On March 29, UMass Boston student Justice of Palestine launched a petition to boycott the famous brand, Sabra, from UMass Boston dining services. This move wasn't born in just a moment, rather it was a step up to a justified campaign that was launched at the beginning of the semester. Just within a few days, lots of students have signed the petition that has been posted on the Instagram page, and the numbers continue to rise by the day.
This all began with a letter sent from the UMass Boston SJP to Andy Allen, Sodexo’s general manager; Keven Moquin, Sodexo’s Retail operations manager; and Cathleen Jordan, Sodexo’s Operations Director of Residential Dining, on March 8, 2022, urging all three to remove Sabra brand products off UMass Boston dining services. The letter states, “Providing Sabra on our campus directly supports Israel’s apartheid system of military occupation, settler colonization and disregard of the humanity of the Palestinian people” (1). The letter then continues to explain the various reasons that lead to this factual conclusion and how supporting Sabra, by default, means supporting all the atrocities that Israel does to the Palestinians in occupied Palestine.
Three days later, UMass Boston dining services reacted quickly and swiftly by permanently removing the products, replacing them with Cedars, a local Massachusetts brand. This quick reaction was happily received by SJP and the UMass Boston community who was involved and aware of what was going on. SJP even celebrated this and thanked everyone involved on their Instagram page, giving credit to the quick reaction by the dining services.
Unfortunately, ten days later, the decision to permanently remove Sabra was retracted. The dining services went on to justify the decision made by having customers make a choice of what they want to buy from the campus. Not having customers choose from only one brand, but letting them have a choice of which brand they want to buy, between Cedars and Sabra.
In my view, I do not see the UMass Boston dining services' decision to retract and bring back Sabra as a successful one, rather it shows a lack of knowledge of the more important global issues around. Bringing Sabra on the campus and selling it means that the university does not have an issue with them, and by doing so they ignore the fact that Sabra, as a company, supports the Israeli Zionist apartheid state in occupied Palestine. There is no choice to be made when supporting an aggressor, as we have seen UMass Boston support many causes and protests against aggression, such as the BLM movement and the Ukrainian conflict. There has been a standard set at UMass Boston in the last few years to support equality, environmental sustainability and social and racial justice. Sadly, they have taken a step back with their set standards with the recent decision made to bring back Sabra” To continue with what we have been taught as students and to uphold the standards long fought, Sabra needs to go. De-shelving means more than just removing a hummus product to both myself and many students. It sends a message to the company, and whoever supports it, that aggression against Palestinians is not tolerated at the UMass Boston campus.