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(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
PRINCETON, New Jersey — Princeton University students voted Monday in a campus-wide referendum on weighty issues in the Middle East, but the immediate concern was something a bit less complicated: hummus.
The student group Princeton Committee for Palestine is calling for university-run stores to offer alternative brands of the Middle Eastern chickpea dip. The group says the only brand currently available at the university's stores is Sabra.
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Some students say the brand, owned by PepsiCo and Strauss Group, is linked to human rights violations because Strauss has supported members of the Israeli military.
The pro-Palestine student group has been pushing for the university to boycott and get rid of its investments in companies that make donations to parts of the Israeli military that it says violate human rights.
Ilya Welfeld, a spokeswoman for Sabra, which has offices in Queens, New York, and Richmond, Virginia, said Sabra only makes donations in North America — and none of them are political.
But the Strauss Group, an Israeli food conglomerate, says on its website
that it makes contributions for the "welfare, cultural and educational
activities" of members of the Israeli military.
Students seeking the referendum made it happen by collecting 200
signatures. If the effort is successful, it would mean the student
government would make a formal request to the Ivy League school's
administration to provide additional brands of hummus.
The pro-Israel student group Tigers of Israel opposes the referendum.
The group says the allegations raised by the other side are sketchy.