Call to Action: Write to Oxfam about Israel’s illegal settlements and Scarlett Johansson’s “ambassadorship” with SodaStream.
Earlier this month, SodaStream announced that Hollywood actress Scarlett Johanson woud become the global face of SodaStream. Johansson is currently also one of Oxfam’s Global Ambassadors. In a statement in response to the news that Johannson has become the face of SodaStream which is located in the Occupied West Bank in violation of international law, Oxfam noted that:
“Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”
Oxfam, however, has so far refused to break ties with Johansson. In response to this failure, the grandson/grand nephew of Oxfam’s founders has written to Oxfam calling on them to break ties with Johannson, saying:
Scarlett Johansson, by endorsing the kind of SodaStream propaganda that underwrites the Israeli occupation, is acting as an ambassador for oppression.
In response to her accepting the sponsorship deal with SodaStream, Johannson has since issued a public statement which seeks to whitewash Sodastream’s profiteering from Israel’s militiary occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.
CAIA in Melbourne is asking all supporters of human rights and the Palestinian people to write to Oxfam and let Oxfam know that Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson is no longer a suitable Global Ambassador for an organisation which supports social justice.
You can write to the Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia via this link https://www.oxfam.org.au/my/contact_us
You can also support the American and British campaigns to ask Oxfam to break ties with Johansson:
Here is a model letter which you are welcome to copy or adapt:
Dear Ms. Szoke,
I am writing to express our disappointment that Oxfam Global Ambassador and Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson has become the Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream, an Israeli settlement manufacturer.
Although SodaStream products are labeled as”Made in Israel,” its main production site is in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomin, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. As a result, SodaStream enjoys cheap land and water, confiscated from the indigenous Palestinian owners; a captive Palestinian labor force; tax benefits; and lax regulation of environmental and labor protection laws.[i]
By choosing to locate its factory in a settlement, SodaStream is actively supporting Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank.[ii]It is inappropriate that a Global Ambassador for Oxfam like Johansson would lend her name to support a company that abuses Palestinian rights, especially considering Oxfam officials have labeled settlements “one of the main obstacles to achieving a just, lasting and stable peace in the area”[iii]and have concluded that Israel’s settlement policy is causing poverty and suffering.[iv]
In July 2012, Oxfam International released a report, “On the Brink,” detailing the impact of Israeli settlements on Palestinians in the Jordan Valley. The report recommended that the European Union take urgent action to press the Government of Israel to end the construction of settlements. On July 24, 2012, Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International’s Executive Director, said: “Europe’s condemnation of Israel’s settlement expansion is welcome but words alone mean nothing when people’s lives keep worsening…EU governments must match their words with urgent and concrete measures to push for an immediate end to settlement construction and the unlawful demolition of Palestinian civilian infrastructure.”[v]
In October 2012, Oxfam Italy cut its tieswith Paola Maugeri over her role as a SodaStream PR Ambassador. In 2009, Oxfam International cut ties with Kristin Davis over her role as spokesperson for cosmetics company Ahava, which operates in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.
While SodaStream claims to be building bridges and supporting Palestinians, a May 2013 interview with a Palestinian factory worker calls into question these claims. According to this worker:”They treat us like slaves. This has happened many times on the assembly line: when a worker is sick and wants to take sick leave, the supervisor will fire him on the second day. They will not even give him warning or send him to human resources, they will immediately fire him.” He goes on to describe other harsh working conditions including working 60 hours a week and not being allowed to pray.[vi]
Another Palestinian whose family used tolive on the land where Mishor Edomin now stands says: “We are not allowed to go near them [the factories]. They took our livelihood to build them and we got evacuated for them to build their factories. After they built them there were no resources to live from for us. The gains are nothing compared to what was lost. They destroyed our lives and then gave a few people a job. It is nothing.”[vii]
We urge Oxfam to take action and press Johansson to end her deal with Soda Stream or to end its relationship with the actress to send the message that supporting companies that profit from occupation and human rights abuses is unacceptable.
[i] “SodaStream: A Case Study for Corporate Activity in Illegal Israeli Settlements.” http://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/WhoProfits-ProductioninSettlements-SodaStream.pdf
[ii] “SodaStream: Building walls, not bridges.” http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/07/2013711145016751282.htm
[iii] ” Oxfam Italy cuts ties with Paola Maugeri over involvement with SodaStream” http://bdsitalia.org/index.php/english-menu/509-cs-oxfam-eng
[vi] “SodaStream ‘treats us like slaves,’ says Palestinian factory worker.” http://electronicintifada.net/content/sodastream-treats-us-slaves-says-palestinian-factory-worker/12441
The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Melbourne) opposes Israel’s Prawer plan and supports the Prawer Won’t Pass call to action.
Visit CAIA Melbourne on Facebook: (click here)
Stop Prawer Call to Action:
DAY OF RAGE, 30 NOVEMBER 2013 #StopPrawerPlan
On 24th of June, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan, which if implemented will result in the destruction of more than 35 unrecognized villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. The Prawer plan is the largest Israeli land-grab since 1948. It epitomizes the nature of Israel’s policy; Israeli-Jewish demographic expansion and Palestinian-Arab demographic containment.
The International community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the implementation of the Prawer Plan due to its discriminatory nature and the severe infringement it causes on the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in Al-Naqab. The UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed legislation of the Prawer Plan. Also, in 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop the Prawer plan and its policies of forced displacement and dispossession.
Injustice, humiliation and forced displacement are a recurring theme in Palestine’s history. This is lesson that we as a group of youth take to the heart. We will oppose, resist and work against the continuous assault that our communities, across Palestine face. Therefore, we launched the “Prawer will not pass” campaign with an eye to preventing this plan to be yet another chapter in Palestine’s long and tragic history.
Opposing the Prawer Plan is to oppose ethnic cleansing, displacement and confinement in the 21st century.
Join us by organizing marches, protests, sending letters to those with positions of influence in your country or community, by doing whatever you can, in order to force Israel to stop the Prawer plan.
Join us on the 30th of Nov. in saying “Prawer shall not Pass”.
For more information, please contact us on: Facebook: (click here)
Join the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Melbourne)’s STAND WITH JAKE LYNCH AND THE PALESTINIAN BDS CAMPAIGN page on Facebook by clicking here.
CAIA (MELBOURNE) SOLIDARITY STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF PROFESSOR JAKE LYNCH
27 November 2013
The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) in Melbourne wishes to extend our support and solidarity to Professor Jake Lynch, the director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, in his court case which began on today against spurious charges brought by the Israeli based law group, Shurat HaDin.
Shurat HaDin, who are well-known for filing SLAPP suits (strategic lawsuits against public participation) in an attempt to silence and intimidate critics of Israeli state policy, filed a case in the Australian Federal Court on 29 October against Professor Jake Lynch over his support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, which calls for the boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions that are complicit in the system of oppression that denies Palestinians their basic rights.
Shurat HaDin claims that Professor Lynch’s support for BDS and his refusal to sponsor an institutional fellowship application for Israeli academic Dan Avnon from the Hebrew University violates Australian law, specifically the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act, which deems it unlawful to discriminate against a person “based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin”.
However, the Palestinian BDS campaign does not target individuals, businesses or institutions on the basis of religion, ethnicity or nationality. The BDS campaign focuses on institutions, with boycott targets chosen on the basis of their complicity with human rights abuses and violations of international law carried out by the Israeli state and military or their contribution to “rebranding campaigns” that attempt to whitewash Israel’s human rights abuses and war crimes.
As a result, Professor Lynch’s refusal to assist Dan Avon was not because he was Israeli or Jewish, as Shurat HaDin spuriously claims. When in December 2012, Dr Avnon approached Professor Lynch for assistance to study civics education in Australia under a fellowship agreement between the Hebrew University and Sydney University, Professor Lynch declined because of his opposition to the fellowship agreement between the two institutions due to the Hebrew University’s long history of complicity in Israel’s human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
The Hebrew University’s complicity is well document. Not only is the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University built on land confiscated from its rightful Palestinian owners and the University is also well-known for its ties to the Israeli government and Israeli military establishment, with the university accrediting Israeli military training courses. In addition, the University has close links with one of Israel’s largest military companies, with Michael Federman, the chairman of Elbit Systems, on its Board of Governors. The United nationals has named Elbit System as one of the companies complicit with Israel’s human rights abuses and war crimes in the Occupied Territories. For all these reasons, the Hebrew University is a legitimate targets for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The BDS campaign is a call for justice by all sectors of Palestinian civil society and supported around the world by unions, churches, civil society and human rights groups. It is a form of non violent popular resistance and international solidarity in protest against Israel’s persistent violation of Palestinian human rights and international law.
CAIA (Melbourne) recognises Professor Lynch’s strong support of the BDS movement for justice for the Palestinians. We congratulate him on his courageous stance in support of the right of Australian academics to dissent. We wish him well in his court case against Shurat HaDin, and we look forward to celebrating many victories in the BDS campaign alongside him.
Relevant Information and Links:
PALESTINIAN BDS CAMPAIGN 2005 CALL TO ACTION (click here)
Spin Watch report: BDS campaigner targeted by law firm with links to Israeli intelligence
Electronic Intifada: Israeli lawyers group Shurat HaDin unmasked as Mossad proxy
HEBREW UNIVERSITY AND ISRAEL’S OCCUPATION & APARTHEID POLICIES: (click here )
Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories
Situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, September 2013 (click here)
The present report addresses Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law in relation to its occupation of Palestinian territory. The Special Rapporteur focuses particular attention on the legal responsibility of business enterprises, corporations and non-State actors involved in activities relating to Israel’s settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
SodaStream is the world’s largest maker of home carbonation systems.As part of its corporate marketing strategy SodaStream markets itself as a environmentally friendly. The central “greenwashing” message from SodaStream is that by buying their product, consumers can save on plastic and can waste. However, what SodaStream does not mention is that they are at the forefront of Israel’s military occupation regime, as their main production factory operates out of an illegal Israeli colony in the Occupied West Bank.
SodaStream factory built on stolen Palestinian land:
Soda Stream established it main production plant in Mishor Adumim, in 1996. Mishor Adumim is an industrial zone located in the illegal Israeli colony of Ma’ale Adumim in the Occupied West Bank. Ma’ale Adumim represents one of the largest Israeli thefts of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank with land stolen from the Palestinian towns of Abu Dis, Azarya, Atur, Issauya, Han El Akhmar, Anata and Nebbi Mussa.
In addition, the Ma’ale Adumim industrial zone and the residential areas are part of Israel’s “East 1” project, which was initiated in 1995 by Yitzhak Rabin. The project aims to cut the Occupied West Bank off from Occupied East Jerusalem through strategic settlement expansion, hence destroying any prospect of a viable Palestinian state. Most recently in early December 2012 – in retaliation for the vote at the UN granting Palestine “non-member observer state status” – Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorised the building of an addition 3000 illegal settler housing units between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim to ensure the strategic expansion of the settlement.
Goods produced in illegal Israeli colonies do not serve the local Palestinian population; instead, 65% of goods are shipped elsewhere and taxes and profits go to support the Israeli economy, not Palestinians. In addition,“Cross-border Industrial Zones”, such as the one which SodaStream’s factory is located in, help to entrench the illegal Israeli occupation and Palestinian oppression, both economically and politically.
And while SodaStream’s main production plant is location in an illegal Israeli colony in the Occupied West Bank, it regularly labels its products as “made in Israel”.
For more information see:
Full report: Production in Settlements: The Case of SodaStreamhttp://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/WhoProfits-ProductioninSettlements-SodaStream.pdf-update
SodaStream September 2012 Update http://www.whoprofits.org/content/sodastream-september-2012
Exploitation of Palestinian workers
Palestinians who work in illegal Israeli settlements often face exploitative labour conditions. Palestinian workers are treated as occupied subjects rather than citizens. Because they are occupied subjects, Palestinian workers are unable to demand their legal labour rights without risking current and future sources of employment.
According to reports from three consecutive years (2008 to 2010) of Kav LaOved (an NGO committed to protecting the rights of disadvantaged workers employed by Israeli companies), workers in the SodaStream factory suffer from harsh working conditions. This is particularly true for the Palestinian workers. During the last few years, there have been several occasions on which workers complained about low wages and poor working conditions, and about ‘revolving door’ employment policies.
For more information see:
Labor section in Who Profits report: Production in Settlements: The Case of SodaStreamhttp://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/WhoProfits-ProductioninSettlements-SodaStream.pdf-update
Corporate Watch: “They destroyed our lives and then gave a few people a job. It is nothing”: Some unanswered questions for SodaStream http://corporateoccupation.org/they-destroyed-out-lives-and-then-gave-a-few-people-a-job-it-is-nothing-some-unanswered-questions-for-sodastream/
Palestinian workers in settlements:http://www.whoprofits.org/content/palestinian-workers-settlements
Ma’ale Adumim and enviromental destruction:
Ma’ale Adumim, the illegal colony which SodaStream has its production factory in, manages the infamous Abu Dis landfill (which is built on stolen Palestinian land), where over 1,100 tons of waste from Jerusalem and Israeli settlements are dumped every single day. The Israeli Ministry for the Environment has stated that the landfill is “polluting nearby streams and land”.
In addition,Industrial Zones such as the one in which SodaStream is located produce large quantities of industrial wastewater and solid waste which often pollute adjacent Palestinian land and communities.
For more information:
Experts probe reach of toxins from West Bank landfill [managed by Ma’ale Adumim] (March 2013)
Jerusalem Post: J’lem refuses to stop using Abu Dis landfill (2012)
Israeli colonies and environmental destruction
The environmental destruction wrought by Ma’ale Adumim is not isolated. The 450 Israeli colonies and outposts built on stolen Palestinian land all have a disastrous impact on the Palestinian population, as well as the environment and natural resources.
Since 1967, in violation of Article 49 (c) of the Fourth Geneva convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into an occupied territory, Israel has constructed hundreds of illegal colonies and transferred close to half a million of its citizens illegally into the territories it occupies. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2010 there were 450 illegal Israeli colonies, outposts and other sites in the Occupied West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem.
These illegal Israeli colonies and their supporting infrastructure (such as Israeli-only bypass roads) have numerous negative impacts on the environment including but not limited to:
1. The building of these illegal colonies results in widespread destruction of Palestinian agricultural land, icluding crops, olive groves and fruit orchids. This has resulted in increased soil erosion, the depletion of water resources and health hazards due to untreated industrial waste and domestic waste being dumped into the environment.
2. Israeli settlers in all illegal colonies consume huge amounts of scarce Palestinian water resources, usually consuming four times as much water as compared to water consumed by Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. While Israeli settlers fill their swimming pools with fresh water, many Palestinian communities are left without water for extended periods of time.
3. Israel’s illegal colonies release large amounts of raw waste water and domestic solid waste into the surrounding Palestinian environment. This waste not only threatens to pollute water aquifers, but also dumped untreated on Palestinian land, creating a health hazard for Palestinian communities.
The environmental impact of Israeli settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2012)
B’Tselem report: Foul Play: Neglect of wastewater treatment in the West Bank (June 2009)
The Environmental Impact of the Israeli Occupation (2000) http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/2156/pid/2254
The Environmental Impact of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank (1998)
SodaStream builds factory on ethnically cleansed land
SodaStream is currently building a new factory in the Negev desert where between 1948 and the early 1950s, the Israeli state ethnically cleansed 90% (approximately 90,000) of the Palestinian Bedouin living in that area. Since 1948, Israel has declared Palestinian Bedouin land “dead” land, claiming it was unsettled, unassigned and uncultivated and sought to prevent Bedouins from returning to their lands. In order to control the land and prevent Palestinian Bedouin from returning to their land, the Israel state via the Jewish National Fund have sought to engage in “forestation” projects, which sees the wholesale planting of trees on Bedouin traditional lands. The planting of these trees is then used by the Israeli state to “greenwash” its ethnic cleansing practices.
In addition, Israel has sought to systematically repress those Bedouin who remained on their land. For example, in the last two years, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Arakib has been destroyed approximately 35-40 times by the Israeli state.
In 2011, Israel announced that it planned to ethnically cleanse more than 30,000 Palestinian Bedouins who continue to live the Negev in more than 40 “unrecognised villages”. These villages have been in existence since before the establishment of the Israeli state but are systematically excluded by the Israeli government from official maps and excluded from the provision of local and national government infrastructure, such as electricity, water, telephone lines and educational and health facilities and services in order to make life as difficult as possible for the Bedouin in the hope that they will voluntarily leave their lands.
So while the Israeli state has continued to systematically ethnically cleanse Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev, SodaStream has received a €5.05 million (approx: AU $6,185,000) construction grant from the Israeli Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to build their new factory on stolen Palestinian Bedouin land.
For more information:
Israel: Ethnic cleansing in the Negev http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/2012102114393741506.html
Al-Naqab: The Ongoing Displacement of Palestine’s Southern Bedouin
Jewish National Fund resumes forestation project in al-Arakib
Forced eviction of Palestinian Bedouins from Ma’ale Adumim (where Soda Stream is located)
Supporting the campaign for Palestinian human rights:
We are asking the consumer and companies to support the Palestinian civil society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which was launched in 2005 with the support of more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations.
Inspired by the struggle of South Africans against apartheid, the Palestinian-initiated BDS campaign is conducted in the framework of international solidarity and resistance to injustice and oppression and calls for non-violent punitive measures to be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognise the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with international law.
This non-violent civil disobedience campaign calls for non-violent punitive measures to be imposed on Israel until it recognises the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and complies with international law by: (1) ending its occupation of Arab lands and dismantling the separation wall; (2) recognising the rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in United Nations resolution 194.
For more information:
BDS Global website: http://www.bdsmovement.net/
BDS 2005 Unified Call to Action: http://www.bdsmovement.net/call
BDS and SodaStream: http://www.bdsmovement.net/tag/sodastream
BDS Italia’s rebuttal of SodaStream
BDS Italia’s rebuttal to SodaStream regarding the Palestinian BDS campaign and the role of SodaStream in relation to Israel’s occupation.
SodaStream’s reply fails to convince http://www.bdsitalia.org/index.php/english-menu/280-reply-sodastream