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A (Small) Victory for Capitalism – and Israel

5:00 PM, Dec 6, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Mark this down as another win for capitalism – and Israel, too. Recently, on the Princeton University campus, a student-led referendum sought to urge “Dining Services to provide an alternative brand to Sabra hummus in retail locations on campus,” according to the Daily Princetonian. The measure failed by a vote of 1,014 to 699.

The student daily reports

Yoel Bitran ’11, president of the Princeton Committee on Palestine, which sponsored the referendum, said in an e-mail that he was excited by the high amount of student support despite the referendum’s defeat. “The main goal of this initiative was to raise awareness about Sabra and its association to Israel’s human rights violations,” he said. “In that sense we have been extremely successful.” Bitran added that PCP still hopes to convince the University to provide an alternative hummus. 

PCP had sponsored the referendum as part of a larger boycott campaign against The Strauss Group, which owns 50 percent of Sabra Dipping Company and has financially and publicly supported the Golani Brigade of the Israeli Defense Forces. Members of the brigade have been accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

It’s a victory for capitalism because, well, there just aren’t too many other brands of mass-produced hummus as tasty as Sabra’s. A vote against Sabra would’ve been a vote, most likely, for an inferior brand of hummus.

But while this quickly could be dismissed as child’s play, there’s more to it. The anti-Israel campus group the Princeton Committee on Palestine singles out the U.S.-based hummus manufacturer because of its support, through one of its partial owners, of the Israeli Defense Force’s Golani Brigade. They suggest that the Golani Brigade is responsible for human rights abuses.

Taken to the logical conclusion, PCP is making the case that anyone who fights to defend the Jewish state is, in essence, guilty of human rights abuses. 

Now, this is not to say that the Golani Brigade has always acted appropriately. But it’s fairly safe to say that PCP is not holding the Palestinians to the same standards as the Israelis. The Palestinians use their own citizens as shields, target innocent Israelis for murder, and many more equally grave offenses. How PCP believes it is standing up for human rights by going after a company with minor ties to the Israeli Defense Force (one of the most moral fighting forces of our time), and concomitantly defending the Palestinians, is ludicrous.

It’s one thing to boycott a company that supports human rights abuses and terrorism. But unless you’re ready to call an element of the IDF a terrorist entity, this should never have been supported. That this referendum garnered 40 percent of the voters at one of America’s elite colleges is a troubling sign.

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