Monday, November 4, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends Buy SodaStream!

One of this year’s most hotly promoted items is the SodaStream soft drink machine.  It “turns water into sparkling water and soft drinks,” and is touted as being good for the environment (because of the bottles and cans that aren’t going into the landfills!) 

From the Soda Steam website:

Making carbonated water and soft drinks is simple! Turn tap water into sparkling water in under 30 seconds, with no clean-up. Enjoy the freshness and convenience of homemade soda and protect the environment at the same time. No heavy bottles to carry, store at home or throw away. Fizz to your taste and add the flavor of your choice to make your favorite drink. Simple to clean and reuse. With a variety of colors and silhouettes, you'll be sure to find a soda maker to match with any decor.

SodaStream plant in Ma'aleh Adumin settlement
What a wonderful invention! – who could resist?  People who care about human rights, that’s who!!  What the advertisements don’t tell you about Soda Stream is that their plant is built on land stolen from Palestinian families and occupied with military force.  That’s right – it’s built in an illegal (according to international – and even Israeli! – law!) Israeli settlement, specifically Ma’aleh Adumin, located just outside of Jerusalem. 

In the fine print, you may read that SodaStream and its “carbonation kits” are “made in Israel.”  False – they are manufactured in Palestine.  And yes, the company does hire Palestinian workers – albeit at lower wages than their Israeli counterparts and with few, if any, benefits.  And of course those Palestinian workers are subject to security checkpoints to get to work every day (see March 13, 2013 blog post “Checkpoints”)!

Palestinian Workers waiting to pass through checkpoint
What about those environmental claims?  Maybe we should overlook the human rights issues in favor of protecting the environment?  Well, think about it!  Why is SodaStream (and dozens of other Israeli manufacturing plants) located in Palestine and not Israel?  If you guessed that the environmental protection laws are far more stringent in the latter – Bingo! 

The Israeli manufacturers of SodaStream are free to pollute the water, the soil and the air.  They are free to let industrial waste run down the hills (because settlements are always built on TOP of hills!) and into the (Palestinian) farmland below.  They’re free to use the water that could otherwise be used to irrigate olive trees and other crops, and power that could otherwise be used to heat and light homes.

Because of all these factors, SodaStream has become a “poster child” for the Boycott part of the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions (BDS) trinity that many individuals and organizations are supporting.  The United Methodist Church (of which I am a member) and the Presbyterian Church of the US have both voted to boycott settlement-made products.  The United Methodist Kairos Response (, offers, among other resources, a list of settlement-made products (including SodaStream), as well as detailed information on the “whys” behind the boycott.

I came home from Palestine with an abiding belief that BDS is the best chance that we in the so-called “civilized” world have of ending the Occupation.  As I often explain, “It worked in South Africa.”  Those of you reading this in my home town of Portland (which is planning a SodaStream Boycott demonstration for “Black Friday”), or other US cities (many of whom have held or will hold events around this and other settlement-made products), may want to support these efforts, either by participating in the events or, at the very least, refusing to purchase this product – and telling the retailers why!  (If you like the concept, there are other products that do the same thing and are made in a much more humane environment!)

And, no matter where you are, you may want to surf the web ( and are good places to start) or “Google” for information on supporting boycotts of SodaStream and other settlement-made/Israeli labeled products. 

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