Open Letter to Park Slope Food Coop Gazette

Dear Gazette:

This letter, originally submitted on June 23, 2015, was intended as a response to Barbara Mazor’s June 11 letter, which claimed that BDS allegations regarding Soda Stream were unsubstantiated. Mazor’s claim, however, runs contrary to the body of letters published in the Gazette, which were replete with factual references. Nevertheless, I’m again providing a list of reports documenting SodaStream’s violation of labor, environmental, and human rights laws.

I have served as Liaison Officer for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, D.C, was a volunteer for 8 years with Human Rights First in New York, and a member of the National Lawyers Guild. The Guild issued “In The Name of Security” in 2002, following its fact-finding mission to the West Bank along with Amnesty International, which detailed the destruction of Palestinian culture and civil society by Israel:

First, there is “SodaStream: A Case Study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements”.

Next, the Italian BDS website cites Kav LaOved’s report criticizing SodaStream for its labor and environmental violations.

A 2011 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report linked the decline in Palestinian agricultural and industrial sectors and dire humanitarian conditions with Israeli government policies, in particular the confiscation of land and natural resources, restrictions on the populace’s mobility, and isolation from international markets.

The UN also issued a report regarding SodaStream’s relationship to the occupied territories.

The fact that the Palestinian territories are occupied, and not “disputed”, has been legally recognized by the International Court of Justice, the International Red Cross, and the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, among others.

A 2009 B’Tselem report, “Foul Play: Neglect of wastewater treatment in the West Bank“
, noted that Israel fails to enforce environmental laws in the settlements or in industrial areas in the occupied West Bank. See, also, Corporate Watch- Tracking Corporate Complicity in the Occupation of Palestine.

As for “surprise inspections”, according to Bloomberg Businessweek and Corporate Watch.com, the Sodastream Factory in Mishor Adumim is “the most heavily protected in the area, with multilevel electric fencing protecting its perimeters and cameras monitoring everything going on outside of them.”

Regarding the credibility of human rights lawyers, and international human rights workers, many anti-BDS letters have characterized these independent sources of information as being inaccurate and untruthful, without producing any evidence demonstrating their lack of integrity.

Yet, Stop BDS has received huge infusions of cash from billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, a GOP kingmaker with ties to organized crime. Last May, Adelson convened a secret meeting in Las Vegas that reportedly raised $150 million for distribution to local Stop BDS chapters. Are we to believe that their information is unbiased, accurate, and credible?

Cooperatively yours,

Carol Lipton

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3 comments

  1. Thanks, everyone who has taken the time to read this posting. I greatly appreciate it. Supporters of BDS in the Coop have been fighting a very uphill battle later, as reported in Mondoweiss and Indymedia. The Coop’s Secretary, Jesse Rosenfeld, with the help of General Coordinator Joe Holtz, helped push through a change to our bylaws that was illegal, as it did not pass with a 2/3 vote. They did this to up the percentage needed to approve of a boycott to 75%, a move made to derail our efforts to get a resolution voted on to boycott SodaStream. This, after months of putting off the vote, and a constant stream of letters accusing us of “hate speech” and “divisiveness”. Because their sensibilities are offended, which don’t want to acknowledge the human rights of Palestinian people, we’re being divisive.

  2. I’m a Palestinian. And I don’t think BDS helps us at all. Bashing Israel isnt the same thing as being pro palestinian.

  3. You’re a Palestinian living in what country? And why don’t you think BDS helps Palestinians? All the Palestinian rights groups that I know in the US are in favor of BDS. The fact that you’re using the expression “bashing Israel” makes me wonder who you are. The boycott against SodaStream has been written about in Electronic Intifada, which interviewed a Palestinian worker in the Soda Stream factory’s new location in the Negev, where labor conditions are as bad as Jim Crow in the US. Palestinians are assigned the most distasteful, menial jobs, and Israelis are assigned the better positions, and also spoke of 60 hour work weeks and employees being treated “like slaves”.

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