BDSers never seem to have much luck when they take their fights to the food aisles. Perhaps it is the necessity of food coupled with the pleasure it brings that highlights the fact that boycotters are threatening the former and completely lacking in the latter whenever they wave their fists at a package of Israeli couscous or, now, non-Israeli hummus.
The Battle of Coucous was waged last year when BDSers declared a Day of Rage directed at Trader Joe’s for daring to refuse to strip Israeli foods from their shelves, just because the boycotters demanded they do so. The Internet buzzed with threats that hundreds of protestors would descend on Trader Joe’s stores nationwide to picket and “deshelve” the hated Israeli couscous in protest of the store following its own conscience, rather than the will of the boycotters. But by the time the smoke cleared, the only activity the threatened boycott managed to gin up was thousands of Israeli supporters buying out Trader Joe’s Israeli stock across the country.
Today, the battle has turned to hummus, not hummus produced in Israel but Sabra hummus produced in the US. While not my personal favorite brand (although I did buy a bunch of it on Buy Israeli Goods Day yesterday), Sabra is owned by the Strauss Group, an Israeli food conglomerate that does a fair amount of charitable work within Israel in areas such as education, sports and health. In addition, they make donations of money, sports equipment and recreation facilities to two units of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
“Foul!” cried the BDSers who, while spending morning noon and night claiming that their boycotts are only aimed at “The Occupation” (albeit with an infinitely elastic definition of that term), decided to go after an Israeli company selling an American-made product for supporting soldiers in their own country (the equivalent of attacking the Girl Scouts for providing cookies to US troops out of hostility to the US war in Iraq).
The first front opened up when someone contacted the Strauss Group to complain that they were offended by the company highlighting its support for the Israeli Golani Brigade that led (for some inexplicable reason) to that support being temporarily removed from the Strauss Web site. Whether this was just an over-eager response to a customer complaint or something else, the Internet was yet again ablaze with “We Win Again!” boasting by those perennial BDS losers.
Fortunately, all it took was one phone call by a West Coast Israel activist to clarify the situation, getting get the company’s Golani support back on the Strauss site. [Note to activists: It’s that easy to effect change – just pick up the phone!]
But according to the “momentum theory” of BDS whereby any single, tiny, irrelevant and temporary victory must instantly be capitalized upon, the hummus wars have moved onto campuses. The divestniks are still as far from getting a single college or university to divest from Israel as they were ten years ago, but by God they can try to get Sabra hummus removed from the cafeteria at Princeton!
Well not really. For you see, while their desire is to somehow get their complaints against Israel to appear to come out of the mouth of a prominent institution like Princeton, the final question they have posed to students in a ballot measure on the issue is whether or not to stock an additional brand alongside Sabra for hummus lovers who want to strike a pose without having to sacrifice their favorite snack.
Now I’m as much into a good BDS fight as anyone, but somehow I just can’t get myself worked up over whether or not a vote to stock two vs. one brand of condiment is going to amount to a hill of chickpeas, (even if it passes). After ten years of embarrassing failures at colleges and universities, churches, cities and towns, et al, the fact that the boycotters have been reduced to bait-and-switch ballot measures involving bean spread is the most telling detail of this whole chapter of an ongoing effort to pretend that boycott, divestment and sanction represents the opinion of anyone beyond a narrow-minded, joyless minority.