Students at the University of Ottawa, in the beginning of March 2014 have started a campaign boycotting the popular hummus brand Sabra and banning it from being sold on campus. A number of student run associations, such as Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), Palestinian Student Association (PSA) and Young Jews for Social Justice (YSJS), are involved in this campaign to ban Sabra hummus. Sabra is partly owned by the food manufacturing company Strauss Group, and this boycott alleges that Sabra supports the Israeli Defense Forces.
I can only assume that because of this, these student associations believe that by selling and buying Sabra product, the school is supporting Israeli. I can only imagine that the students involved in this campaign are unaware of the number of other popular corporations that happen to financially support Israel. Some of which include L’Oreal, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and many other known companies are major corporate partners with Israeli businesses. I find it doubtful that Sabra’s success is solely based on its connection to Israel, but rather that the product itself is enjoyed by people everywhere, and that it makes good hummus.
I first read about the boycotting of Sabra on campus from the Fulcrum newspaper when they published an article on March 6th. Reading about this campaign left me feeling uncomfortable and confused. It never crossed my mind while walking through one of the school’s cafeterias or a grocery store, that any of the food products being sold were sending political messages.
A first year student, Maria, had this to say about the matter; “they are causing unneeded conflict against people from different ethnic backgrounds. Canada is a place where people live respectfully with others, and is very accepting of other beliefs. As long as the topic in question, or a person doesn’t personally affect you in any way, you have no reason to cause disturbances because that is how big conflicts start”.
Because there is already a heated conflict surrounding this issue, making unfounded statements causes already existing biased opinions on both sides to be aggravated.
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