Interfaith Coalition Launches Boycott of SodaStream

sodastream-protest

Since my previous post on the SodaStream boycott, I’ve received a number of questions regarding which specific campaign/s to support. While there have been a number of great local actions around the country, I’m happy to announce that a new interfaith coalition has just launched a national boycott effort that includes a petition as well as a spoof ad contest. I hope you will join me in signing on to this important campaign.

For more information on SodaStream, here is an excellent point by point response to the claims made by the company, courtesy of Stop SodaStream – Italy:

1. “SodaStream is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, and manufactures its products in 12 production plants distributed in many countries, including factories in China (2), Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, the US and two in Israel, one of which is Mishor Adumim … “

Even if there were hundreds of “production facilities” all over the world, it would not change the fact that the factory in Mishor Adumim is built on land stolen from the Palestinians and thus violates human rights and international law.

In any event, Sodastream’s annual report clearly demonstrates that the factory in Mishor Adumim is also the company’s main production facilities:

  • At 15,256 m2, the plant is four times larger than the headquarters in Tel Aviv, and eight times that of the other Israeli plant at Ashkelon, which produces only flavors for soft drinks.
  • The plant in China produces only “certain components”.
  • The “production facilities” in Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands and the USA are mere sales and marketing offices and refill stations for CO2 cylinders.

Source: Sodastream International Ltd. Annual Report for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2010, “Manufacturing and Production,” p. 37 and “Facilities,” p. 40.

2. “… where approximately 160 Palestinians receive full social and health services in accordance with, and exceeding, Israeli law, including pension contributions and insurance. Labor law in Israel requires an employer to pay wages and contributions 4 times higher than those required by the Palestinian Authority. If you consider that, on average, each employee is responsible for 10 Palestinian dependents, considering the rate of unemployment in the Palestinian Authority (estimated at 30%), the company provides food and shelter to 1,600 people. In addition, SodaStream also provides benefits that include: daily hot meals, clothing, transportation and overtime pay for up to 200% as required by Israeli law. “

The fact that a company such as SodaStream, which profits from the Israeli occupation regime, considers itself a benefactor of the Palestinians is downright bizarre. Even if working conditions for the Palestinians at the Mishor Adumim factory were as described (something that has been proven false in the past by the Israeli organization Kav LaOved), the fact remains that, as subjects an occupation regime, these workers do not enjoy civil rights (including the right of workers to organize) and are under constant threat of having their permits to work in the settlement revoked by the company at any moment.

Palestinian workers often have no choice but to work in the settlements, with high unemployment rates that are a direct result of the Israeli occupation. The 2011 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report explicitly links the decline in Palestinian agricultural and industrial sectors and the dire humanitarian conditions with Israeli government policies, in particular the confiscation of land and natural resources, restrictions on movement of people and goods, and isolation from international markets. Only a colonial mindset could claim to provide jobs to the very same people whose land and freedom have been stolen.

Sources:
- Kav LaOved, “Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009″; “Employees at Soda Club fired without wages (follow up report)”
- Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people: Developments in the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory

3. “Among the 700 employees at the Mishor Adumim factory are Jews, Palestinians, Christians, Russians, Ethiopians, Bedouins, and Americans. In SodaStream’s view, this is a splendid example of peaceful coexistence that will lead to economic prosperity on which everyone benefits. The company regularly celebrates the holidays of all and has fostered cultural exchange.”

To speak of “peaceful coexistence” between people who do not have equal rights and equal social, economic and political opportunities is absurd. Among Sodastream employees, there is a marked difference between the conditions of the occupiers and those who suffer under occupation. For example, just as in Apartheid South Africa the black majority was allowed to enter areas reserved for whites only in order to work, so do the Palestinians depend on the occupying power for work permits.

Furthermore, the Jahalin Bedouin, who had already been driven from their lands in the Negev in the 1950s, were then expelled from the very area where the Sodastream has its factory.

Sources:
- Kav LaOved, “Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009″;
- Human Rights Watch, Separate and Unequal, “Jahalin Bedouin and Ma’ale Adumim”

4. “As you know, Sodastream recently decided not to expand the factory at Mishor Adumim, but rather to build one inside the Green Line. The construction is already underway, as decided by the Board of Directors.”

Committing to not to expand an illegal activity, which according to the company website, Sodastream has been carrying out since 1996, counts for very little. The fact remains that the main production facilities are located in an illegal Israeli settlement in violation of international law.

Source: Sodastream web site, History of the Sodastream Group

5. “SodaStream does not currently benefit from low rents and could rent other facilities in the uncontested territories of Israel for much less. The same applies to incentives, the company enjoys the same tax incentives as any other industrial area of Israel, regardless of whether it is located in the disputed territories or not.”

Sodastream’s annual report lists among its “risk factors” the possibility, due to negative publicity and boycotts, of having “to transfer a significant portion of manufacturing activities to a location outside of the West Bank” that would “limit certain of the tax benefits for which we are currently eligible”.

In fact, according to the web site for the Mishor Adomim Industrial Park, it is designated as “Development Zone ‘A’”, which enjoys the highest tax incentives from the Israeli state.

And finally, the Palestinian territories are occupied, not “disputed”, as recognized by the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, among others.

Sources:
- Sodastream International Ltd. Annual Report for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2010, “Risks related to our Location in Israel,” p. 17
- Adumim Industrial Park, Business Benefits
- International Court of Justice: Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; International Committee of the Red Cross; Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention: Declaration,

6. “With regards to Coop Sweden, yes it is true that on July 19 they decided to suspend sales of these products, however it is also true that, after a brief investigation, they then decided to put them back on the shelves.”

Swedish activists inform us that COOP Sweden claims to have the results of an investigation that justify, in their view, the marketing of Sodastream products. COOP Sweden has refused, however, to share the report with the Swedish activists. If Sodastream would like to provide us with the report, we would be happy to comment on it.

7. “SodaStream is also under tight control by the Office for Environmental Protection of Israel, leading to surprise inspections, and the company adheres to the highest environmental standards.”

It is well known that Israeli and international companies consider Israeli laws on environmental protection inapplicable with regard to factories in the occupied West Bank. According to 2009 report by the Israeli organization B’Tselem, Israel does not enforce environmental laws in the settlements and industrial areas in the occupied West Bank.

As for surprise inspections, according to Bloomberg Businessweek and the Corporate Watch website, the Sodastream Factory in Mishor Adumim is “the most heavily protected in the area, with multilevel electric fencing protecting its perimeters and cameras monitoring everything going on outside of them.”

Sources:
- B’Tselem, “Foul Play: Neglect of wastewater treatment in the West Bank
- Corporate Watch, “Occupation Industries: The Israeli industrial zones
- Bloomberg Businessweek, “EU Eyes Exports from Israeli Settlements

8. “Following the publication of false reports, the company also decided to host visits and inspections, in particular social audits, including the internationally accepted BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) audit, with the conclusion that they no corrective actions are necessary.”

Clearly, an auditing organization that certifies a factory located in the occupied Palestinian territories has no credibility whatsoever.

The Stop Sodastream campaign will continue to challenge the deceptions of Sodastream, organizing initiatives to reveal the truth that the company wants to hides and promoting a boycott of its products.


12 Comments on “Interfaith Coalition Launches Boycott of SodaStream”

  1. i_like_ike52 says:

    Another 250 people killed in Syria yesterday, and the bodies of around 80 young people killed execution style discovered near Aleppo, but the “human rights” people have more important things to do…..close down SodaStream near Ma’alei Adumim and throw the Palestinians there out of work. I think everyone now sees how committed to “human rights” these people really are. It is not “human rights” that these people care about, simply bashing Israel.

    • umrayya says:

      Wow, Ike, I am starting to appreciate how deeply you care about Syria and Syrians. I had no idea, and thank you with all my heart.

      So, what are you doing to help them?

      • i_like_ike52 says:

        I never claimed to be a univseralist human-rights activist committed to social justice. I am an Israeli and as such I am very worried about the situation in Syria. Assad wouldn’t have had to face this bloody uprising had he invested in peace and developing his country instead of arming himself to the teeth with useless weapons which were meant primarily to scare his neighbors and awe his own people with his supposed willingness to confront Israel. He hoped that giving his people an exciting policy of militarism would divert their attention from the repression, corruption and economic stagnation of their own society. We see that they finally had enough, but the danger is that other radical groups, with a similar agenda to that of Assad will take power there and condemn the Syrian people to more decades of the same, failed policies. Thus, the welfare of the Syrian people IS a vital interest to Israel and all of Syria’s neighbors. However, the main props of Assad, Russia and China are not vulnerable to Israeli pressure due to Israel being a small country. However, shoud Americans or Europeans finally wake up and stand up for the “human rights’ they CLAIM they care about, they could organize effective pressure on China and Russia by way of boycotts and demonstrations to force them to stop propping Assad up and to try to organize some sort of democratic opposition groups to take power when he finally falls and not let the country be taken over by jihadists.

      • umrayya says:

        Ah, I see, Ike. You couldn’t possibly care less about the welfare of the Syrian people. Thanks for clarifying that.

        Thanks, also, for clarifying just exactly how out of touch you are with reality when it comes to Syria, Syrian people, and Bashshar Al Asad. Here are some actual facts for you, though I don’t doubt you prefer the nonsense you apparently have memorized from propaganda brochures.

        Who is not investing in peace?

        - Bashshar Al Asad has made more than one attempt to reach out to Israel and negotiate terms of peace, which Israel has ultimately rejected.
        - Bashshar Al Asad is also a signatory to the Arab League Peace Proposal which has been on the table for ten years, and which for ten years Israel has rejected even as a starting point for negotiations.
        - Despite the fact that Israel has made several overt attacks on Syria during his tenure, Bashshar Al Asad has not retaliated. In not retaliating for Israel’s attacks on Syria he has invited severe criticism from citizens and others who have called him a coward and other things as well.

        Since Bashshar Al Asad took over from his father his advanced include but are not limited to

        - developing Syria’s manufacturing and export industry such that Syria has become the primary source in the region for a number of goods including but not limited to clothing (men’s, women’s, children’s and infants), accessories, baby supplies and equipment, and fabrics.
        - taking steps to improve and modernized Syria’s agriculture industry, including introducing drip irrigation where appropriate and other “green” technologies that have reduced water usage in some areas, and allowed previously uncultivated areas to be brought under cultivation..
        - Improved transportation infrastructure, including highways, roads, buses, and trains. Since I travel quite a bit while in Syria, I have directly observed and benefited from these improvements.
        - Rebuilding infrastructure in the Old City of Damascus, including new sewers, and street resurfacing, while retaining the historical character of the area.
        - Improving tourist sites and areas, and other steps to increase tourism.
        - Instituting projects improving infrastructure and appearance of urban areas.
        - Improving technological infrastructure, making internet, including high-speed and wireless internet, widely available. Free wireless is available in most cafes and restaurants now, and 4-G is now the standard in most homes.

        FYI, I have observed these changes and others personally over the years.

        Interesting that you speak of “useless weapons which were meant primarily to scare his neighbors and awe his own people with his supposed willingness to confront Israel”. As a matter of fact there is no actual evidence of Asad arming himself to the teeth with any sort of “useless weapons”, and there are consistent denials by Syrian officials of the existence of such “useless” weapons. One might be skeptical of these denials, but given the absence of evidence, one should at least make it clear that these are merely allegations, and not a certainty.

        And no discussion of being armed to the teeth with “useless weapons” meant primarily to scare neighbors and awe one’s own people is complete without mention of Israel’s hundreds of nuclear bombs, not to mention the fact that Israel’s is the most militarized society in the world, and that Israel is one of the most belligerant and aggressive countries in the world.

        The funny thing about much of what you have said about Bashshar is how far it is from Syrian reality while at the same time closely resembling Israeli behavior. Syria hasn’t had an “Exciting policy of militarism” since Bashshar took over as President – quite the contrary, in fact. Prior to the current tragic mess, military matters have not been on the minds of most Syrians at all. The reality is that in Syria until the recent civil war no one has been aware of any “exciting policy of militarism” at all. On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, Israel has been determined to be the most militarized society on earth.

        As someone who spends considerable time in Syria as part of that society, I can assure you that the society has not been “stagnating” – quite the opposite, in fact.

        I’d love to address the rest of your nonsense, but I have other things to do today. Perhaps I will come back a bit later and finish up, perhaps not.

      • umrayya says:

        FYI, Ike, instead of retaliating for Israel’s recent bombing inside its territory Syria is following proper diplomatic procedure and has filed a formal complaint with the UN.

        So, let’s see. Israel bombs, Syria goes to the international body whose job it is to resolve disputes between member countries.

        And you criticize Syria? Hmmmmmmm.

  2. Dave Boxthorn says:

    1/ From the link you provided about the ‘interfaith coalition’: ‘and members of the Catholic, Lutheran, Mennonite, and Quaker traditions.’

    What the ___ does that mean? Some congregations that belong to those groups? Individual members who belong to those groups? Clergy that belong to those groups? Active? Lapsed?

    What?

    2/ A bit of advice (and am I not always giving good advice?). If you want people to believe that the BDS movement is a mass movement then its a good idea not to show photos with just 18 people in them.

    I would start at 100 and work my way up from there.

    I can easily find photos of obviously tiny movements who can show photos of less than 100 members.

    3/ The most recent report that is referenced is from Dec 31 2010. That’s over 2 years ago. Has anything changed. Possibly, possibly not. Maybe somebody can get a more recent report.

  3. rosenberg says:

    I AM CALLING FOR A NATIONAL BOYCOTT BY JEWS OF ANY INTERFAITH HOLOCAUST PROGRAM WHERE HATIKAVAH IS INTENTIONALLY EXLUDED DUE TO MUSLIM PRESSURE OR CLERGY WHO SUPPORT THE PALESTINIAN CAUSE. PLEASE GET THE WORD OUT. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  4. mivasair says:

    CBS rejects #SodaStreamSuper Bowl PR gambit, tells it to revise ad #BDS – http://ow.ly/hhI8e

    • Steve Grover says:

      CBS rejected SodaStream’s original commercial because it contained logos that look very similar to competitors logos that also purchased spots for Super Bowl commercials. This has nothing to do with BDS

  5. Richard Teitelbaum says:

    This is distressing. I frankly love my Sodastream machine and had no idea about it’s location. Is there a competitor that makes a good machine?

    Richard

  6. Reblogged this on INCISITY and commented:
    It really is a dandy product idea. But the taste of occupation is way to bitter and additive.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,296 other followers