Sabra protests put strengths and dangers of Israel BDS on display


Sabra Dipping Company opened a pop-up Hummus House on Wisconsin Ave. at the beginning of this month, at once inviting both sampling of the unassuming Levantine delicacy and criticism of the Israel-based Strauss Group. The food products manufacturer financially supports the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces and owns a 50 percent stake in Sabra.

The IDF’s alleged human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the past summer’s Israel-Gaza conflict quickly turned the store into the latest lightning rod in a public dispute between supporters of Israel and Palestine. Small-scale protests have been staged outside Hummus House by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a D.C.-based non-governmental organization, whose protests centered on the Strauss Group’s part ownership of Sabra.

The protests give voice to legitimate concerns about Israel’s worsening human rights record, which was on full display during Operation Protective Edge this past July and August. The violence levied against Gazan civilians by the IDF is both condemnable and inexcusable. Cavalier statements—such as those of Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, who declared on the 14th day of the conflict that the IDF deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for its “restraint” in Gaza—didn’t help. Likewise, the slow pace of recovery in the devastated region—hobbled both by Hamas and the Israeli government—is unconscionable. As a result, Israel has increasingly lost support amongst younger demographics and perhaps even, to judge by recent diplomatic tensions, the unreserved backing of the U.S. government.

The demonstrations at Hummus House are part of a wider opposition movement against current Israeli policy known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. Proponents of BDS seek the economic and social isolation of Israel as a punitive measure. Their ranks recently swelled when 13 Georgetown professors announced their intention to boycott Israeli academic institutions. BDS is an appropriate and valuable exercise of one’s freedom of expression, and gives teeth to the otherwise helpless consumer as they attempt to shape policy in the far-off Middle East.

Support for such acts must be carefully qualified, however. Both the anti-Sabra protests and the larger BDS movement have at times qualitatively associated Israel’s actions with the South African policy of apartheid. BDS movements against South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s put exogenous political pressure on that nation to reform itself. Claims that Israeli occupation is equivalent with apartheid, however, belong more to projected fears more than current realities. While unjust policies unquestionably merit correction through BDS, unqualified action runs the risk of financially and reputationally harming Israeli businesses not involved in the conflict.

A deeper danger inherent to BDS involves venturing from criticism of Israeli policy into wholesale anti-Israel or anti-Semitic sentiment. Neither is consistent with Israel’s national sovereignty nor the deserved security of Jews worldwide. As of now, though, the Hummus House protests should be lauded for their non-violent message and successful avoidance of any conflation of anti-occupation sentiment with broader anti-Semitism. If it is to remain a powerful and morally upright tool of political criticism and coercion, however, BDS must remain firmly anti-occupation rather than vaguely anti-Israel.

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14 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Sabra protests put strengths and dangers of Israel BDS on display”

  1. L. Slits says:

    This editorial is garbage. Why are we weighing human rights violations against the strength of Israeli businesses? The point of BDS is to put pressure of Israel internationally, in all institutions: government, business, educational. There is no absurd middle path where we should take the death of thousands of civilian Gazans as equal to a those of handful of Israelis, in addition to the grevious destruction of property. And then you try to associate this kind of activism with antisemitism? Seriously can’t believe this.

    • JM says:

      BDS has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with blind hatred of Jews and Israel. Fact is, nowhere in the Mideast do Arabs, women, gays, Christians and other have more freedom than in Israel. If you were truly interested in human rights, you’d be decrying the brutal repression throughout the Arab World. Racist. Hypocrite. That’s all you are.

      • jm you are brainwashed. you think that killing torturing anyone is ok as long as that person or people are not jewish. the problem is not with the jews .. it is with the israeli government policies and them wanting land that is not theirs. and while they are forcibly taking this land they are committing a genocide that even hitler could not have thought of in his insanity. the israeli government is doing and make soldiers and citizens alike do what hitler made or told or had his military underlings do. only difference is that israel gets away with it by using wwII as an excuse and trying to make the world feel sorry for them. well thanks to the internet and people with camera phones the world now is finding out the truth and israel will be held accountable for its war crimes

        • MC says:

          Here’s why JM is brainwashed:
          Nurit Peled and her brother Miko Peled (general Matti Peled is their father) are great supporters of humane solutions to the situation in Palestine.

        • Carole Major Leupi says:

          Your voice makes sense and will go a long way towards educating people about the exploitation of the Palestinian People by the Israeli Government,but certainly not all of the Israeli population. I give so much credit to those who are against this brutality. It’s all about money and power. What else is new?

  2. to identify the truly sick racists google: chief rabbi of
    Israel says goyim exist only to serve jews, goyim life worth same as a
    donkey.netanyahu says this chief rabbi was the greatest mind of this generation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    For the Editorial Board of this newspaper to endorse BDS shows either massive ignorance about the subject or a deep seated prejudice against Israel.

    BDS is not, contrary to your claims, a wider opposition movement against current Israeli policy. It has always been about pushing the Jews into the sea and restoring Arab oppressive apartheid in their stolen land. Just ask the BDS leaders if they support a two state solution, and they will tell you no.

    • The Truth says:

      Ignorance and prejudice? You’re off to a good start there Mr. Ad-Hominem.

      Pushing the Jews into the sea? This isn’t 1950’s grandpa, nobody is buying that. Its about equal right for all people’s, even if they aren’t Jews.

      Arab apartheid in their stolen land? You have it backwards. Palestine pre-1920 was famed for all three religious peoples living in relative harmony. This ended during the European-Jewry colonization of Palestine, where native Muslims and Christians were ethnically cleansed to make way for the state of Israel.

      There are no BDS “leaders”, but nearly every BDS movement have affirmed either the two-state solution (which Israel’s government and people both reject, via polls and official statements), or a single democratic state with equal rights for all.


  4. Andrew says:

    Not bad. One major editorial mistake here: The use of the term apartheid is not just to invoke South Africa, though notably South African delegations have themselves repeatedly said that Israel’s system is in very reminiscent of their experiences in South Africa, but rather that apartheid is now defined as a crime against humanity, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – including Palestinian citizens of Israel – fits the international definition of apartheid.

  5. Joshua says:

    By indirectly taking the position that terror tunnels and offensive missile capacity should not be destroyed (by saying that Operation Protective Edge was an unjust war), you have rendered the remainder of your editorial meaningless. For $45k/year, I would have expected you to learn how to discern propaganda. I guess my gut feeling of Georgetown as a far-leftist campus are correct.

    • why are the tunnels necessary? oh thats right, israel made the biggest open air prison so that the tunnels are for getting medical supplies, food, water and yes they also run guns through there. lets see what exactly did protective edge do… destroyed tunnels… maybe… destroyed entire families and a whole city, destroyed only water and elect that the area has. destroyed the hospitals and shelters that were helping people your “country” decided to kill or injure. the areas that were hit were not part of tunnel systems and you know it. it was residential and has children and women and old people in other words.. non combatants . there was a 2 state solution back in 67 and probably before. but israel would not abide by that and has broken many many UN resolutions to steal the land and resources of people that have been living there since the times of the pharaohs and before. so now again you are saying that the genocide of a people is ok as long as it is israel who is doing the killing? well sorry the world doesn’t think like that. you need a new government and a new way of thinking put in place in israel. just because the govt of USA is for israel that does not mean that the people of usa are for the atrocities going unaccounted for that isreal has done is doing and will do in the future are ok with the people of the USA.

      • Joshua says:

        So, the tunnels into the kibbutzim were just to raid for supplies? You’re some special kind of stupid.

        And yes, I stopped reading immediately after you dismissed the terror tunnels.

  6. SAS says:

    Sabra is an unethical company that supports Israeli war crimes. There are plenty of better brands of hummus to buy, if you care to look.

  7. Bear jew says:

    Video of the joint chief of staff Martin Dempsey -top US Military advisor to president, basically smacking down the bds argument of genocide and ethic cleansing. As for the author of this article the words you use of leftist slander are skewered in jew hate shame on you.

    Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey: “Israel Went to Ex…:

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