Two Hummus Solution

Two Hummus Solution

Princeton University students recently rejected a proposal to stock an additional brand of hummus dip besides Sabra hummus. Pro-Palestinian students favor adding a new hummus choice, saying their only chickpea dip option is Israeli-owned Sabra, a company they accuse of having ties to the Golani Brigade, a troubled and violent Israeli military unit.

Some facts:

1. Sabra hummus was developed by an American company based in Queens, New York, later acquired by an Israeli company, the Strauss Group. At present, the giant PespsiCo corporation has a 49% ownership stake in Sabra. The joint venture is headquartered in Westchester, with a factory in Virginia.

2. The Israeli partner in Sabra hummus had “adopted” Sayeret Golani, the Golani Brigade, back when it was called the Special Reconnaissance Platoon. This Israel Defense Forces unit has recently been accused of illegal violence against Palestinian civilians. Corporate “adoption” consists of supplying free snacks to the troops. We do not know if chickpea products created collateral damage in occupied territories or were used to abuse civilians.

3. The Israeli-based hummus partner has actually “un-adopted” the Golani Brigade, and more Americans know about Golani Brigade controversies, so the protest was not without effect.

4. Before the campus controversy, Sabra hummus was included in the “Support Israel, Buy Israeli” campaign of the Jewish Federations of North America. In the case of Sabra, identification of the chickpea dip joint venture as Israeli is 49 percent inaccurate.

5. The Princeton University mascot is the tiger. The unofficial nickname of the Golani Brigade is Ha’Namer Ha’Me’ufaf, the Flying Tiger.

6. “Sabra” is a nickname for native-born Israelis of Jewish descent, and the hardy sabra cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica, prickly pear or nopal ) is a symbol of Israeli nationhood. Perhaps the brand name’s symbolism is more important to protesters than Sabra ownership shares or “support the troops” corporate sentiment.

7. Sabra hummus is the best-tasting mass-produced chickpea dip consistently available in the continental United States. Rejection of the “two hummus solution” by Princeton students may simply reflect this.

8. The Princeton protest provided a tasty treat for headline writers:

“Dipping into Hummus Again,” George S. Hishmeh,

“Students Against Hummus, Not Hamas,” Greg Gutfeld,

“Princeton U. students decide: One hummus among us,” Giri Nathan, The Times of Trenton.

“Bah-hummus-bug! What a silly debate,” Editorial, Newark Star Ledger.

 “Princeton Students Reject Dip Into Geopolitics of Hummus,” The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 “No Justice, No Chickpeas!”

“Princeton students hold dippy anti-Israel hummus vote on politically correct campus comestibles,” editorial, New York Daily News.


Image by Mike Licht (no tigers or chickpeas were harmed in creating this mashup). Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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6 Responses to “Two Hummus Solution”

  1. Hungry Globetrotter (@HungryGlobetrtr) Says:

    The politics of food knows no borders!

  2. adele Says:

    The Sabra cactus plant actually pre-dates Israel. Shocking, I know.

    When touring the Palestinian destroyed villages in Israel, you will still actually see the original sabra cactus plants. All Palestinian villages had these plants and some used them as fences and barriers.

    Sabra, i e Cactus plant, in Arabic means patience or endurance, thus it symbolizes the suffering of the Palestinians who were uprooted from their own homeland 60 years ago and are still suffering all kinds of calamities by the Israeli occupation. However, Cactus cant be uprooted because it endures all kind of weather, and after the Israeli occupier demolished and devastated all the Palestinian villages, the Sabra is still enduring and standing.

  3. hughthewineguy Says:

    While it won’t describe as effectively your brand-led hipster affiliation to political and social causes, it’s in fact REALLY EASY TO MAKE YOUR OWN HUMMUS PEOPLE!! Give it a go. It’s far more satisfying than all this hand-wringing carryon.

  4. Mike Licht Says:


    If you’re wondering why there is activity on this year-old blog post, see:

    “Park Slope Coop’s Israel boycott vote pits human rights against hummus,” Brian Braiker, The Guardian

  5. adele Says:

    Also, Mark Bittman of the NYT tweeted this link earlier today.

  6. Mike Licht Says:

    Adele & hughthewineguy:

    “Recipe: Hummus With Sun-Dried Tomatoes,” Mark Bittman, New York Times, February 6, 2008.

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