The Shmooze

Are U.S. Students Determining Israeli Corporate Policy?

By Nathan Jeffay

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The Israeli food giant Strauss has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place. Internationally, some customers have been furious at the company’s declaration that it supports the Israeli military. According to press reports, until a few weeks ago in the “corporate responsibility” section of its website it declared:

Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and to sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.

In recent months pro-Palestinian activists have been circulating this passage. This led to calls for boycotts in the U.S. of Sabra hummus (Sabra is half-owned by Strauss) and an international campaign for the boycott of Max Brenner chocolate (Max Brenner is controlled by Strauss).

In late November Strauss — to the dismay of many Israelis — removed the passage about the IDF. It has now reinstated a passage outlining its commitment to the IDF, which reads:

As part of its donations program, the Sales Division of Strauss Israel has made a contribution to the men and women who serve in the Golani brigade. The funds are designated for welfare, cultural and educational activities, such as pocket money for underprivileged soldiers, sports and recreational equipment, care packages, and books and games for the soldiers’ club.

What happened between the removal and the reinstatement? Just one thing as far as I can make out — the defeat at the boycott lobby at a so called hummus referendum at Princeton University, reported by the Forward here. Are the hummus tastes of American students really determining corporate policy in Israel?


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