Shoppers and employees at the Fresh Grocer’s flagship store at 40th and Walnut Street were surprised by a choreographed flash dance that was performed in the store this afternoon by activists calling for a boycott of products that support Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians. Approximately twenty neighborhood residents, dressed in black and wearing sequined red accessories, danced in unison and sang an adaptation of a popular song by Lady Gaga to deliver their request that the store and its customers stop selling and stop buying Sabra and Tribe hummus products.
Sabra & Tribe products directly subsidize Israeli human rights abuses through their support of the Israeli Defense Forces and infrastructure of the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
The store’s security staff attempted to intervene and stop the disruption, but the flash dancers were able to finish performing their act that included lyrics urging Fresh Grocer that shoppers “Don’t buy into Israeli Apartheid!” As customers watched and applauded, the dancers left the store chanting “No Justice, No Chick Peas!” in a humorous play on the popular “No Justice, No Peace!” chant. They then repeated their performance on the sidewalk, directly in front of the store.
“As a customer and as a Jew, I’m hoping that Fresh Grocer will pay attention to the concerns of its community and stop carrying Sabra and Tribe hummus, said Hannah Schwarzschild, a member of Philly BDS. “Not only would it be a significant step in support of justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, but it would also help educate our own community about the power of our consumer choices.”
Organizers said they had previously requested meetings with Fresh Grocer management to request stores to stop carrying Sabra and Tribe products, but their requests had been ignored. Fresh Grocer, based in Drexel Hill, has eight supermarkets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. Philly BDS activists said they are asking Fresh Grocer to stop stocking Sabra and Tribe because of Fresh Grocer’s stated commitment to meeting the needs of the communities in which their stores are located.
“We don’t think the communities where Fresh Grocer is doing business — West Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, and Germantown, for example — would appreciate their stores helping to sustain the racial discrimination and human rights violations that Sabra and Tribe hummus are supporting in Palestine and Israel,” Schwarzschild said.
“This campaign marks a new and exciting era of Philadelphia’s involvement in the growing global BDS movement, which is building strong support amongst labor unions, NGOs, religious organizations, universities, grocery stores, and individuals,” commented Mendal Polish, another organizer with Philly BDS.
Philly BDS is creative partnership, including Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Arab and non-Arab organizations working for human rights in Israel/Palestine. The campaign to Boycott Sabra and Tribe has been endorsed by Philadelphia Jews for a Just Peace; SUSTAIN: Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now!; Adalah-NY: The New York Coalition for the Boycott of Israel; Brandywine Peace Community; Build Bridges Not Walls: Grandparents for Peace in the Middle East; Global Women’s Strike-Philadelphia; Hudson Valley BDS; Jews Say No!; Middle East Crisis Response; Network of Arab-American Professionals in Philadelphia; Nico Amador, Training for Change; Payday Men’s Network; Temple Students for Justice in Palestine; Whites in Anti-Racist Solidarity; and Working Group for a Grassroots Movement.