Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday Protesters at Capitola Mall Say: Boycott SodaStream, Stop Exploiting Palestinian Land!

On November 29, Black Friday protesters positioned themselves in various locations at the Capitola Mall to raise awareness about SodaStream, a product that is produced in a factory built on illegal Israeli settlements located on occupied indigenous Palestinian lands.

Santa Cruz community members wore black and held large banners that read "Boycott SodaStream." The product allows users to make flavored carbonated drinks at home.

SodaStream is sold in the Santa Cruz area at Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, Chefworks, and Macy's, Kohl's, among others, but demonstrators chose the Capitola Mall's Target store as the primary location of the Black Friday protest because of that company's overtly stated commitment to "corporate responsibility" and "responsible sourcing." Target's website has a plethora of web pages dedicated to the company's declared interest in these and other issues pertaining to environmental and social justice.

A multi million dollar advertising campaign has been launched by SodaStream to market itself as an "environmentally friendly" product which the company says will turn water into, "fresh sparkling water and soda,” but critics say there is nothing friendly about the destruction of Palestinian life, land, mineral, and water resources, and that the exploitation of these natural resources in occupied territories is not allowed by international law. They claim Palestinians do not receive any of the profits the product makes.

The company also bills itself as "socially responsible," but the Palestinians it employs do not entertain the same labor rights as those in Israel do.

Critics also point to how SodaStream erroneously describes its product as produced in "Israel," when in actuality it is produced in the West Bank industrial park called Mishor Edomim, which is located in a settlement called Ma’aleh Adumim. That area is called one of the largest Israeli thefts of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, which strategically disconnects the cities of Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Jericho.

All Israeli settlements exist illegally according to international law, and critics say SodaStream is a "settlement company" that obscures its origin by marketing its products as “Made in Israel." Activists say SodaStream should be labeled, “made in an illegal Israeli settlement."

The Black Friday action at the Capitola Mall was cosponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-Santa Cruz Chapter, Palestine Israel Action Committee (PIAC), WILPF-Santa Cruz Chapter, and Women in Black.

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