Princeton Students Divided on Israeli Ties to Campus Hummus


PRINCETON, N.J. (RNS) Princeton University’s great hummus war is going to the polls this week.

Undergraduates began voting Monday (Nov. 29) on a referendum that calls for the student government to ask the university to provide alternative brands of hummus in its food court and campus stores.

The Princeton Committee on Palestine, a student group, campaigned for the referendum after it learned the school’s current hummus supplier, Sabra, has ties to a company that supports the Israeli military.

“This is about allowing students to send a message,” said Princeton senior Yoel Bitran, one of the organizers of the referendum. “We oppose violations of human rights no matter who commits them.”

After the vote, Princeton dining services officials will continue to discuss the hummus issue to get a broader sample of opinions on campus, said Emily Aronson, a university spokeswoman.

The Ivy League food fight over chickpea dip has made Princeton the target of online ridicule. But the referendum has also divided the 7,500-student campus and made headlines in the Middle East and around the world.

Several Israeli newspapers are covering the Princeton vote and the student anti-hummus campaign has received national attention on The Huffington Post and other political blogs.

Tigers for Israel, a pro-Israel student group, started its own Facebook campaign, titled “Save the Hummus!” The group says the student referendum is a thinly veiled attempt to “delegitimize the state of Israel,” said Addie Lerner, a Princeton senior and vice president of Tigers for Israel.

“This is a saga that has been going on for two weeks,” said Lerner, 21, of Massachusetts. “It reflects how silly this referendum is. This is what Princeton students are spending their time on.”

Princeton officials said the hummus in the campus dining halls is made fresh from scratch. But for the last four or five years, the packaged hummus sold in the student center food court and campus convenience stores has been supplied by Sabra, an American company based in New York and Virginia.

Sabra is co-owned by PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, a food company headquartered in Israel. The Strauss Group website says its donations program provides pocket money and care packages for soldiers in the Golani Brigade, an infantry unit in the Israeli military.

Student voting will continue through noon on Wednesday.

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Tags: Human Rights, Israel, Kelly Heyboer, Military, Princeton, RNS, Star-Ledger


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