WLU ’22 — Sabra

I contacted the school’s administration to express to them how the selling of Sabra hummus in Cafe 77 makes me feel excluded from the W&L community. I explained in my emails and in-person talks with the dean and the EC’s president how Sabra is co-owned by Pepsi Co and the Strauss Group which proudly broadcasts their devotion to a mission that provides support for the Golani brigade, the most notorious brigade in the Israeli army and one that came so close to my own house in tanks and bulldozers the 2014 war and resulted in the killing of my neighbors and friends. 

My own survival everyday in the Gaza Strip is considered a miracle. My request of the school was nothing but to be neutral in the face of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and did not even ask them for any act of justice towards my people.

I explained how Sabra hummus is obviously not the only snack the school could provide. Yet, my request was faced with the “solution” of providing another option, Hope Hummus “alongside” Sabra. This, to me, was a spit in the face because none of our food should support apartheid and genocide.

What made it even worse is how the school never made any announcements to explain to the W&L community why this alternative was provided, because a lot of these members would actually never want to purchase Sabra again if they knew what it funds. I realized at that point that I had to do the job of spreading awareness on my own. I made flyers and started tabling in commons and started asking people to sign a petition to replace Sabra.

A friend of mine once texted me telling me that as soon as I left, some guys gathered all the flyers and threw them in the trash. On another incident, a student asked me if I “was allowed to be tabling in the commons”. I’ve never seen anyone else come across people tabling in commons and ask if they had a permission to be tabling. 

Another student came to yell at me and my friend when we were tabling, and associated the topic of me advocating for the human rights of my people in Palestine to my religion, and told me that I actually have to consider why my religion of Islam through the Qur’an tells me “to kill everyone who doesn’t agree with [me]”. Another student picked up a flyer from my friend when he was tabling and put in the trash right in front of him.

At W&L, some members of the community find it too much for someone to suggest helpful changes to the culture, and to ask to feel included.

WLU ’22 — Conflict

TW: Anti-semitic language

Being Jewish at W&L is a unique challenge. As someone who is white and does not wear a kippah, I am not identifiably Jewish when I walk around campus which I recognize allows me a level of privilege that other marginalized students do not experience. 

That being said, antisemitism still exists on our campus. I have had a few small incidences of antisemitism in my two years at W&L, but one in particular stands out the most. I had been hearing rumors about a boycott of Sabra hummus a while back and didn’t think much of it. 

But then I started getting sent pictures of the posters that were displayed on campus. [Image below]

The posters that contained the words “Sabra Hummus is mixed with the blood of the Palestinians.” The posters continued to make the unsupported claim that Israel is committing genocide and apartheid. 

Whether or not the student knew or intended it, these posters contain blood libel, one of the most insidious and hateful forms of antisemitism that has existed throughout history and still exists today. 

Blood libel is the accusation that Jews kill people (in the origin of blood libel, this was Christians) and then use the blood of their victims in baking matzah (an unleavened bread eaten by Jews on Passover) and then eat it.

I didn’t know what to think after seeing these posters. I felt so confused and upset.

I felt unsafe on our campus as a Jewish person who supports the existence and survival of the only Jewish State in the world. After the Tree of Life shooting happened, the W&L and Rockbridge County community rallied around their Jewish neighbors. How could this be happening? 

Although the posters were taken down at the direction of OIE and Public Safety, the student responsible for creating the posters has not been held accountable. It seems as though we’re all in favor of condemning and taking action against Nazis and white supremacists who hate Jews, but overt antisemitism coming from other outlets is not condemned by non-Jewish students and administrators.

It’s taken a while for the Israel/Palestine conflict to become a contentious topic that is talked about on our campus. 

I believe that there are many productive conversations to be had surrounding the issue. 

What I don’t find productive is starting the conversation with blood libel, antisemitism, and accusations of genocide and apartheid. It’s important that everyone who wishes to participate educate themselves about the conflict from many sides and then come to conclusions based on facts and history. 

It’s a complex issue with no easy solutions and it’s important that we remember that. I have faith in the W&L community that we can elevate this conversation to one that makes us all feel included and welcome on our campus.