- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
SodaStream, the increasingly popular home carbonation system, may seem like a politically innocuous product — even a virtuous one, as it reduces the number soda bottles consumers have to buy. But an international controversy has erupted over where the SodaStream is manufactured — the Mishor Adunim instustrial park at the Ma’ale Adunim Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
With SodaStream, currently more popular in Europe than the United States, planning to launch its first SuperBowl commercial this Sunday in a bid to expand its share of the American market, a coalition of anti-occupation groups have called for a boycott:
The land where the SodaStream factory is located was illegally confiscated by the Israeli military occupation authorities from Palestinian owners. Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace and violate international law.
Since 1968 the US government has called on Israel to stop building and expanding settlements in the West Bank.
Companies should not profit from products that are made on stolen property or that perpetuate the Israeli occupation of the West Bank
SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, meanwhile, has defended his company on the grounds that it is providing jobs for Palestinians:
“We don’t strengthen or support the occupation,” he said. “What we’re doing is taking a facility in the occupied territory and giving Palestinians a career and economic benefits. I’ve got to laugh when they think we’re on the wrong side of this. We’re part of the solution. We build bridges, not walls.”
The activists counter that by saying the company is merely taking advantage of low-wage labor in the West Bank.
SodaStream has made social responsibility part of its marketing strategy, even sponsoring an environmental "rally" with fake, branded t-shirt wearing protesters in New York last year to draw attention to the overconsumption of plastic and glass bottles — which one can combat by buying a SodaStream, naturally. So it’s a bit ironic that it’s now the target of a campaign by actual protesters.