(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.