Company accused of human rights violations

Photo by Tina Wallace

Students at the University of Ottawa launched a campaign to have Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with Israel apartheid.

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 Golani Brigade has been accused of human rights violations by numerous organizations. 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,” said Assma Basmalah, a representative for SPHR.

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 is to provide healthy food options at fair and competitive prices.

“The purchasing policy of our service provider is apolitical,” she sais.

The campaign coincides with the 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week — from Feb. 24 to March 2 — which is an international series of events that raises awareness Israeli Apartheid.

This year, Rethink 2014 was held in opposition to Israeli Apartheid Week. According to their Facebook page, Rethink 2014 aims to challenge the “Apartheid smear.” The campaign involves students posting a photo of why they oppose Israeli Apartheid Week using the hashtag Rethink 2014.

This is the second time this year that student groups have had issues with Food Services. In January, the U of O Muslim Students Association sought to have clearer information about halal foods offered on campus.