BRIGHTON & HOVE PALESTINE SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN
Unrestricted Press Release: 22 September 2013
City Centre Rally and March – Saturday 28th September 2013
‘Boycott SodaStream – No business from illegal Israeli settlements in our town!’
Part of National UK Day of Action
From 12.00 noon at the Clock Tower, central Brighton
On Saturday 28th September, Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign and its supporters will be taking to the streets with the message ‘Boycott SodaStream – No business from illegal Israeli settlements in our town!’.
These events mark the end of a full year of protests against the EcoStream store in Brighton, and are part of a National UK Day of Action against the store’s parent Israeli company SodaStream. Campaigners will be drawing attention to SodaStream’s complicity with Israel’s programme of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The regular protests outside the EcoStream store in Western Road have attracted huge support from local residents and from human rights campaigners all over the country and internationally. The campaign has featured regularly in the local, national and international media.
The campaign against SodaStream is now an international one, with protests taking place throughout Europe, North America, South Africa and Austalasia. In the UK, stockists of SodaStream products all over the country are being targeted for protests. On the National UK Day of Action on Saturday the 28th of September, Pro-Palestinian campaigners will be leafleting outside local SodaStream stockists in over 20 local areas in the UK, explaining to local people how a boycott of the company is an effective tool in support of the Palestinians’ long struggle for self-determination, and asking their local shops to ‘Stop Stocking SodaStream!’
In Brighton, the Day of Action will start with a delivery of a petition with about 2000 signatures to Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion. The petition demands that ‘products made in illegal Israeli settlements should not be sold in Brighton’. At the Clock Tower at mid-day, statements of support will be read out from politicians and other well-known figures, including Keith Taylor MEP, Alexei Sayle and Miriam Margolyes. This will be followed by a march through the town, visiting local SodaStream stockists to amplify the message to local people. The EcoStream store in Western Road will naturally be included in the march.
These protests are part of a wider international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), following a call in 2005 by over 130 civil society organisations in Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/). The BDS Call urges a boycott of all Israeli companies until Israel complies with international humanitarian law, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, the rights of return of refugees and ends the siege of Gaza and the occupation of all lands occupied in 1967. The EcoStream protest is focused specifically on the Israeli programme of illegal settlement expansion, and the presence in the store of products manufactured on a key illegal settlement in the West Bank.
Notes for Editors
- The EcoStream Store, located in Western Road, Brighton, opened in July 2012. The store is owned by Sodaclub, an Israeli carbonated beverage company with its main manufacturing plant based in Mishor Adumim, an industrial area attached to the residential settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, East of Jerusalem in the Israeli occupied West Bank. Sodaclub owns the SodaStream brandname.
- The Brighton store is the company’s first in the UK. Brighton was selected because of the town’s reputed support for ‘green’ initiatives and ‘green’ politics. The store promotes itself as environmentally-friendly by selling refillable beverage bottles and SodaStream machines for making homemade soda water.
- Since shortly after the EcoStream store opened it has been the focus of regular protests by local residents who strongly object to the presence of the store, due to SodaStream’s clear economic involvement with the Israeli programme of illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, and its documented complicity in ethnic cleansing and profiteering. These protests have taken place weekly, and sometimes twice weekly. They have attracted as many as 50 regular supporters. The protests are entirely peaceful, and make no attempt to prevent the store’s customers from entering or leaving. Protesters hand out leaflets, drawing the attention of local residents to the strong links between the store and Israeli violations of international humanitarian law, and asking them to show their support by boycotting the store.
- The protests are supported by a number of local and national groups, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Boycott Israel Network, Jordan Valley Solidarity, and the Labour Representation Committee. In a statement on her website (http://www.carolinelucas.com/blog.html/2012/10/08/protest-against-sodastream-plant-in-israeli-settlement/), Brighton Pavilion MP Dr Caroline Lucas has put on record her deep concern about the presence of the EcoStream store and the complicity of its parent company in human rights abuses, and her support for the protesters’ ‘right to demonstrate peacefully in the hope of persuading the company to think about moving their manufacturing plant elsewhere’.
- Sodastream products are also sold in the UK at Robert Dyas, John Lewis, Steamer Trading, Argos, Currys, Lakeland and some Sainsbury and Asda stores. These other outlets are also the focus of protests and letter-writing campaigns.
- The expansion of Mishor Adumim settlement industrial zone, where the main SodaStream factory is based, is encroaching on the land of the Jahalin Bedouin, who are being forcibly relocated to a reservation in Abu Dis, next to the Jerusalem municipal rubbish dump. Palestinians living in the villages around Mishor Adumim are prevented from building any permanent structure under Israeli military orders. Their tents, huts, and even a primary school at Khan-al-Ahmar, are subject to demolition by the army (more details at www.scribd.com/doc/80963609/Amnesty-Briefing-Paper-on-Jahalin-Bedouin-forced-relocation).
- These building restrictions prevent the establishment of any Palestinian businesses, meaning that local Palestinians are forced to work in the settlements. Palestinians working for SodaStream in Mishor Adumim are working in the context of the occupation. In January 2012 activists from Stop SodaStream Italy (http://www.bdsitalia.org/index.php/english-menu/280-reply-sodastream) made the following statement in response to claims by the company that its workers were well treated: “the fact remains that, as subjects of an occupation regime, these workers do not enjoy civil rights (including the right of workers to organise) and are under constant threat of having their permits to work in the settlement revoked by the company at any moment. Palestinian workers often have no choice but to work in the settlements, with high unemployment rates that are a direct result of the Israeli occupation. The 2011 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report explicitly links the decline in Palestinian agricultural and industrial sectors and the dire humanitarian conditions with Israeli government policies, in particular the confiscation of land and natural resources, restrictions on movement of people and goods, and isolation from international markets. Only a colonial mindset could claim to provide jobs to the very same people whose land and freedom have been stolen.” More recently, Palestinian workers at the SodaStream were quoted on Electronic Intifada saying “SodaStream treats us like slaves” (http://electronicintifada.net/content/sodastream-treats-us-slaves-says-palestinian-factory-worker/12441).
- Palestinian agriculture is limited by the settlements’ monopoly on land and the restrictions placed on the grazing of cattle, often leading to the seizure of cattle by the army (see http://english.pnn.ps/index.php/politics/2410-the-occupation-confiscated-cows-in-the-northern-jordan-valley).
- For more information about the protests in Brighton, contact Ann on 07900 321619 or Barry on 07811 469326. For information about the wider Brighton & Hove campaign see www.brightonpsc.org, and for the national campaign, including the National UK Day of Action on SodaStream, see www.palestinecampaign.org.
- For more information on Sodaclub see http://corporateoccupation.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/targeting-israeli-apartheid-jan-2012.pdf pages 96-102 and www.whoprofits.org/company/sodastream-soda-club-group