Vassar College Says Ban on Israeli Foods ‘A Mistake’

Dining department banned Israeli hummus brand Sabra

October 2, 2015

Following what advocates of the movement to boycott Israel hailed as a major victory, officials at Vassar College reversed a ban on Israeli food products late Friday, calling it a "mistake" after questions from the Washington Free Beacon.

Advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to wage economic warfare on the Jewish state, celebrated what they claimed was a major victory in their battle against Israel when Vassar College’s dining department banned the Israeli hummus brand Sabra.

However, the ban was lifted Friday afternoon following inquiries from the Free Beacon as to why the school had decided to back the BDS movement.

The reversal of this decision is a blow to BDS advocates who have seen their efforts thwarted on many college campuses across the nation.

Vassar’s branch of Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group known to promulgate anti-Semitic propaganda, praised the school’s dining services on Thursday for banning the Israeli food product from campus facilities.

"After speaking with Campus Dining, SJP received an email promising that the Retreat will stop selling Sabra Hummus, once its supplies end by this Friday," SJP said on a Facebook page affiliated with Vassar. "Shelves will be re-stocked by Cedar’s Hummus. SJP will be meeting later with Campus Dining to ensure that no other products that support Israeli apartheid will be found in the Retreat."

"Boycotting Sabra Hummus, however, is just one part of our work against apartheid in historic Palestine," the group wrote. "As Vassar students, we are obligated to end Vassar’s complicity in and take a principled stand against Israeli apartheid."

Following requests for comment, Vassar officials on Friday said that this ban was a "mistake" and that Israeli-brand hummus would continue to be sold on Vassar’s campus.

"The decision about Sabra hummus was a mistake and our cafeteria is now stocking both the Sabra and Cedar’s brands," said Jeff Kosmacher, Vassar’s director of media relations and public affairs.

"There was no ban. Campus Dining made and communicated an initial decision in error and ultimately decided to take a different step," said Kosmacher in response to a follow-up email asking him to elaborate on this decision. "We have nothing else to say on the matter."

Vassar has been listed among the top 10 most anti-Israel campuses in America.

News of the ban attracted outrage in the pro-Israel community and prompted the creation of a counter-campaign called Save the Hummus.

Students were directed to lend their names to a petition demanding that Vassar continue to sell Sabra hummus.

"On the afternoon of October 1, 2015, Vassar College Campus Dining confirmed its intent to stop selling Sabra Hummus at the Retreat by the end of this week," the group states on its website. "Not only does this decision deprive the women and men of Vassar of the most delicious tasting hummus in the world (proven fact!), Campus Dining’s knee-jerk reaction to the extreme political views of a handful of students has turned Vassar College into a simple pawn in a larger, partisan, political debate. Save Sabra Hummus! Sign our petition!"

Members of SJP and other organizations have continued to push the BDS movement on college campuses across the nation. However, in recent months, their efforts have hit multiple roadblocks, as university officials and others refuse to go along with these efforts.

"I welcome Vassar’s decision to reject the hateful movement to delegitimize Israel," said Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. "Vassar students can make a meaningful contribution to peace between Israel and her neighbors, but boycotts are divisive and stifle voices that are seeking a solution."

Published under: Anti-Semitism