As the campaign to boycott SodaStream gains momentum, supporters have a new resource to use in their advocacy and education work.
The slick website burstthebubble.org, launched by Jewish Voice for Peace’s Seattle chapter, makes the case in plain language for why the carbonated beverage device manufacturer should be boycotted. SodaStream’s attempts to brand its product to consumers concerned with social responsibility is busted in a series of short videos which are simple and effective.
SodaStream’s products are assembled in a plant on occupied Palestinian land by exploited Palestinian laborers, the website explains.
Despite the corporation’s attempt to promote a picture of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence at its factory, the purpose of SodaStream’s plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial park “is not to improve the lives of Palestinians living under occupation but to pad the pockets of an international corporation,” it is stated in one of the videos.
Ninety percent of the plant laborers are Palestinians, who “have little choice but to work for the settlers who exploit the land that was theirs” because of Israeli occupation and colonization’s destruction of the Palestinian economy.
Meanwhile, “SodaStream gets kickbacks from the Israeli government for profitting from an illegal occupation,” enjoying state benefits for participating in Israel’s illegal settlement colony enterprise.
The consumer who purchases SodaStream products gives “money to a company that financially supports an Israeli settlement. The Palestinians who have been dispossessed get nothing.”
The Burst the Bubble website adds that SodaStream products are mislabeled as “Made in Israel” or with an address for a business center near Tel Aviv airport, or with the non-existent “Mishor” as the place of origin.
The reality of SodaStream’s manufacturing practice conflicts with its branding itself as an environmentally responsible choice for consumers.
“How do you sell someone a product mired in a history of war, occupation and dispossession? By convincing them that they’re saving the Earth!” one of the videos explains, adding that this type of marketing is called “greenwashing.”
“Another vanity kitchen gadget is probably not going to save the world,” the video adds.
Feeling the pressure
According to the Burst the Bubble site, SodaStream spent $180 million in marketing last year. But this hasn’t prevented it from feeling the pressure of the grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Earlier this week, Earth Day Network dropped SodaStream from its roster of official sponsors after campaigners called on it to cut ties with the corporation.
SodaStream’s bottom line also suffered because of the controversy around its spokesmodel Scarlett Johansson’s conflict of interest in representing the corporation while serving as a humanitarian ambassador for the anti-poverty group Oxfam, which opposes trade from Israeli settlements.
Johansson resigned her post from Oxfam but continues to be dogged by questions over the affair, even in a puff cover-story piece published by Vanity Fair.
When asked by Vanity Fair’s fawning reporter about accusations of serving as “the new face of apartheid,” Johnansson attributed the criticism of her role to anti-Semitism rather than addressing the substance of the criticism.
This is a tired and transparent tactic used by Israel’s apologists when they have no basis for their unprincipled support for business as usual with Israel and, in Johansson’s case, their profiteering from the occupation.