(Philadelphia, 12-18-2010) –Philly BDS, the local campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, brought holiday caroling to the sidewalks of West Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. The group of singers, often joined by supportive passers-by, offered a spirited short program of Hanukkah and Christmas songs with lyrics revised to reflect support of Palestinian human rights. The caroling began outside the Fresh Grocer flagship store at 40th and Walnut Streets, and continued outside the Fu-Wah grocery on South 47th Street. These two stores are targets of the Philly BDS call for businesses to stop selling Sabra Hummus and Tribe Hummus, both of which support Israeli human rights abuses of Palestinians.
“We want to remind people that Israel continues its human rights violations as we speak. Gaza is under siege, and just two years ago Israel launched a brutal attack on Gaza, killing close to 1400 people, most of whom were women and children,” said Kate Zaidan, one of those singing. “It’s wonderful to spend time with family this time of year, but we ask that people not place Sabra and Tribe hummus on their holiday tables.”
In late October, Philly BDS launched the Sabra and Tribe Hummus boycott campaign with a flash dance in the Fresh Grocer store including rewritten lyrics to Lady Gaga’s song, “Telephone.” The YouTube video of the flash dance has been viewed more than 50,000 times and has sparked similar actions in cities around the country. Saturday’s caroling is the latest public action of a growing national movement of Palestinian human rights activists to boycott the Sabra and Tribe hummus brands.
Last month, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Strauss Group, a co-owner of Sabra hummus, had removed its support for the Israeli military’s Golani Brigade from its English-language site (though not its Hebrew site) in response to pressure from the global BDS movement against Israel. The Strauss Group has since modified its English website, renewing its support for the Golani brigade, a military unit that is responsible for numerous human rights violations.
The Osem Group, owner of Tribe Hummus, is a prominent endorser of Israel’s Jewish National Fund (JNF). Since 1948, the JNF has played a key role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes as well as the disappearance of Palestinian heritage through an elaborate village-razing and tree-planting campaign.
In 2005, 171 organizations representing Palestinian civil society issued a call for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel until Israel complies with international law—ending its occupation of Palestinian lands, dismantling the “separation barrier” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, granting full and equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognizing the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their country. Organized in the vein of the anti-Apartheid movement against the South African government, the BDS movement has burgeoned globally over the past five years, with hundreds of individual campaigns targeting Israel’s economic, academic, and cultural institutions.
Philly BDS is a creative partnership working for human rights in Israel/Palestine as part of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.