No more hummus for Palestinian activists

Some gems I learned today at an event by Cornell’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter: No matter how delicious it is, Palestinian activists must boycott Sabra hummus. There is no anti-Semitism in Gaza, and Jews have been living there safely for decades. Israel’s founders were not Holocaust survivors, but rather part of a “Jewish capitalist bourgeoisie.”

I had thought attending the event would make me irritated, but I found myself laughing more than trying to contain my anger. The ridiculousness of the arguments led me to think that maybe they don’t have that many arguments left. They did tell us an emotional story or two, but the rest of the talk was mostly false facts and statements that I think most University students would question.

The talk started off with the SJP President leading us in an exercise in imagination. “Forget the Holocaust!” he implored us. “Forget terrorists and suicide bombers! Forget Hamas!” Well this is something new, I thought. He proceeded to tell us a story of a “simple Palestinian peasant” who was robbed of his land by the Zionists.

A moving story, sure enough, but what struck me was the language he used to describe the Jewish settlers, “the Zionists.” They were part of a “Jewish bourgeoisie,” and “just another group of European colonizers.” Their mission was calculated and cruel, they wanted to wipe out the simple peasants, and had a goal to create a capitalist oasis in the Middle East. These people were not Holocaust survivors, because we had been implored to forget about that. Rather they were part of an evil supremacist colonial legacy, money thirsty Jews who had no connection to the land itself.

After this emotional story, Mohammad, an activist from Gaza, talked to us via Skype. He explained that any claims of Hamas being a terrorist organization are completely unfounded. When I asked him to explain why, he told me that throughout time the “US-Israeli alliance” has “randomly” assigned movements within countries as terrorist groups. He did concede that Hamas targets civilians, but this was justified because, he explained, Israel does this only on a much larger scale.

Later on another person from SJP told us that we must support the Palestinians by participating in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. He said that we must refrain from buying such Israeli products as Ahava Cosmetics and Sabra Hummus. I actually let out a laugh here, upon which I got dirty glances from several people in the room. Supporting the BDS movement must be done to stop “the Israeli war machine.”

Another gem: In order to dispute my claim that Hamas is an anti-Semitic terrorist organization Mohammad told me that Jews have lived safely in Gaza under the governance of Hamas for a long time now. Never mind the six “Israeli spies” that were executed and dragged in the streets by Hamas just last week.

All in all, I must say I found the talk very unconvincing and it gave me hope that these students have run out of arguments. I hope that soon they will realize that it’s time they support real Palestinian interests, through advocating an end to terrorism by groups such as Hamas and supporting honest peace talks instead of spreading lies and misinformation.

About the Author
Josefin Dolsten currently lives in Jerusalem, where she is pursuing an MA in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies from Hebrew University. Previously she studied Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. She enjoys writing about religion and politics.