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Macy’s stops stocking SodaStream

Alternative Information Center | October 19, 2014

The department store chain Macy’s has stopped carrying Israeli settlement products of SodaStream, according to the Wall Street Journal. Macy’s has been targeted the past year by pro-Palestinian activists, who have called on it and other major chains to stop carrying the SodaStream home carbonation system and soda flavourings due to the company’s role in the military occupation of Palestine.

This news comes amidst sinking share prices of the company, which earlier this month announced preliminary results for the fourth quarter. It projected $125 million in revenue in the quarter and operating income of $8.5 million. That’s well short of the $154.4 million of revenue and $17.6 million in operating income expected by analysts. In the third quarter of last year, the revenue was about the same, but operating income of $18 million was more than double what it expects this year. Its shares have dropped by 45% so far this year.

Jim Charnier, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt, told the Wall Street Journal that he had been expecting a poor quarter when he learned early in September that Macy’s had stopped carrying SodaStream and saw other negative figures from the market.

Macy’s did not respond to questions by North American activists concerning SodaStream.

For more than a year, religious and human rights organizations throughout the United States have urged Macy’s, Target and other corporations to de-shelve SodaStream products because of the company’s complicity with Israel’s occupation and settlements. SodaStream products are largely manufactured in the West Bank Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone.

“We are very disappointed in our recent performance,” said Daniel Birnbaum, Chief Executive Officer of SodaStream. “Our U.S. business underperformed due to lower than expected demand for our soda makers and flavors which was the primary driver of the overall shortfall in the third quarter. While we were successful over the last few years in establishing a solid base of repeat users in the U.S., we have not succeeded in attracting new consumers to our home carbonation system at the rate we believe should be achieved. The third quarter results are a clear indication that we must alter our course and improve our execution across the board. We have already begun a strategic shift of the SodaStream brand towards health & wellness, primarily in the U.S., where we believe this message will resonate more strongly with consumers….”

SodaStream states that calls for boycott are indeed a “risk factor” and a cause for “rising political tensions and negative publicity”, although this official notice makes no mention of boycott. However, the company has declared in the past that moving its factory out Mishor Adumim would require the expenditure of resources and, more importantly, “limit certain of the tax benefits for which we are currently eligible.” These benefits stem from the fact that the Israeli government provides economic incentives, including tax deductions, for businesses operating in West Bank settlements.

John Lewis in the UK had been the latest retailer to stop stocking SodaStream products and protests forced a SodaStream store in Brighton, UK, to close recently. SodaStream also had to deal with a public relations headache early this year when the U.K. charity Oxfam criticized its brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson for working with the settlement company. Johansson stepped down from her role with Oxfam and defended the company.

Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, also sold its stake in SodaStream this past August.

“Soros Fund Management does not own shares of SodaStream,” Michael Vachon, a spokesman for the fund, told The National, declining to comment further on when and why it sold the shares.

In a May filing with the US markets regulator, the fund said it had bought 550,000 shares of SodaStream during the first quarter. Bloomberg reported that the fund acquired the shares for $24.3 million, with the new holding making up 0.3 per cent of the fund’s $9.3 billion stock portfolio.

“After pressure from Soros partners in the region and the world, they dropped SodaStream and promised, in private letters so far, to issue guidelines similar to those adopted by the EU to prevent any investment into companies that sustain the Israeli occupation and settlements in particular,” said Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian activist and co-founder of the BDS movement.

The activist group Adalah-NY continues its campaign against SodaStream following the decision by Macy’s, and at the end of October will visit New York stores that stock and sell SodaStream, letting owners and managers know why they should stop. Adalah-NY notes that this planned week of visits will be used to develop its future NYC-based campaign against SodaStream.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oxfam’s PR firm helping to greenwash Sodastream

By Tom Anderson | Corporate Watch | April 2, 2014

There has been a lot of negative media attention in the last few months on Sodastream, an Israeli fizzy drinks company with a factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim. A partnership between Oxfam and Scarlett Johansson ended recently after an international campaign put pressure on the charity to end its relationship with Johansson because she was undertaking ongoing work for Sodastream.

However, a high profile US public relations (PR) firm, which boasts of its “ethical business practices”, is providing services to both Sodastream and Oxfam America. Fenton Communications states on its site that “We do not take on clients that we do not believe in ourselves” and claims that it works “for companies and foundations advocating social change”. Fenton’s corporate social responsibility rhetoric and greenwash doesn’t bear more than a few minutes of scrutiny. The PR firm has a client list which includes large multinationals such as General Mills and Unilever. General Mills jointly own the General Mills (Pillsbury) plant in the Atarot settlement Industrial zone, while Unilever only pulled out of the Barkan settlement industrial zone after years of pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. Both companies are also responsible for selling, marketing and lobbying hard for processed foods globally, which are damaging to people’s health. One of Fenton’s other clients is Oxfam America.

In response to the public campaign about Scarlett Johansson, Oxfam stated: “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador… Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.” Why then does Oxfam America find it acceptable to work with a PR firm that includes Sodastream on its client list?

It is not surprising that Sodastream feels the need for a PR firm. The company sells consumer products, marketing them as ‘green’. It relies on maintaining a positive public image. The international boycott campaign against the company has been growing apace and is taking its toll. Sodastream has reported a loss in the last three quarters and its share price is suffering.

Why not contact Oxfam encouraging them not to work with a PR firm doing business with a company working in Israel’s settlements:

Oxfam America office

226 Causeway Street 5th Floor

Boston, MA 02114-2206

United States

info@oxfamamerica.org

+1 617 728 2594

+1 617 482 1211 (Toll-free 1-800-77-OXFAM)

 

Oxfam GB office

Oxfam House

John Smith Drive Cowley

Oxford OX4 2JY

United Kingdom

enquiries@oxfam.org.uk

+44 1865 472 600

+44 1865 473 727

April 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roger Waters Asks Scarlett Johansson to Reconsider Sodastream Support

Pink Floyd’s bass player Roger Waters stated on his FaceBook page that he has written several letters in private to actress Scarlett Johansson due to her support of the Israeli company Sodastream which is located within an illegal Israeli settlement.

The following is from Waters to Johansson:

Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett. I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There’s no fool like an old fool. A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of SodaStream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize.

I would like to ask that younger Scarlett a question or two. Scarlett, just for one example, are you aware that the Israeli government has razed to the ground a Bedouin village in the Negev desert in Southern Israel 63 times, the last time being on the 26th of December 2013. This village is the home to Bedouin. The Bedouin are, of course, Israeli citizens with full rights of citizenship. Well, not quite full rights, because in “Democratic” Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.

I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws (they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space. But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johansson.

Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and “Equal rights.” Really? Equal Rights? Do they?

Do they have the right to vote?

Do they have access to the roads?

Can they travel to their work place without waiting for hours to pass through the occupying forces control barriers?

Do they have clean drinking water?

Do they have sanitation?

Do they have citizenship?

Do they have the right not to have the standard issue kicking in their door in the middle of the night and taking their children away?

Do they have the right to appeal against arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment?

Do they have the right to re-occupy the property and homes they owned before 1948?

Do they have the right to an ordinary, decent human family life?

Do they have the right to self determination?

Do they have the right to continue to develop a cultural life that is ancient and profound?

If these questions put you in a quandary I can answer them for you. The answer is, NO, they do not.

The workers in The SodaStream Factory do not have any of these rights.

So, what are the “equal rights” of which you speak?

Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think SodaStream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.

Love R.

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney buys SodaStream unit in jab at Oxfam

Al-Akhbar | February 4, 2014

The employment minister of Canada, a strong supporter of Israel, has waded into the spat over Oxfam breaking with US actress Scarlett Johansson for endorsing an Israeli soft drink firm that operates in the occupied West Bank.

Minister Jason Kenney, who is also minister of multiculturalism in Canada, extended an ironic thank you to Oxfam for bringing the Israeli firm SodaStream to his attention.

Last week Johansson made headlines when she quit her role as Oxfam ambassador after the NGO said her promotion of SodaStream was “incompatible” with her role at the international aid agency.

SodaStream, which manufactures machines for making carbonated drinks at home, has 25 factories around the world, including one that operates in a settlement east of Jerusalem.

“Bought a nice SodaStream unit at the HudsonsBayCo. Thanks to Oxfam for the tip,” the minister said in a tweet.

The minister’s message also featured a photo of a SodaStream beverage machine with its brand name clearly visible.

It also bore the letters “BDSfail” in reference to the campaign calling for “boycott, divestment, sanctions” of Israeli products and goods.

Oxfam calls for a boycott of any Israeli firm operating in settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

Canada is a strong backer of Israel, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Israel late last month.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An ugly ending to Oxfam-Johansson saga

By Jonathon Cook | January 30, 2014

Here is Oxfam’s official and very brief statement on the ending of its eight-year relationship with Scarlett Johansson, who served as a “global ambassador”. It seems clear that Oxfam – very belatedly – gave her an ultimatum following her recent decision to accept another ambassadorship, this time promoting SodaStream, whose factory is in an illegal settlement in the West Bank.

Oxfam states Johansson’s “role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador”. It was either us or them. Johansson stepped down, making clear she prefers to work for a company that breaks international law over an organisation concerned with humanitarian issues.

Oxfam’s dithering and its final efforts to allow Johansson to present this as a resignation rather than a dismissal reinforces the point I made yesterday about how money talks, even for Oxfam. The charity needs pretty ambassadors to raise funds and to gain media attention. Treating Johansson harshly, even now when the relationship is over, might put off other Hollywood starlets who hope to burnish their humanitarian credentials – at least as long as the work doesn’t interfere with their opportunities to make money, even when it comes at the expense of other people’s freedom.

No one comes out of this affair looking good.

www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/reactions/oxfam-accepts-resignation-scarlett-johansson

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian church boycotts companies in Israeli settlements

MEMO | May 31, 2013

Canada’s largest Protestant church, the United Church of Canada, has decided to boycott three Israeli companies as part of its campaign against products manufactured in illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The “Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel” campaign is set to start on Saturday and will last for a year. It calls for “education and for economic action by United Church members to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories.”

Last week, the church’s governing General Council approved the proposal to boycott Keter Plastic, SodaStream and Ahava which all operate in illegal settlements. The move builds on last year’s agreement to boycott products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem which the Church regards as the principal obstacle to peace in the region.

A statement on the United Church’s website said that in the coming months it “will engage in dialogue” with the three companies and request them to cease production in settlements: “They will be informed that failure to do so will result in economic action against their products.”

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment