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February 1, 2017 9:35 am

‘It’s About More Than Hummus,’ Says UC Riverside Rabbi Leading Fight Against Sabra Boycott

avatar by Rachel Frommer

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Sabra hummus. Photo: Wikipedia.

Sabra hummus. Photo: Wikipedia.

A proposed student resolution to ban Sabra company products from the dining hall of a California university “is about more than hummus,” the campus rabbi leading the opposition to the boycott told The Algemeiner.

“People ask what the big deal is, because even if the motion does pass the University of California Riverside Student Senate, it’s up to administrators to decide what is served at the school,” said Chabad on Campus director Rabbi Matisyahu Devlin, ahead of Wednesday’s vote. “But Jewish students are afraid; they are disturbed. If the motion passes, the message is clear: We don’t want you here, even your hummus.”

Devlin said that some students are telling him they may stop openly identifying as Jewish on campus if the motion passes.

“Even though Sabra is an American-based brand, people associate it with Israel and Jews,” he added. “This vote is about banning a Jewish product, Jewish business.”

The rabbi told The Algemeiner that the effort to block the motion has been a joint project of Chabad, Hillel, the AEPi fraternity and advocacy groups Stand With Us and Israel on Campus Coalition.

“Everyone is getting involved in trying to make sure this vote doesn’t go through. Jews from all backgrounds are speaking out, and many non-Jews are joining us,” he said. “I have had a lot of nachas (pride) watching my students at work.”

The motion is being brought by the school’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which succeeded in getting Sabra banned from UC Riverside in 2015, by going straight to dining services with a complaint. The group was disappointed, however, when school administrators quickly called the decision a “mistake.”

Devlin said, “Since that time, the anti-Israel movement on campus has been growing. Right now, they are working to bring Israeli Apartheid Week to the school.”

He said that he is optimistic about being able to block the motion, but noted that SJP has allies — and at least one vote in the Student Senate.

In May 2015, as was reported in The Algemeiner, the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought confirmed that UC Riverside was offering a course that met the State Department’s definition of antisemitism. The course — “Palestinian Voices,” a student-initiated class whose syllabus reveals a different and more controversial title: “Palestine & Israel: Settler-Colonialism and Apartheid” — raised concern among 20 campus watchdog groups.

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  • Rxlips

    If the issue is human rights violation, lets boycott Chinese products for invading Tibet, destroying its culture and replacing its population with Chinese. Lets boycott Russia by invading Crimea and Eastern Ukrayne and killing thousand of Syrian children, women and non combatants,on purpose. Or Turkey for illegally invading Western Cyprus, Saudis for invading Yemen, just to start. Israel does not have the 4th largest military in the world. I wish.

  • Rxlips

    You are wrong. The issue here is not policies of Israeli government. It is about religion. I do not see these students boycotting vodka for Russia attacking Ukraine and annexing Crimea or dumplings for China totally illegal invasion of Tibet. And neither Crimea or Tibet ever vowed to destroy Russia or China and throw their people into the ocean.

  • Joseph Feld

    I assumed the humus came from West Bank ‘settlements’. Now we know it is American and has never seen a settlement. They object to anything that might be asociated with Jews. If that isn’t anti-Semitism what is? Will they ban chicken soup? challah? Matza? To those of us in the Ivy League on the East Coast, U of C has always been seen as a bit extreme. Is Riverside becoming another Berkeley?

  • Michki067

    This poorly written article doesn’t tell me why “Sabra” is supposedly bad. Or is it the hummus part they don’t like. All I know is if you type Grandma Moses followed by “boycott” you will probably find the loons out there boycotting G.M. (For something; and we all know she has done something.)

  • The “brainwashing” of these students by their left-wing Anti-Israel professors was successful. After these students graduate, they will spread Anti-Israel lies to their children. The fear of the Jewish students is real. If college administrators allow these Anti-Israel boycotts to flourish, it’s wiser for Jewish students to make Aliyah.

  • Gary E.

    I am an alumnus of UCR. When I left UCR after getting my degree in 1969 there were posters in the library extolling the PLO with pictures of guns held overhead. It was very chilling then. Now I am ashamed of the students at UCR who are rebelling against a food product with a name that reminds them of Jews or Israel. Google the date May 10, 1933 and you’ll see what university students in Germany were capable of doing. Is that where UCR students are headed?

  • Mark Geyzer

    I have even mistaken Algemeiner for JTA – Idn, Since when “nachas” means pride?