in favor of a comprehensive boycott of Israel, while 585 opposed it.

In November, the student union at Toronto University's Scarborough Campus reportedly voted to mark Israel Apartheid Week on campus.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) recently officially endorsed Israel Apartheid Week.

In a statement, ANC said it was “unequivocal in its support for the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination, and unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel.”

In 2012 the same ANC resolved to support the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.