Protesters ask Target to drop Israeli settlement product SodaStream

Activism
on 37 Comments
(Photo: Adalah-NY)

(Photo: Adalah-NY)

(Editor’s Note: Last week activists in Minneapolis delivered a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to Target headquarters as part of a nationwide campaign calling on the company to stop selling SodaStream products. Below is a report from Adalah-NY on a protest held this past weekend in New York City.)

On Saturday, December 7, 100 activists from Adalah-NY, Jewish Voice for Peace-NY, Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS, and elsewhere protested outside Target at Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn as part of the National Days of Action against SodaStream (photos). Between November 29—the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People as well as Black Friday—and December 10—Human Rights Day—organizations have been calling on Target to de-shelve SodaStream, which is produced in violation of international law in one of Israel’s largest Jewish-only settlements, Ma’ale Adumim. The activists are supporters of the Palestinian-led movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) pressuring Israel until it complies with international law.

At Saturday’s protest in Brooklyn, activists handed out postcards outlining SodaStream’s abuses and encouraging concerned shoppers to ask Target management to remove the product from store shelves. Many passersby indicated they would follow up. An Egyptian man operating a food cart in front of the mall asked what was happening and, when given a postcard, joined in the protest. He later hung a sign on his cart reading, “Palestinians Hunger for Human Rights.” A man originally from Ramallah—drawn in by colorful signs depicting olive trees behind barbed wire and SodaStream bottles as pillars in the separation wall that cuts through West Bank towns—also stayed with the group, thanking the New Yorkers for their participation in the struggle for Palestinians’ freedom and self-determination.

Some protesters blew soap bubbles that drifted over signs reading, “Burst the Bubble of Occupation” and “Do Not Buy Apartheid Soda.” One demonstrator held silvery balloons with slogans urging viewers to “Boycott SodaStream” and “Free Palestine.” The Rude Mechanical Orchestra contributed catchy marching band tunes and musical backing to demonstrators’ songs. The holiday carols included “SodaStream Is Obscene,” a version of “Jingle Bells,” and the world premiere of “Soda, Baby,” set to the tune of “Santa Baby”: Soda cutie / Tootie fruity sour or sweet / A treat / Now time to take to the streets / Soda cutie / Support the global BDS fight / And boycott SodaStream tonight!

Adalah-NY’s Riham Barghouti said, “The Social Compliance page on Target’s website begins, ‘We hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards, and we expect our partners to do the same,’ and goes into detail about its superior sourcing practices. So we wonder why Target carries SodaStream, which is produced on stolen land in an illegal West Bank settlement by Palestinians who are not protected by the same rights as workers in Israel.”

Protester Martha Cameron noted the heavy presence of private security guards and New York Police Department cops, both uniformed and plainclothes. Speaking with a curious shopper on the plaza in front of the mall, she was made by police to leave the area. “Public space is being eroded here,” she said, “while stolen land is being exploited by illegal Israeli settlements, and Palestinian human rights are being attacked by the Israeli government and companies such as SodaStream.”

Though SodaStream claims its products are made in Israel, they are actually made in Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of Ma’ale Adumin. Ma’ale Adumim is built on Palestinian land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in violation of international law. The settlement’s size, its location, and its network of segregated roads—upon which only Israeli citizens may travel—deny Palestinians freedom of movement within their own territory. By operating in a settlement, SodaStream directly sustains Israel’s illegal and discriminatory settlement policy. Additionally, far from being environmentally friendly, SodaStream contributes to pollution, as the Ma’ale Adumim settlement dumps more than 1,100 tons of waste daily in a landfill in occupied Palestinian territory.

The BDS movement has been growing in the U.S. and around the world since the 2005 Palestinian call for global actions to bring an end to Israel’s abuses and violations of international law. A full list of international protests during the 2013 Days of Action against SodaStream is available online.

For photos of the protest see here.

(Photo: Adalah-NY)

(Photo: Adalah-NY)

About Adalah-NY

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel is a grassroots strategic alliance of concerned organizations and individuals in New York, formed to demand an immediate, unconditional, and permanent end to U.S. and U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression in the Middle East.

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37 Responses

  1. Mike_Konrad
    December 10, 2013, 2:51 pm

    We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel.

    This double standard is biased.

    • Hostage
      December 11, 2013, 5:40 am

      We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel. This double standard is biased.

      Speak for yourself. Many of us here support AI, HRW, other international NGOs, and the efforts of UN treaty bodies to hold violators accountable. We do boycott products from other countries, not just Israeli ones.

    • Woody Tanaka
      December 11, 2013, 7:54 am

      We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel.

      This double standard is biased.

      The notion that israeli crimes can’t be addressed until some arbitrary “other’s” crime is to is an expression of anti-Palestinian racism.

    • Talkback
      December 11, 2013, 8:10 am

      Mike_Konrad : We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel. This double standard is biased.

      So you do support not only Israel’s, but also China’s human rights violations?

    • Qualtrough
      December 11, 2013, 8:16 am

      “Yeah, but whaddabout [insert name of country with horrible human rights record]?” is a really weak defense strategy.

    • RoHa
      December 11, 2013, 9:08 am

      “We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel.

      This double standard is biased.”

      So what? It doesn’t make Israeli actions right.

    • Citizen
      December 11, 2013, 9:20 am

      @ Mike_Konrad
      MW folks don’t support any country’s human rights violations. Does the US give China $3 Billion in free cash per year? How many wars have we fought for China?

    • talknic
      December 11, 2013, 12:32 pm

      @ Mike_Konrad “We all buy Chinese made goods from a country with more human rights violations than Israel.

      This double standard is biased.”

      Uh huh … link to google.com.au

  2. Krauss
    December 10, 2013, 5:35 pm
    • Hostage
      December 10, 2013, 7:14 pm

      The Romanian government has said it will stop sending construction workers to Israel if Jerusalem does not pledge they won’t be working in the West Bank.

      The two sides have been trying to reach a new agreement for about two years but have failed despite Israel’s shortage of workers in the construction sector.

      link to haaretz.com

  3. HarryLaw
    December 10, 2013, 5:52 pm

    SodaStream manufacture over 90% of their carbonating device in the illegal settlement of Mishor Adumin with just a few components sub contracted out to Chinese companies. According to the World Trade Organization, the European Union and our own United Kingdom Trade Descriptions Act 1968 section 36 rules of origin, they all agree that a product has a country of origin when “For the purposes of this Act goods shall be deemed to have been manufactured or produced in the country in which they last underwent a treatment or process resulting in substantial change”. Section 16 of that Act is here:-
    16 Prohibition of importation of goods baring false indication of origin.

    Where a false trade description is applied to any goods outside the United Kingdom and the false indication, or one of the false indications, given, or likely to be taken as given, thereby is an indication of the place of manufacture, production, processing or reconditioning of the goods or any part thereof, the goods shall not be imported into the United Kingdom.
    Another part of the Act describes a false trade description as having to be false to a material degree. This product is obviously not made in Israel as far as I can see, this product should not even get past customs in the UK, let alone be offered for sale,questions are now being asked of the competent Authorities.

    • HarryLaw
      December 10, 2013, 6:07 pm

      Just one small point on the above comment, most of this Act has been repealed and replaced with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, but all those sections mentioned above are still in force and are still enforceable as part of our legislation.

    • JeffB
      December 11, 2013, 6:49 am

      They aren’t boycotted because your country’s elected government wants to remain friendly with Israel. Israel institutionally does not recognize the distinction the UK wants to make between west and east of the green line, and has consistently refused to separate economies. So a boycott of the Israeli settlements will have to become a boycott of Israel. To quote Gould your ambassador, “we don’t always agree on everything [settlements, from context] the important thing is that we disagree as friends, and we will stand alongside Israel as a friend.” A policy of total rejection of the right of the Israeli people to organize their country’s economy as they believe it should be organized is a rejection of their notion that they should be a self governing people. To put it in South Africa terms, your government supports “constructive engagement” not the boycott position of regime change.

      Now you might reject that characterization that the UK boycott party’s position with respect to Israel is effectively regime change. Forget settlements, they are more or less asking for an Israeli dictatorship because the positions they want to see implemented (in particular RoR) are passionately despised by the Israeli people. I can’t even think of any dictatorships that draw their support from the domestic population (as opposed to being a puppet of a foreign power) that go for policies that widely hated. So the UK government is quite right not to agree with the UK boycott position.

      The government of the UK’s position on settlements is that whatever policies are going to be imposed are going to needed to be supported at least by a substantial minority of Israelis if they aren’t going to end up becoming a source of instability. The English have a lot of experience with trying to get countries to change their mind by the use of force. And they know it takes a lot of force sustained over a long time. So they are rejecting force. Settlements there is some level of domestic support in Israel but strict adherence to the green line is rejected by the population. The old city and Jerusalem being an obvious example.

      So in keeping with the idea of realistic goals, your government’s policy is defacto recognizing the annexation of the large settlements while applying some pressure to prevent the settlements from further spreading which is what the roadmap and other peace process documents have said. Ma’ale Adumim is a settlement I’m sure they would like to see disbanded by Israel. I suspect that they know that the current government would defend Ma’ale Adumim and behavior changes belief. Once the Israeli people had suffered to defend Ma’ale Adumim, they would most likely be even more passionately attached to it.

      Sodastream is under a 1/2 billion dollar company (that’s globally not just the UK, and revenue not profits which are a 1/10th that high). A Sodastream boycott is nothing but a symbol. Realistically what do you think a Sodasteam boycott by the UK changes?

      • Talkback
        December 11, 2013, 8:18 am

        JeffB: So in keeping with the idea of realistic goals …

        Why? If you will it, it is no dream, said Hertzl. It took Jewish foreigners only half a century to establish an Apartheid Junta which keeps Nonjewish inhabitants expelled, denationalized, disenfrenchized, dispossessed, occupied or besieged to maintain a regime dominated by Jews.

      • amigo
        December 11, 2013, 9:01 am

        “So a boycott of the Israeli settlements will have to become a boycott of Israel.”Jeff B.

        The Apartheid nation can avoid that, or not.

        Either way , the Apartheid nation is on it,s way down the tubes.

        Tic Tic.

      • Sumud
        December 11, 2013, 9:16 am

        Realistically what do you think a Sodasteam boycott by the UK changes?

        I hate to break it to you Jeff but the end-goal of the BDS Movement is not a UK Soda Stream boycott.

  4. Sibiriak
    December 11, 2013, 7:10 am

    JeffB:

    A Sodastream boycott is nothing but a symbol. Realistically what do you think a Sodasteam boycott by the UK changes?

    If nothing else, it further delegitimizes the Israeli apartheid state.

    • JeffB
      December 11, 2013, 7:55 am

      @Sibiriak —

      it [the sodastream boycott] further delegitimizes the Israeli apartheid state.

      Exactly! It isn’t meant to change actual Israeli policy but to express disapproval. It is essentially the governmental version of throwing a tantrum, “I don’t like X so I’m going to make lots of noise about it”. The government of the UK is not looking to express disapproval they are looking to constructively work towards a solution. Which is why they weren’t taking Harry Law’s position.

      The UK government wants to engage Israel not delegitimize it. I get you don’t agree. But there is no reason to criticize the UK government for not engaging in acts designed to advance a goal they don’t desire.

      • Sibiriak
        December 11, 2013, 8:11 am

        JeffB:

        Exactly! It isn’t meant to change actual Israeli policy but to express disapproval. It is essentially the governmental version of throwing a tantrum.

        Let’s see.. you transform delegitimization into mere “disapproval”, then you transform disapproval into “throwing a tantrum”. Have you ever studied logical fallacies? If so, I’m sure you know the name of the one you’ve just committed.

        In any case, the delegitimization of the Israeli apartheid state may not have immediate effects on Israeli policy, but you can be sure the long term effects on Israel–and the world’s relationship with Israel– will be considerable. That is why Zionists are so agitated by the prospect of delegitimization.

      • JeffB
        December 11, 2013, 11:48 am

        In the 1940s and 1950s Israel was a much weaker country and despised by its neighbors. The USA was expanding it’s oil influence and so was at best mildly hostile. The Soviet Union switched sides in 1951 and began attacking Israel in the UN while arming its enemies. By 1954 the USA went to openly hostile and cut off arms sales. That’s delegitimization to a degree that Israel doesn’t come close to facing. By 1957 the Israelis had reversed it. They had scored themselves a solid arms contract with the USA and (in all but name) a formal vassal relationship that served her well for 56 years.

        What concretely does it even mean to say “Isreal isn’t legitimate” at this point? The state has existed for many decades. Mostly it seems to mean “I want to say mean stuff in public about Israel”. People say mean stuff about Turkey, they say mean stuff about Iran, they say mean stuff about North Korea or South Korea. Those states aren’t going to disappear because people say mean stuff about them.

      • Hostage
        December 13, 2013, 8:05 am

        In the 1940s and 1950s Israel was a much weaker country and despised by its neighbors.

        Justifiably so. It had violated their territorial integrity and had reduced the bulk of the Palestinian Arab population into penniless refugees living without adequate food or shelter in their countries. It had internally displaced the bulk of the remaining Palestinian population, pillaged their land and property, placed them under martial law, and put many of the able bodied persons among them in forced labor camps. The Arab Higher Committee refused to even discuss repatriation of the refugees to Jewish controlled areas of Palestine, due to the likelihood they would be held as virtual hostages, used as political pawns, and suffer further persecution at the hands of the Jewish State, i.e. refoulement. See for example, the cable from The Minister in Syria (Keeley) to the Secretary of State Transmitting the Arab Higher Committee Note to the Arab League on the Refugee Situation. link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu

        To add insult to injury, Israeli government officials expressed disinterest when they were advised that many of the women, children, and aged among the refugees – who posed no security threat – would die before the end of the winter if they couldn’t return to their homes in Palestine. Israel said that it reserved the right to replace them with Jews from Arab countries who had expressed a desire to come to Palestine. See:
        * link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu
        * link to digicoll.library.wisc.edu

        P.S. That’s what we mean illegitimate. A State established by use of force and forced population transfer in violation of the UN Charter.

  5. Citizen
    December 11, 2013, 9:23 am

    Protesters on Target. Hooray!

  6. irishmoses
    December 11, 2013, 11:15 am

    I was in Costco a couple of nights ago and noticed a big Sodastream display. I checked one of the boxes and saw the device was “made in Israel”.

    I’d like to see some pressure put on Costco as well.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      December 12, 2013, 4:52 pm

      I checked one of the boxes and saw the device was “made in Israel”.

      I did the same in a belgian supermarket. On the box I found lots of mentions of licensed production in many countries and in many languages, but I couldn’t find anything about ‘made in israel’.

      • Bumblebye
        December 12, 2013, 5:36 pm

        Here in the UK they blight our supermarkets too – Asda (Walmart) stocks them (and the box also says “made in Israel”), and the somewhat more upmarket Lakeland has them in its catalogue.

  7. Hostage
    December 11, 2013, 11:56 am

    I checked one of the boxes and saw the device was “made in Israel”. I’d like to see some pressure put on Costco as well.

    Our Treasury Department directives prohibit labeling products from the West Bank and Gaza as “Made in Israel” –See 62 FR 12269 – Country of Origin Marking of Products From the West Bank and Gaza link to gpo.gov

  8. Dutch
    December 11, 2013, 12:09 pm

    Good news from the Dutch BDS Movement, as Vitens, one of Holland’s leading water companies, yesterday ended cooperation with Mekorot, Israels national water company. Last August another prestigious Dutch company, Royal Haskoning/DHV, decided not to participate in a Jerusalem project.

    Slowly, but probably a lot faster from now on, the notion that companies should stay away from any project that might benefit the occupation is getting mainstream.

    • Hostage
      December 11, 2013, 12:20 pm

      Slowly, but probably a lot faster from now on, the notion that companies should stay away from any project that might benefit the occupation is getting mainstream.

      Here is a development that is certain to help:

      Something momentous happened in Switzerland last week—national prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into one of the world’s leading gold refineries, for pillaging Congolese natural recourses. Pillage, of course, is a war crime. If the case leads to a conviction, it will represent the first ever instance of corporate responsibility for an international crime, and the only time since Nuremberg that pillage of natural resources has featured in a criminal trial.

      link to opiniojuris.org

      See also “Punish Companies That Pillage” link to nytimes.com

  9. irishmoses
    December 11, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Are there any penalties for labeling violations? It would be nice if they could be forced to pull all the product off the shelves and disgorge all profits from prior sales.

  10. Hostage
    December 11, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Are there any penalties for labeling violations?

    I believe so. The applicable section of the US Code that provides for enforcement of Treasury Decisions on country of origin markings is 19 USC § 1304 – “Marking of imported articles and containers”. It provides for:

    (i) Additional duties for failure to mark
    If at the time of importation any article (or its container, as provided in subsection (b) of this section) is not marked in accordance with the requirements of this section, and if such article is not exported or destroyed or the article (or its container, as provided in subsection (b) of this section) marked after importation in accordance with the requirements of this section (such exportation, destruction, or marking to be accomplished under customs supervision prior to the liquidation of the entry covering the article, and to be allowed whether or not the article has remained in continuous customs custody), there shall be levied, collected, and paid upon such article a duty of 10 per centum ad valorem, which shall be deemed to have accrued at the time of importation, shall not be construed to be penal, and shall not be remitted wholly or in part nor shall payment thereof be avoidable for any cause. Such duty shall be levied, collected, and paid in addition to any other duty imposed by law and whether or not the article is exempt from the payment of ordinary customs duties. The compensation and expenses of customs officers and employees assigned to supervise the exportation, destruction, or marking to exempt articles from the application of the duty provided for in this subsection shall be reimbursed to the Government by the importer.
    (j) Delivery withheld until marked
    No imported article held in customs custody for inspection, examination, or appraisement shall be delivered until such article and every other article of the importation (or their containers), whether or not released from customs custody, shall have been marked in accordance with the requirements of this section or until the amount of duty estimated to be payable under subsection (i) of this section has been deposited. Nothing in this section shall be construed as excepting any article (or its container) from the particular requirements of marking provided for in any other provision of law.

    link to law.cornell.edu

    • irishmoses
      December 11, 2013, 2:33 pm

      That sounds really promising.

      How would you go about getting this enforced? Who would be the ideal plaintiff?

  11. Hostage
    December 11, 2013, 4:24 pm

    How would you go about getting this enforced? Who would be the ideal plaintiff?

    I don’t think there is a private right of action. The WTO and US International Trade Commission policies on country of origin markings are based upon the consumers right to know.

    Under the terms of the code cited above, you should only need to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The products aren’t eligible for duty free entry under the terms of the trade agreements concerning Israel or the West Bank and Gaza, unless they are manufactured in “qualifying industrial zones”.

    You could also contact the Federal Trade Commission about unfair or deceptive practices involving import commerce with a foreign nation under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 USC § 45 – Unfair methods of competition unlawful; prevention by Commission link to law.cornell.edu

    • irishmoses
      December 12, 2013, 10:39 am

      It looks like they have 4 plants, the largest is in the West Bank, the other 3 in Israel proper. link to en.wikipedia.org

      I imagine that gives them enough wiggle room. I doubt any high level bureaucrat at FTC or Customs would be willing to slap down an Israeli company and probably would claim that since 3 out 4 manufacturing sites are in Israel, their “Manufactured in Israel” claim is largely accurate.

      I wonder if the BDS folks are aware that Costco is selling Sodastream?

  12. HarryLaw
    December 12, 2013, 1:04 pm

    Irishmoses @”I imagine that gives them enough wiggle room”. No, I don’t think so, the main plant manufacturing the carbonating device is in the illegal settlement of Mishor Adumin, the facility in Ashqelon produces syrups and flavors, which are usually sold as extras to the main item. There is no dispute that the Mishor Adumin factory produces over 90% of the carbonating device, this was admitted in the Nasdaq [stock exchange]report in 2010. According to all the metrics that make up where a product is deemed to be manufactured, [according to the WTO and European Union,] SodaStreams device is undoubtedly manufactured in the West Bank.

    • irishmoses
      December 12, 2013, 3:20 pm

      This should promoted as a major item on college campuses. It has all the right ingredients: manufactured in an illegal West Bank settlement; a baldfaced lie about where it was manufactured; a clear violation of US law. Perfect. Students could start picketing Walmarts, Targets, Costcos, and any other retailer that handles this illegal product.

      JVP should take a look at this.

      • Hostage
        December 12, 2013, 3:32 pm

        It has all the right ingredients:

        You should add that enforcement doesn’t cost a dime, since the perpetrator is billed for the government’s costs.

  13. HarryLaw
    December 12, 2013, 4:23 pm

    See also, Who profits, SodaStream, a case study for corporate activity in illegal Israel settlements. Here..link to whoprofits.org

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