Sabra Hummus is made by Sabra Dipping Company LLC, which is 50% owned by the Israeli company theStrauss Group in a joint-venture partnership with PepsiCo (the Strauss Group also owns 100% of Max Brenner, see below). The Strauss Group is the second largest Israeli food and beverage company and is widely touted as one of the great successes of Israeli industry.
The Strauss Group supports the Israeli army and specifically, the Golani Brigade, an “elite” unit with a history of severe human rights abuses. On its website, the Struass Group presents this support under the banner of “Corporate Responsibility,” proudly proclaiming its special relationship with the Golani Brigade in the subsection entitled “In the Field with Soldiers” (Update Nov 6th, 2010: This page of their website has been revised. CLICK HERE for a screen-shot of how it appeared on Oct 9th, 2010):
“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 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.”
Historically, the Israeli army has been a flagrant violator of human rights and international law. Even in this context, the Golani Brigade has attracted particular attention. According to a January 2009 article in Ha’aretz Daily, the Golani Brigade “is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.”
“Breaking the Silence", a group composed of ex-Israeli soldiers, has documented numerous cases of Golani Brigade involvement in human rights abuses. For example, in November 2008, members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some, as the BBC news describes it, “of a sexual nature,” and some about the Golani Brigade. In December 2005, a Golani Brigade officer was convicted for beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to cut off his penis.
Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was a member of the Golani Brigade. A 1995 New York Times article on Amir and the Golani Brigade presented the following portrait of the Brigade’s behavior:
“One day reporters came upon some of them [Golani Brigades] in a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, dragging youths into a bus packed with soldiers beating their clubs on the steel seat frames in unison and chanting wildly: ‘We are Golani! We are insane!’….
‘In Golani, everybody hits,’ Mr. Amir’s comrade, Mr. Nagar remembered. . . . During searches in Jabalaya, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Nagar said, ‘The officer says, before breaking into a house, give them a 10,000 mile tune-up.’”
The Times article noted that in addition to Amir, “Three men who had served in Golani have committed widely publicized murders of Arabs and an Israeli peace campaigner.”
Sabra’s annual sales represent about 40% of the $312 million market for refrigerated dips and spreads in the United States. The company’s August 2010 relocation from Astoria in Queens, New York, to Richmond, Virginia, has affected 154 workers.