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SodaStream, the Super Bowl and Scarlett Johansson
February 2, 2014 8:48 AM   Subscribe

The argument against Scarlett Johansson doing Super Bowl ads for SodaStream [pdf] This report provides an extensive analysis of SodaStream (Soda Club), a manufacturer of home carbonating devices whose main factory is in the industrial park of Mishor Edomim in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel. Using SodaStream as a case study for corporate activity in the illegal settlements, the report explores the concept of industrial production in settlements....Examining the performance of this company is important in order to understand how its success is based, at least in part, on the structural advantages that production in Israeli settlements enjoys. Settlement production benefits from low rent, special tax incentives, lax enforcement of environmental and labor protection laws, as well as additional governmental support. Summary: Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl Ad Becomes An International Controversy. More, from Baltimore Jewish Life: SodaStream Boss Admits West Bank Plant Is 'a Pain.'

If he could turn back the clock, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum would “never” have established a production plant on an Israeli Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. In fact, he said, its location has turned out to be “a pain.”

...But though he wouldn’t have opened the factory at its current site, Birnbaum said that its presence here is now a reality, and he won’t bow to political pressure to close it — even though the company is about to open a huge new plant in the Negev, within Israel’s internationally-recognized boundaries, which will replicate all functions of the West Bank plant, and dwarf it.
posted by mediareport (127 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have a SodaStream, and I love(d) it, but this really has changed everything for me. I had it for about a year before I found out about the West Bank plant, and I have barely used it since. It breaks my heart because I love seltzer and was good for a liter or two a day, but when I run out of gas I will not replace it and will donate the device to charity.
posted by nevercalm at 8:54 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Just get an old-fashioned seltzer bottle. It does everything a soda stream does. And the CO2 cartridges are easy to find.
posted by hippybear at 8:57 AM on February 2 [32 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think chapters 3, 4 and 5 in the linked PDF are particularly interesting:

3. Labor: The Status of Palestinian Workers in SodaStream's Plant in Mishor Edomim

4. Land: Land Expropriation Creates Cheap Land for Israeli Industries in Mishor Edomim

5. Trade: Exporting Settlement Products to Europe - Customs and Mislabeling
posted by mediareport at 9:04 AM on February 2


Why Israel fears the boycott
posted by Flashman at 9:05 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


Some perspective from the plant workers. It's really a no-win situation all around.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:09 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Yeah, that piece by Josh Mitnick is really good. Whether the benefits to the 500 Palestinians among the plant's 1300 employees outweigh the larger international issues at stake is definitely a fraught question. I imagine my answer to it would change greatly if my Palestinian father or mother was employed at the plant.
posted by mediareport at 9:13 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


nevercalm: You can buy adaptors that allow you to use conventional CO2 carts in your SodaStream. Since the device is already paid for (and a charity would probably put the thing in the hands of somebody else who would buy more SodaStream products), it's a way to continue using it while shopping with your conscience.
posted by at by at 9:22 AM on February 2 [24 favorites]


Thanks, at by. I'll check it out.
posted by nevercalm at 9:23 AM on February 2


[Couple of comments deleted. Folks, can we maybe not start in with the Godwin and the anti-semitism accusations immediately?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:23 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


You know, I don't have strong feelings one way or another about SodaStream's business in Israel/Palestine, but I think it's kinda screwy that Johansson would choose SodaStream over Oxfam. I mean, I love seltzer water and all, but really? Even if you disagree with Oxfam's stance on I/P, don't they do enough other good things to make them more important than bubbly water?

Does Johansson really need the money that bad?
posted by evil otto at 9:24 AM on February 2 [27 favorites]


I think if the celebrity endorser had been [random apolitical person] instead of an Oxfam ambassador, we'd be having a somewhat different conversation. But if you're going to position yourself as an advocate for poverty and social justice, you really need to do better than to walk blithely into something like this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:25 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


That Gawker article linked above is great reading. Closing the factory now will only hurt the workers with zero benefit to the peace process.
posted by gertzedek at 9:27 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


That Reza Aslan post was really disappointing. I've never read any of his books, but I've read read several of his articles in the past and watched several interviews with him, and he just never seemed to be the type to do the Hitler comparisons.

I'm also a bit confused about the Oxfam connection. Before looking at TFAs, I just assumed that she had no idea about SodaStream's involvement in the West Bank, but it's clear that they've been opposed to the company for years. If ScarJo was really as involved in the organization as she let on before it seems like she would have known about this, so it appears that either it was a convenient move to cement her image when she was younger, or she really does need the money...
posted by KGMoney at 9:28 AM on February 2


I wonder whether Johansson thinks the plant is a net good for both Israelis and Palestinians. It certainly doesn't seem like anyone is champing at the bit to employ the latter.
posted by Etrigan at 9:33 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: Snickerdoodle's link from Gawker does try to add some perspective from the Palestinian employees, who seem to feel that the factory is a net good, although the focus is on an economic perspective. The un-named employee's comment that "Prostitutes are better than politics. Politics doesn't bring me bread,'' seems to be a pretty common sentiment when the alternative is severe poverty though.
posted by KGMoney at 9:39 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Does Johansson really need the money that bad?

Or perhaps she is an actual Likudnik?
posted by acb at 9:41 AM on February 2


hippybear: "Just get an old-fashioned seltzer bottle. It does everything a soda stream does. And the CO2 cartridges are easy to find."

Another alternative is building your own home carbonator; tanks can be found without too much difficulty, and a refill lasts a very long time. I don't have a predilection for fizzy things, really, but I've always kind of wished I did, because this awesome how-to sounds like a really neat project to try. Maybe when I have kids I'll give it a go.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


"Prostitutes are better than politics. Politics doesn't bring me bread,'' seems to be a pretty common sentiment when the alternative is severe poverty though.

That's how exploitation works.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:22 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


Perhaps it's even possible that her representation got her the contract without realizing the history of the plant, and as such, she has no way out of the commercial as she already contracted to do it?
posted by cavalier at 10:27 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Doubtful. Stars have out clauses for just this reason. She wants to do these commercials.
posted by Etrigan at 10:30 AM on February 2


sounds like a really neat project to try.

Issues with that:

1) The cheap regulator. Get a 2 stage. Goes from $30 to $160+ but a CO2 tank lasts a year VS 3 months.
2) Plastic bottles are all nice and good. But you might want the 5 gal corney kegs and fill them instead.
http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/brewing/kegging/5-gallon-two-keg-system-used-old.html as an example.
3) Pressure. If you use a keg system you'll want to keep the water cold while exposed to CO2. 60PSI makes great fizzy water. Downside - you can't pour that with a beer faucet ($25-$40). Be sure you buy Stainless steel and look to get a perlock with the non-moving part out of the front as the CO2 water will dissolve non-stainless. Inline solutions are a soda head ($120+) or a stainless steel needle valve ($15 on ebay from China - $120+ for US made SS needle valve)

One could try 25 PSI stainless steel with gas post option

Carbonating Mazel tov!
posted by rough ashlar at 10:35 AM on February 2 [12 favorites]


If we actually boycotted every company engaged in things that exploited people somewhere, we'd have trouble finding things to buy. And we certainly would not be using any currently manufactured devices to access the Internet. So get off of MetaFilter, people.

As for "SpokesCelebrities" of all sorts, they are ridiculous and maybe if we ignored them, they'd go away, please?
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:39 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


Is it so unusual for a foreign company to build a factory and employ local workers? From what I hear they are paid not very much by Israeli standards, but rather well for West Bank standards. How is this different than the clothes you are currently wearing which were made in Bangladesh/China/Vietnam?

From the first page of the paper:

"Who Profits [...] Initiated in response to the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel, this research project is dedicated to exposing the commercial involvement of Israeli and international companies in the continuing Israeli control over Palestinian and Syrian land."

It just seems like these types of issues are inevitably driven by one extreme interest group or another. I don't really trust any of them given the level of bullshit published by both sides. Yes, this may be a "foreign company comes in and abuses local workers" story, but it is not being treated as such.
posted by cman at 10:46 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


If we actually boycotted every company engaged in things that exploited people somewhere, we'd have trouble finding things to buy.

True. Also true: if we never boycotted any company engaged in things that exploited people somewhere, those companies would never change their behavior.
posted by gurple at 10:46 AM on February 2 [36 favorites]


So get off of MetaFilter, people.

Yea, stick to just bitching about what the politicians do and never, EVER think about interfering with capitalism.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:47 AM on February 2 [17 favorites]


If we actually boycotted every company engaged in things that exploited people somewhere1, we'd have trouble finding things to buy2.

1. Show your work.

2. And wouldn't that be a shame.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:53 AM on February 2 [12 favorites]


We won't have trouble finding things to buy. That's ridiculous.

Markets aren't perfect by any means, but companies do respond to public pressure once it's great enough to impact their bottom line. If they don't change their ways, and the boycott is widespread enough, another company will fill the void to chase the customers participating in the boycott. Will the new company also exploit its workers? Maybe! But they'll do so knowing that public pressure is what gave them their opportunity, and they could be on the other side next time.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:54 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Anytime A Palestinian can stay in the West Bank instead of being forced to exile to earn a living it is a victory against the occupation. There are many better things Soda Stresm can do other than closing the factory.
posted by humanfont at 11:04 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Is it so unusual for a foreign company to build a factory and employ local workers? From what I hear they are paid not very much by Israeli standards, but rather well for West Bank standards. How is this different than the clothes you are currently wearing which were made in Bangladesh/China/Vietnam?

The difference is that none of those countries are involved in an occupation that is a point of contention (which factors into the standard of living that exists), nor are those local workers subject to the policies and limitations imposed by said occupying force - although I'm sure those other countries have official and unofficial channels by which companies can exert undue influence.
posted by kyp at 11:14 AM on February 2


Bought the sodastream before I knew the politics around it. Now, I press a little harder at the end of each carbonation which makes a horrible screeching scream sound. I can now feel my thumb and ignorance pressing down on the oppressed right from home and hear them scream!
posted by astrobiophysican at 11:17 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


For a tragi-whimsical idea of what the Palestinian proto-state currently looks like, check out The Palestinian Archipelago.
posted by senor biggles at 11:18 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


As a left-wing American Jew, I'm often unable to do the moral calculus on Israel and come up with a single answer. ScarJo is half-Jewish, and although younger generations of American Jews tend to be easier in their criticism of Israel's actions, the conflict has this Rashomon-like quality of making perfect and opposite sense to different narratives. It's strange to see my older left-wing relatives condemning or holding negative opinions of Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky, and Nelson Mandela only on the basis of their harsh criticisms of Israel.

Where some look at fierce advocacy of Israel and see only a kind of mendacity (I'm thinking of a recent Andrew Sullivan blog post where he sputtered pre-emptively at the idea that his criticisms could have him branded an anti-semite), I'm baffled they don't see the wound that near-blind support of Israel comes from, the psychological effect of the Holocaust on a culture centrally based on preservation of historical memory. Israel's international misdeeds draw condemnation, but most diaspora Jews see our own position as improved in the era since Israel's creation. Boycotts draw a coalition of those who simply want Israel to do the right thing and those who want it wiped off the map. Even the reunification of Germany looked different through Jewish eyes; to most Americans it was the fulfillment of Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Reagan's "Tear down this wall", but I felt uneasy when it happened.

Of course Israel's long-term security also depends on normalizing its relations with its neighbors, including Palestinians. But the more I look into details and see arguments from all sides the more I want to say "I give up!" Settlements are illegal, but from what I understand even peace agreements based on the 1967 borders will swap out settlements developed organically from surrounding Israeli areas for other land.
posted by Schmucko at 11:19 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


From the NYT link above:
Would justice and equal rights for all really destroy Israel? Did equality destroy the American South? Or South Africa? Certainly, it destroyed the discriminatory racial order that had prevailed in both places, but it did not destroy the people or the country.

Likewise, only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:23 AM on February 2 [12 favorites]


Carbonated Water.

Soda Sales Continue To Decline Despite Flashy Marketing, HuffPo 7/24/2013.
posted by cenoxo at 11:24 AM on February 2


If you want cheap soda (or just to boycott Sodastream after buying their product) you want one of these:

http://co2doctor.com/fillstationproIIspec.htm

Downside/upside: you need a 35lb cylinder in your garage. Then you just fill your own cylinders.

Any Toronto-area Mefites that want cheap/free refills, drop me a mail.
posted by anthill at 11:24 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey, there are limits to historical analogies. The American South and South Africa were not founded as homelands for genocide survivors. The solution in both of those cases was integration, but most of us who want Israel's actions reformed and a peace based largely on the 1967 borders are thinking in terms of a 2-state solution. If the purpose of a boycott is to put pressure against a 2-state solution I'd be against such a boycott.
posted by Schmucko at 11:42 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


By SJ signing on to be a spokeswoman for SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson, SodaStream and Oxfam together have one great viral publicity blowout. Oxfam wins the long con game.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:49 AM on February 2


Google Answers: Who said "Say anything you want about me as long as you spell my name right"?
posted by cenoxo at 11:59 AM on February 2


As an actress who was in a super hero movie, I really expected more from Scarlet Johansson when it comes to geopolitics.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:59 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


Schmucko: If someone from the American south had cited the clearances that had starved his ancestors out of their homes and forced them to move to America as justification for his support for the Confederacy, on the logic that he felt that the American Federal government was likely to repeat the process of expropriation and eviction would that make the Confederate cause any better?

If an Afrikaner cited the starvation of his family in English concentration camps during the Boer War as an explanation for why he felt South Africa should ignore pressure from abroad, would that have been a good reason to continue apartheid?
posted by Grimgrin at 12:08 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Schmucko: As an American taxpayer, I don't particularly get behind my tax $$$ and the force field of a UN Security Council veto going to maintaining an ethno-reloigious state for one people at the expense of another. And that's what Israel is all about: being an ethnocracy:
Tellingly, the Supreme Court recently rejected an attempt by Israeli liberals to have their nationality or ethnicity listed simply as “Israeli” in the national population registry (which has categories like Jew, Arab, Druse, etc.). The court found that doing so would be a serious threat to Israel’s founding identity as a Jewish state for the Jewish people.

Israel remains the only country on earth that does not recognize its own nationality, as that would theoretically avail equal rights to all its citizens, undermining its “ethnocratic” identity. The claim that B.D.S., a nonviolent movement anchored in universal principles of human rights, aims to “destroy” Israel must be understood in this context.
Why must the Palestinians, who have been living on that land for centuries upon centuries, have less claim to it than the Jews who suffered so horribly at the hands of their fellow Europeans?

The Palestinians are as much descendants of Abraham as the Jews are. But anyone arguing they have full citizenship in Israel has got to be joking. The national flag indicates who's on top, and everybody else is a second-class citizen.

If the Israelis want to build an exclusionary state for themselves based on religion (with lesser rights for non-Jewish citizens), that's their choice.

I'm looking to convince my fellow Americans not to enable it with BILLIONS of our tax dollars every year.

And we're making headway.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:12 PM on February 2 [15 favorites]


If the purpose of a boycott is to put pressure against a 2-state solution I'd be against such a boycott.

B.D.S. calls for a "right of return" to lands within Israel, rather than a return to the 1967 borders. Functionally, that is a 1-state solution. As such, I am morally opposed to it and consider it disingenuous for Barghouti to claim that "only Israel’s unjust order is threatened by" B.D.S. Obviously its character as a homeland for an ethnic minority is also threatened, which we apparently care about in other instances but not when it comes to Israel.
posted by palliser at 12:12 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I like imagining this as secretly part of a larger public relations proxy battle between SodaStream and Coca-Cola. It's like that old joke that Coke's main competitor is water.

Wake me when SodaStream is accused of having union leaders murdered.

(I am pro a two state settlement for Palestine and Israel; agree that the factory is illegal; and etc. I just think that giving a shit about what SodaStream is doing is a waste of bleeding heart effort.)
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 12:15 PM on February 2


Coke Backs BDS Group Trying to Cripple Israeli Soda Competitor
posted by No Robots at 12:20 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


You're my hero, No Robots.
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 12:23 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Some information on the Coke-Oxfam partnership from Oxfam America, and a few critical takes from the food politics community.
posted by Apropos of Something at 12:44 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


From the same publication that also published Koch Industries Responds to Harry Reid Smear, which describes the Koch brothers as "libertarian philanthropists". Ha ha, no.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:57 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Well I'll give her this: She and the ad have drawn way more attention to SodaStream's corporate practices, and the practical implications of Israel's settlement policy than pretty much any news hit or Boycott Israel press release has in the last decade.

So I'm going to file this under Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant and devote as little time as possible to pondering whether Ms. Johansson hates puppies and sunshine.
posted by dry white toast at 1:39 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


As an actress who was in a super hero movie, I really expected more from Scarlet Johansson when it comes to geopolitics

Thing about superheroes is that smacking costumed bad guys in secret lairs or alien invaders is easy and everyone cheers.

Once real-world politics enters comic books, the story lines usually go sideways and get less entertaining. Geopolitics makes for bad escapism.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:42 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


The analogy that some white southerners (who, by the way, enslaved Africans--we're not talking about that in Israel, we're talking about economic exploitation and geographic division and resource allocation) or white South Africans may have endured earlier oppression is a red herring. Those are individual stories. The Holocaust is not just a talking point that Israel supporters bring up because land. My aunt, who was born in the US, told me that every morning she wakes up thinking, "the Holocaust happened". Genocide against the Jewish people has a multi-millenium history. The blip of time since WW II is no guarantee that it will not happen again, and the existence of the Israeli state is one of the few things that has fundamentally changed. Eliminating the state of Israel or reforming it towards secularism both seem difficult tasks, but I know which one I think is worthier.
posted by Schmucko at 1:52 PM on February 2


Why must the Palestinians, who have been living on that land for centuries upon centuries, have less claim to it than the Jews who suffered so horribly at the hands of their fellow Europeans?

Most Jewish Israelis are descended from people who were living in what is now Israel or surrounding countries before its establishment. Many, possibly most Palestinians are descended from people who were not living "on that land" centuries ago: their families were originally from Egyptian or from Yemen or Saudi Arabia or whatever. I don't think this is actually important: of course people move around. That's what people do.

My real objection is to the way you characterise Jews as "Europeans", whose "claim" is somehow impaired by that fact. The idea that some people have a real, native bond with the land they occupy is pernicious: it is the basis of a good deal of racism both in the Old World and even in the New. Do you not realise that Europeans described Jews as foreigners without native rights to equal dignity and treatment? In fact, they specifically said that Jews should go back to Jerusalem and (what was then) Palestine! Jews can't win: they're strangers everywhere.

Most people here, I think, want Palestinians and Israelis to enjoy the same rights. If that's ever going to happen, though, it can't have anything to do with whose great-grandparents lived in which particular village. An argument based on historical rights is incompatible with one based on human rights. We need to address people's rights as human beings, not as symbols of historical forces, and recognise that the grandchild of a Cairo merchant has the same inherent right to equal treatment as the grandchild of a Hebron shopkeeper or a a Gazan villager.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:21 PM on February 2 [18 favorites]


Most Jewish Israelis are descended from people who were living in what is now Israel or surrounding countries before its establishment.

I don't disagree with the overall point you're making, but really substantial numbers of Jewish Israelis are either foreign-born or have ancestors who migrated to Israel after 1948. I want to stress that it doesn't undermine the point that birth place should not be so important.
posted by Thing at 2:43 PM on February 2


US warns Israel over apparent distortion of John Kerry statements. It seems some of Israels's worst enemies are it's leaders.
posted by adamvasco at 3:13 PM on February 2


Most people here, I think, want Palestinians and Israelis to enjoy the same rights. If that's ever going to happen, though, it can't have anything to do with whose great-grandparents lived in which particular village. An argument based on historical rights is incompatible with one based on human rights. We need to address people's rights as human beings, not as symbols of historical forces, and recognise that the grandchild of a Cairo merchant has the same inherent right to equal treatment as the grandchild of a Hebron shopkeeper or a a Gazan villager.

Agreed.

And still many of us don't see things going in that direction at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

And we see it made possible by our American tax dollars.

Which is why Johansson choosing soda-stream over Oxfam is important. It's making people take a closer look at the issues and question things that have mostly just been accepted.

I'm all in favor of spending American tax dollars on a "nobody gets driven into the sea / everybody scales back their ambitions and human rights and Democracy for everyone" plan. That's both righteous and strategically good for me as an American. I think working on building that world would be worth it.

But that's not really what's happening now? That's what everyone says they want, and quite a few mean it. But where the facts on the ground happen, that's not the reality.

As we sow, so do we reap. That goes for us all, actors, nations, and opinionated internet commentators alike.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:53 PM on February 2


Am I the only one who thinks that you don't need to drink fizzy drinks?
posted by DanCall at 4:23 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


The Holocaust is not just a talking point that Israel supporters bring up because land.

Sometimes people who are aware of the Armenian Genocide will point out that the word Holocaust was used by Winston Churchill in 1929 when he called it an "administrative holocaust". And Ole' Winston was just using the word others had used sometime before.

What happened in WWII was A Holocaust, one of many. To the normal pile of bodies let us add the Indians (dot, not feather) that were starved to death by Churchill's policies.

My aunt, who was born in the US, told me that every morning she wakes up thinking, "the Holocaust happened".

Every morning and it is her 1st thought of the day?

One "fun" thing about the Internet and topics is sometimes ya end up being pointed at data you end up asking "is the claim of that data true?"

One claim made is about the German laws about denial over the systematic death due to a religious label at the hands of the German government is now worthy of a jail term. The claim was 'disagreeing with accepted scholarship' on the topic is the basis for being jailed under the law. But long before hunting for German law there is a far more interesting claim of now publicly available Soviet captured files from the German government in the time period in question. These records are claimed to be in the Russian central archives and the claimed records on Microfilm are claimed to be "Official German Record of Prisoners in Auschwitz Concentration Camp, May 1940 through December 1944" (I linked to Heretical was because it was the 1st on the search engine. The site sure does want to be a, err, source of cocktail party ending topics. Something to push everyones buttons it looks like.)

I'd like to think that Archive # 187603 rolls 1-280 and whatever rolls beyond 286 would have made it into search engines with a mention, but they do not as far as I could find. I find it hard to believe that the only records of interest to anyone on the Internet is the rolls of 281-285 and only Archive # 187603. Beyond the obvious chain of custody issues of course.

Genocide against the Jewish people has a multi-millenium history.

So has genocide VS others. So why not start on a path to stop it for everyone VS only a select few? Or are only a chosen set of people worth worrying about?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:36 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I don't disagree with the overall point you're making, but really substantial numbers of Jewish Israelis are either foreign-born or have ancestors who migrated to Israel after 1948.

It's equally true to say that most Jewish Israelis have at least one ancestor who migrated to the region after 1948 as it is to say that most Jewish Israelis have at least one ancestor who migrated to the region before 1948 (or who were there from time immemorial, of course).

All definitions of nativity are flawed; my reading of the one used in the PLO charter is that either Yasser Arafat was not Palestinian (not resident in Palestine before 1948) or most Jews are presumptively Palestinian (descended from people resident in Palestine before 1948). Each of these positions is silly, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:39 PM on February 2


Am I the only one who thinks that you don't need to drink fizzy drinks?

The carbonic acid helps to kill parasitic cysts. But it has to have a longer dwell time than a soadstream.

Metafilter: We are all over 1st world problems like getting rid of boring tap water.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:41 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


So has genocide VS others. So why not start on a path to stop it for everyone VS only a select few? Or are only a chosen set of people worth worrying about?

It's weird that whenever writing about Jewish issues there's always, "but you didn't ALSO talk about this other injustice!"

From looking at Jewish history I conclude not that there's anything "chosen" about the Jewish people (which always seems to raise hackles) but that anti-semitism is a durable mindset that is a permanent part of world culture as long as there are Jews in the world--that's just the way it seems to be. There is virulent anti-semitism even in countries that have never had Jews. A well in England from the year 900 AD has skeletons of Jews dumped down it, including children. Jewish genetics shows a population bottleneck indicating past genocides.

If you're Jewish, anti-semitism and Israel are partly about self-defense and survival, and if you're not they are not.

Many Jewish people do feel a special responsibility to take their part in acting to prevent genocide against other peoples. It's just really bizarre that defending the existence of Israel with non-permeable national boundaries one is somehow suspect for not doing one's part elsewhere.

I am conflicted on this issue because the Palestianians are disenfranchised by the current order. I believe in the end that evolution shapes history more than revolution. Israel has given back the Sinai. I'd join in 100% in boycotts to hasten bringing more autonomy and opportunity to occupied Palestinians and full equality to Palestinian Israeli citizens, but I'm not signing up to the "Israel is such a terrible nation it must be undone" line of argument.
posted by Schmucko at 5:10 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Here's the article in The Forward, which was the basis for the Baltimore Jewish Life one above: SodaStream Boss Admits West Bank Plant Is 'a Pain' — Praises Scarlett Johansson

Here's one from the JTA last year:
In SodaStream boycott push, Palestinians may be the victims

Everyone talks about the 500 Palestinian employees at the plant, but the JTA article says there are actually 400 Arab employees from Israel and 500 from the West Bank, besides 200 other Israelis and foreign workers. Even if you're only looking at Arabs that would get hurt by the closure, the figure is actually much higher than generally reported.

Here's a response from the Christian Science Monitor, which usually takes an anti-Israeli line: Palestinian workers back Scarlett Johansson's opposition to SodaStream boycott (+video)
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:37 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


On my aunt thinking "the Holocaust happened" on waking every morning:

Every morning and it is her 1st thought of the day?

One "fun" thing about the Internet and topics is sometimes ya end up being pointed at data you end up asking "is the claim of that data true?"


It's what she told me last year. It's true she told me that, and not to argue a point on Israel (not under discussion), but to demonstrate how differently my cousin her daughter thinks of being Jewish than she does. I think it was kind of like that feeling you get when you wake up, clear the cobwebs and think, "oh that was just a bad dream" but instead find it wasn't.

Of course there have been other genocides. There was something anomalous about what we call the Holocaust, with the "civilized" world drawn into a war to eliminate one small people.
posted by Schmucko at 5:43 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


It's not just Sodastream: Oxfam is promoting the Coca-Cola company at the expense of its competitors, which has brought it a good deal of criticism. It may sometimes be appropriate for a charity to promote one company over another, but there's a clear conflict of interest when that company is a major sponsor and works on joint projects with the charity.

Coca-Cola feels threatened by Sodastream and has aggressively worked against it. Did they approach their partner, Oxfam, about its use of Sodastream's spokesperson? I would be surprised if they didn't: it's a tactical move, like denying Sodastream the right to advertise during the Superbowl. CBS caved in, and not many people protested: it was a commercial, not a moral decision. Oxfam has now put itself in a position where we should ask the same question.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:46 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


It's weird that whenever writing about Jewish issues there's always, "but you didn't ALSO talk about this other injustice!"

If one is going to claim a word has a special meaning when it has been used to describe other events that happened before that devalues the events that happened before. And if you opt to use a word to describe only the State supported killing of only one label of people when the State supported killing happened to many other labelled groups - what do you expect the outcome to be? The other groups should just sit down, shut up and not be up for discussion or even mentioned? (I knew about the non-German mass death in Russia and by the hands of the Japanese Government but didn't know about the starvation in India 'till today in looking up a date to post for this topic. And perhaps others were not aware of the starvation policy in WWII ... restricting the conversation avoids the expansion of knowledge.)

Word meaning is rather interesting....the word Semitic: relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian, constituting the main subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family.

But if you modify the word Semitic and make it anti-semitic the language aspect goes away and it becomes something else.

From looking at Jewish history I conclude not that there's anything "chosen" about the Jewish people (which always seems to raise hackles) but that anti-semitism is a durable mindset that is a permanent part of world culture as long as there are Jews in the world

Consider also that one of your cited sources has told you that she wakes up thinking, "the Holocaust happened". Not "Am I going to have eggs", "what should I wear", "I should shut off my alarm clock" but what you cited. You might be self-selecting re-enforcing data points to a "us VS them" worldview.

Jewish genetics shows a population bottleneck indicating past genocides.

Does this scholarship of "Jewish genetics" have published papers so one can examine the claims? Because what little 'scholarship' (read: shit read on the Internet) I know of claims little genetic difference between various claimed rivals in the Middle East area. And while this idea of "Jewish Genetics Research" is on the table, why should that be more acceptable than, say "Aryan Generic Research" would be?

General genetic work on humans show plenty of population bottlenecks so such is not unique to one group. And does this "Jewish genetics scholarship" look into other groups bottlenecks when a 'political' change happens? What is branded "the other" suffers when 'hard times' come - such is not uniquely "Jewish".

I'm not signing up to the "Israel is such a terrible nation it must be undone" line of argument.

I believe those argument lines have been deleted by the mods in this thread so that is a straw man at this point.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:07 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


But if you modify the word Semitic and make it anti-semitic the language aspect goes away and it becomes something else.

The term anti-Semitic was invented by a nice goy, Wilhelm Marr, to define the most up-to-date, "scientific" approach to discriminating against Jews, as opposed to the more old-fashioned Christian approach. It had nothing to do with other groups commonly denominated "Semitic."

On preview: The page you linked to argues that "International Jewry declared war against Germany in 1933 simply because the German government had removed Jews from influential positions and transferred power back to the German people. Such declarations of war as carried in the Daily Express were repeated throughout the world." I see, clicking through this site, that in addition to describing Anne Frank's diary as a hoax, it hosts an entire section devoted to demonstrating that "Our entire population, with almost no significant exceptions, is now at the mercy of, and therefore enslaved by, the economic pressures which the Jews exert at the first signs of disaffection." Fact-checking the charming "What Jews Do" page, which describes Jews as "parasites," reveals that the author quotes a parody (Marcus Eli Ravage) and a fictional lecture (Reichorn) as real quotations from Jews. (And I'm not touching anything else on that site. Yeeow.) Why did you think linking to an explicitly anti-Semitic site was a good idea?
posted by thomas j wise at 6:45 PM on February 2 [15 favorites]


Thank you thomas j wise. I don't want to go off an a harrangue on those with chips on their shoulders, beams in their eyes, and self-righteousness shielding hypocrisy, but that is what this topic seems to draw out. I'll let the sources selected here stand as demonstrations of objectivity.
posted by Schmucko at 6:52 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar, I have to assume the website you linked to was done out of haste, and not because you really thought it held water. If you ever want a decent factual account of what was really going on in the Jewish mindset in the years leading up to WW2, read even a few pages of In The Garden Of Beasts, by Erik Larson.
posted by docpops at 7:11 PM on February 2


Turns out the commercial itself was really dull.
posted by straight at 7:37 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Don't like the term anti-semitism? Try this one from Constantin Brunner: Judenhass.
posted by No Robots at 9:09 PM on February 2


Turns out the commercial itself was really dull.

Consider what they have to work with: Coca-Cola and Pepsi have laughing teenagers on road trips, cooling their lithe, perspiring bodies with gleaming cans that drip with condensation. Sodastream has plastic bottles that fart at you.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:29 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


rough ashlar, I have to assume the website you linked to was done out of haste

Why assume that? Lots of people believe that stuff. I think people should know that these pernicious ideas still have currency, even among Metafilter's own. rough ashlar is to be commended for citing his sources.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:59 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Many, possibly most Palestinians are descended from people who were not living "on that land" centuries ago: their families were originally from Egyptian or from Yemen or Saudi Arabia or whatever.

Depends how many "centuries ago" we're talking about, right? The Palestinians weren't interlopers in Palestine.
posted by moorooka at 11:34 PM on February 2


I wouldn't characterise them as interlopers anyway, because why shouldn't people live where they want? But there's a reason the PLO charter defines Palestinians as "those Arab nationals who, until 1947, normally resided in Palestine". It's because there were so many Jews living in then-Palestine before 1947, and there were so many Arabs who had only recently arrived. UNRWA's charter uses the definition “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948”, for similar reasons. All nativist definitions are arbitrary; people just pick the one that gives them the answer they want.

I stress that I don't think that established residents of any place should be treated differently according to where their grandfather was born, but for the purpose of refuting any argument that Palestinians specifically could have such rights: look at a list of Palestinian surnames, e.g., here. Lots of those surnames are actually place names, the equivalent of calling someone Deutscher or Polanski or whatever. And you don't even need to make deductions like that, because government records from the Mandatory Period are readily available, and you can find people's origins through their children's birth certificates and so forth.

Anyway, it's unarguable that most Palestinians are descended at least partially from people who were in then-Palestine centuries ago. But so were many Jews, and therefore any distinction on that basis is not only racist, IMO, but also artificial.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:09 AM on February 3


[One comment deleted. Rough ashlar, I don't know your motivations, but you've now straight-up linked to a holocaust denialist's hate site twice in this thread. This is not okay. It's not okay to pursue a "Holocaust didn't happen" line or similar hate propaganda here. Anything further along these lines will be deleted, and you will get a time-out or permaban.]
posted by taz at 1:25 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Palestinian workers back Scarlett Johansson's opposition to SodaStream boycott

The factory is built on an illegal settlement, for which it receives considerable tax incentives. It isn't relevant whether Sodastream treats its employees well or not. The Palestinian economy is at the mercy of the Israeli government. Those few workers that do find regular, paying work are are at the top of the pile. Of course some of them would rather participate in an adverse and unfair system and prevail rather than be poor, hungry, but 'right.'

Most Jewish Israelis are descended from people who were living in what is now Israel or surrounding countries before its establishment.

Which is the basic maths of genealogy. Half of British people are descended from royalty. It is no more a moral basis for land claim than I have for insisting people call me 'Your Highness.'

Apologism for Israeli property expropriation still takes many forms - false equivalence between actual living people owning land in 1948 and descendants of people who may have owned it several hundred years previously; handwaving about whether Palestinians exist, or whether they really 'owned' the land. Canards about Palestinians giving up their land; tu quoque examples of Jewish dispossession. Now another:

The idea that some people have a real, native bond with the land they occupy is pernicious

Which is a curious argument, and I'm being polite, for a consistent supporter of Israel to make.

You think people should all learn to get along and nor worry about property rights dating back to great grandfathers. Which is an easy argument to make when Israel now controls the land, the economy and the wealth. It requires a convenient distinction between 'old' and 'new' property rights which consigns 1948 to history and is less an an argument for human rights and more that Palestinians should just accept their rather meagre lot.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:57 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


To whom do you think the land in Maale Adumim belonged before 1948? Even Peace Now (whose actual raison d'être includes fighting injustices against Palestinians) concedes that about 98% was public land - nobody even argues that the bit Sodastream's factory was built on belonged to anyone at all.

In any event, I totally agree that property rights are important, so we're not in disagreement there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:19 AM on February 3


nobody even argues that the bit Sodastream's factory was built on belonged to anyone at all.

Come on, Joe. You're not dumb. Firstly, some of the land was privately owned, and in other settlements the percentage of expropriated Palestinian land is considerably higher.

Secondly, public land doesn't mean it's just up for grabs - especially where one is dealing with grazing cultures. This issue isn't unique to Israel and I'm surprised that you've elided "not privately owned" to "not belonging to anyone at all" given how much these arguments have been covered in the context of Aboriginal land rights.

Thirdly, Ma'ale Adumim effectively splits the West Bank in two, so any implied characterisation that this was just a case of building on common land available to Palestinians and Israelis alike belies the impact of how strategically important and deliberate this particular settlement is. People were moved off the land so that an illegal settlement could be built to bisect the West Bank and create a choke point. Ma'ale Adumim epitomises the cynicism and provocation of settlement building in the context of Palestinian-blaming, land expropriation and one-sided negotiations on peace.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:08 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I'm as against the occupation of Palestine and the settlements as anyone, but the reality is that a lot of the cheap shit you buy is manufactured under horrendous conditions. Not really sure why the need to focus on soda stream. Or are all these actors supposed to stop buying consumer electronics and designer clothes, etc that are built in communist countries and dictatorships, too?
posted by empath at 6:26 AM on February 3


Cartoonists Speak Out Against SodaStream Sponsorship Of Angoulême International Festival of Comics

The letter, signed by Ben Katchor, Joe Sacco, Peter Kuper, Sue Coe and others, is here.
posted by mediareport at 7:07 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Or are all these actors supposed to stop buying consumer electronics and designer clothes, etc that are built in communist countries and dictatorships, too?

They can do what they choose. Sponsorship and endorsement cuts both ways. If Brad Pitt or whoever wants to endorse Whizzo clothing, he assumes the risk that Whizzo's brand values and practices are a good match for his own.

The ethics of celebrity endorsement are not a new thing or particular to this case. There is only so much available public outrage at any one time.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:22 AM on February 3


If any folks haven't yet read Joe in Australia's link to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency article from last February, they probably should; it captures some of the complexities of the issue well:

“The SodaStream situation is extremely complicated because it’s a clear case of where the owners are making real efforts to engage the Palestinian workers with fair wages and in management positions,” said Kenneth Bob, president of the liberal Zionist group Ameinu, which supports the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank but still opposes boycotts of settlement products. “At the same time, it does on some level strengthen the occupation because it’s a factory over the Green Line,” the boundary between Israel and the West Bank.
posted by mediareport at 7:22 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Here's the article in The Forward, which was the basis for the Baltimore Jewish Life one above

The two articles are exactly the same, Joe, except for the headlines. Also, the Oxfam/Coke partnership is atrocious and worth emphasizing (it's exactly the kind of greenwashing garbage SodaStream is trying, and the criticisms of it are on point), so thanks for that, too.
posted by mediareport at 7:31 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: "Doubtful. Stars have out clauses for just this reason. She wants to do these commercials."

Missed this -- not sure how we leapt from "assume" to "fact." Can we leave some shadow of doubt as to what the movie star knew about the political affiliations of the commercial client?
posted by cavalier at 10:32 AM on February 3


Can we leave some shadow of doubt as to what the movie star knew about the political affiliations of the commercial client?

You mean the movie star who was an Oxfam Global Ambassador for more than eight years and spoke at the last Democratic National Convention.

Is it possible that she didn't know about SodaStream's plant in the West Bank before she signed on for the commercial? Sure.

Is it possible that she didn't know about it when she made the choice to step down from her role with Oxfam? Well, no. Clearly not.

Is it possible that her contract with SodaStream was unbreakable, forcing her to dump Oxfam? Yes, it does exist within the realm of possibility that someone who makes $20 million per picture doesn't have a team of lawyers and representatives and managers and agents savvy enough to get her out of a contract with a company that makes a home carbonation machine.

Shadow of a doubt? Maybe. Reasonable doubt? Nope.
posted by Etrigan at 10:47 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Okay... not looking for a fight here... just, you don't appear to be from the industry; once she signed it, once they shot it, its not her call what they do with it. Can she sue and bring a lot of press, sure. But once she originally shot it, which wasn't last week, pay for play kind of thing -- it's now theirs.

Whatevs, I'll leave this to folks who care more.
posted by cavalier at 11:03 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Schmucko: ". There was something anomalous about what we call the Holocaust, with the "civilized" world drawn into a war to eliminate one small people."

That's a helluva stretch, to say WWII was fought in order to eliminate the Jews. Most would say imperialism was a far greater motivation.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:51 AM on February 3


As for Scarlett Johansson, she is a bonafide hero, the first Hollywood star known to me who stood up proudly for Israel against the BDS movement.

That’s because no doubt she is aware that BDS is not about protecting Palestinians but about good old Israel and Jew-hatred. If it were about protecting Palestinians its first target would be the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza which aids and abets honor killings of young Palestinian women just for having boyfriends, regularly murders homosexual men on the false charges of collaboration with Israel, and regulary puts to death Palestinian citizens without judicial process.

--Read more: "Roger Waters, stop stalking Scarlett Johansson" / Shmuley Boteach. In The Times of Israel, Feb. 2, 2014.
posted by No Robots at 1:00 PM on February 3


I'm as against the occupation of Palestine and the settlements as anyone, but the reality is that a lot of the cheap shit you buy is manufactured under horrendous conditions. Not really sure why the need to focus on soda stream.

Atrocious manufacturing conditions are one thing, manufacturing conditions that break the Geneva conventions are another thing.
posted by moorooka at 1:28 PM on February 3


If it were about protecting Palestinians its first target would be...

the thing that it's vastly more likely to be able to change?
posted by Etrigan at 2:57 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Moorooka wrote: Atrocious manufacturing conditions [...]

Moorooka, the report linked above doesn't specify what it describes as "harsh working conditions", but after reading their source I think they mean long work days. Here's their source's followup (Google Translate) report, which begins [my translation]
The responsiveness of Sodastream, which now applies Israeli employment law to their Palestinian employees, must be considered exceptional. This response would not have occurred without media pressure on a Sodastream affiliate in Sweden that changed practices in the field. This is an example of the power of media and the strength of workers fighting for their livelihood, although the place is controversial because it is in occupied territory.
This followup came out nearly two years before the publication date of the WHO PROFITS report, which fails to address it. I think that this failure reflects badly on its authors.

For what it's worth, the photos, the workers' accounts, and reports by some pretty liberal media (e.g., The Forward, Christian Science Monitor) indicate that it's actually a pretty good place to work. I know factories, and this is not a video of some industrial hell-hole.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:04 PM on February 3


You obviously missed the point I was making Joe.
posted by moorooka at 3:24 PM on February 3


I'm sorry. What did you mean when you referred to "atrocious manufacturing conditions"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:54 PM on February 3


Israel is a tiny country. It is surrounded by huge arab countries that continuously threaten it. There are constant rocket and terror attacks against her. As a refuge for Jews in some future holocaust, it is a terrible option. I know the history. I know about the ships that were sent back to Germany with jews trying to escape to the US and elsewhere. Yet I just wonder if the lifeboat of Israel can be large and secure enough to weather the storm. I look back at how hard it was for Israel to absorb the Russian immigrants in the 1990s and I think even something that scale would be very challenging now. Housing is already scarce. Water supplies are extremely stressed.
posted by humanfont at 7:42 PM on February 3


Just read the rest of the comment Joe
posted by moorooka at 8:24 PM on February 3


Why not unpack it for me? How do the manufacturing conditions break the Geneva conventions? I thought you meant something like the prohibition on forced labor, but apparently not.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:29 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


The Geneva conventions prohibit settlements in occupied territory; my point (which I thought was obvious) is that it's the violation of international law that makes this factory qualitatively different from the innumerable horrible factories found all over the developing world, rather than anything particularly atrocious about its working conditions.
posted by moorooka at 8:39 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I think it's extraordinarily legalistic to say that you think international law makes a pleasant, well-regulated workplace offering decent wages and benefits worse than "the innumerable horrible factories found all over the developing world". I feel sorry for the employees; everybody else knows what's best for them.

In any case, let's look at the Geneva Conventions. I presume you're referring to Article 49 of the Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949:
[...] The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.
Reading that, I note two things: firstly, a factory isn't a settlement and a daily commute isn't a "transfer". Secondly, the convention may not even apply. For one thing, the West Bank is not "the territory of a High Contracting Party".

Finally, the area of Mishor Adumim is one of those which, under the Interim Agreement of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is one of the "issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations". I understand that every realistic peace plan involves the area remaining under Israeli sovereignity, but in any event it's something that is the subject of negotiation, as opposed to other areas which Israel agreed to withdraw from. By agreement between the parties, then, Israel's presence is not illegal.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:36 PM on February 3


I was just directed to this handy website for visualising the area: http://www.t-j.org.il/Portals/26/tj_maps.swf

Mishor Adumim is the zebra-striped bit to the right of the Old City when you select "Route of the Barrier" and then click on "Industrial Park". Enjoy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:26 PM on February 3


Vicky Cristina Jerusalem
posted by homunculus at 12:21 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Here's something potentially interesting: The Elder of Ziyon asks whether the WHO PROFITS database exclude Arab Israeli-owned businesses.

Apologies for any formatting issues; on my phone.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:58 AM on February 4


"Why Kerry is Scary ":
The “Kerry Plan,” likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Palestinians for them with Israeli territory. It will call for the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel proper…

If the Palestinians and Israelis find a way to proceed with the Kerry plan, everything is still possible. Success is hardly assured, but it will prove that it’s not midnight yet. But if either or both don’t agree, Kerry would have to take his mission to its logical, fanatical conclusion and declare the end of the negotiated two-state solution. (If not, he loses his credibility.)

If and when that happens, Israel, which controls the land, would have to either implement a unilateral withdrawal, live with the morally corrosive and globally isolating implications of a permanent West Bank occupation or design a new framework of one-state-for-two-people.

So that’s where we are: Israelis and Palestinians need to understand that Kerry’s mission is the last train to a negotiated two-state solution. The next train is the one coming at them. [emph Added]

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:25 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


An Open Letter on the Anti-Boycott Bills
posted by homunculus at 11:23 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Joe, I didn't say that international law makes this factory "worse" than any other, I said it made it qualitatively different. Now I suppose it's very "legalistic" to assert that international law matters at all. But here we are, and the Geneva convention prohibiting settlements does apply to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, at least according to everyone except Israel. (Unsurprisingly it is your position that everyone is wrong on this issue except Israel.)

The Sodastream factory is part of an illegal settlement, hence the controversy:

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, the land on which the Ma'ale Adumim settlement was built, including the Mishor Adumim Sodastream factory, was taken from 5 Palestinian towns and 2 Bedouin tribes evicted by the Israeli army during one of the largest land expropriations of Israel's 46 year occupation of the West Bank.[96][97] Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Ma'ale Adumim, are regarded as illegal under international law by the international community,[98] but the Israeli government disputes this.[99][100][101]

The European Union's highest court ruled in 2010 that Sodastream was not entitled to claim a "Made in Israel" exemption from EU customs payments for products manufactured in the West Bank because Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are outside the territorial scope of the EC-Israel Agreement.[102][103][104] The EU has stated that the settlements are “illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.”[105]

Norway, Sweden and Finland have boycotted SodaStream products from the Mishor Adumim factory, according to SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, who assures consumers that “Markets like Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway only receive products from outside this factory, from the mother of human rights -- China.”[106] One Paris court ruled that Association France Palestine Solidarite (AFPS), a French group campaigning for retailers to remove SodaStream from stores, must compensate SodaStream €6500 because the group claimed the products are sold "illegally and fraudulently" due to their use of the "Made in Israel" label while being partly manufactured in the West Bank.[107]

posted by moorooka at 1:06 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]



That's a helluva stretch, to say WWII was fought in order to eliminate the Jews. Most would say imperialism was a far greater motivation.


The Nazis invaded certain countries (Greece comes to mind) expressly for the purpose of liquidating the reservoirs of Jewishness they contained. Granted, ridding Europe of Jews may not have been their sole motivation, but it was pretty high up there.
posted by acb at 1:55 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Moorooka, it's not "according to everyone except Israel". Your profile says you're Australian; the Australian foreign minister, for one, has the same opinion.

As for the issue of land ownership in Maale Adumim, it was litigated by Peace Now, who subsequently conceded that only half of one percent of Maale Adumim was built on private land. That's their position; they haven't tried re-litigating it. B'tselem's claim - a decade before the issue was resolved in the courts - wasn't that the land was owned by anyone in particular, just that neighbouring villages used to graze sheep there. That may or may not be true, but what happens in Australia if people demand the right to graze sheep on state land?

The Geneva Convention doesn't prohibit settlements; it prohibits transfer of civilian population. As I said above, a factory does not represent a transfer of population.

Moorooka, I'm happy to engage with you either on the basis of legality or morality. What I can't do is respond to every Wikipedia article and press release you dig up if you're not going to engage with them yourself. In particular, I can't see why you'd refer to claims in a report from 1999 which were refuted by litigation in 2007 and subsequently retracted.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:01 PM on February 4


Yes, our fabulous new foreign minister, Julie Bishop, while in Jerusalem, made the comment that she was unaware which international law made the settlements illegal (incidentally that was the same day as this). If only every foreign minister in the world was as ignorant/dismissive of international law as Julie Bishop, then Israel would have nothing to worry about.

Well I won't be able to change your mind on this; I'll let you agree with Julie, and you can let me agree with "the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention".

A factory is not a transfer of population, but a settlement is, and this factory is part of a settlement (which is why its products can't be labelled as "made in Israel" in Europe), and that's why Oxfam is opposed to it. Not complicated.
posted by moorooka at 3:55 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


what happens in Australia if people demand the right to graze sheep on state land?

Um- state land of Australia? Or just state land under Australian military occupation?
posted by moorooka at 4:13 PM on February 4


Wow, the Oxfam representative does not come across well in this interview:

SodaStream CEO destroys Oxfam official on BBC

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:59 PM on February 4


Jodi Rudoren of the NYT tries her best to spin the story: In West Bank Settlements, Israeli Jobs Are Double-Edged Sword

Bonus points for describing Atarot as "occupied Palestinian territory".
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:36 AM on February 11


I clicked to read the article on John Kerry's peace plan and got as far as the byline Thomas Friedman" then I stopped faster than a Lexus hitting an olive tree.
posted by humanfont at 5:45 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The Independent isn't much of a newspaper, but I still read this with moderate astonishment: Rankin on Scarlett Johansson's SodaStream advert: Why Hollywood stars can't afford to be linked to Pro-Palestinian causes
So why did the actress with the cleanest PR track record in Hollywood opt for the latter and part ways with the former? [...] "I think the reason that she has not backed down is because in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry… What they could do to her career," he added, admitting he had "negative views" on SodaStream's West Bank operation.

"The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism. That extreme belief that this is their homeland and those people are worthless to them. [...]"

The Anti-Defamation League said McFarlane was "offensive" for propagating the "falsity of such Jewish stereotypes," saying "there's a higher potential for the ‘Jews control Hollywood' myth to be accepted as fact".

The strength of pro-Israel lobby groups in the US, led by the hugely powerful Israel Public Affairs Committee – known as Aipac, boasting 100,000 members and a $67m annual budget – is often criticised by Palestinian groups, however.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:05 PM on February 13


Bonus points for describing Atarot as "occupied Palestinian territory".

You mean bonus points for correctly identifying which side of the green line it's on?
posted by moorooka at 5:36 PM on February 13


No, I mean describing it as occupied Palestinian territory. Anyone who can describe it that way is an idiot or a thug. Here's a link to Wikipedia's article on it: it was a Jewish village before 1948, built on land purchased in 1912. The Jordanians expelled the inhabitants and turned it into an airport; how does that make it "Palestinian"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:46 PM on February 13


Probably the same thing that makes Jaffa "Israeli": internationally-recognized borders.
posted by moorooka at 7:44 PM on February 13


List of Arab towns and villages depopulated during the 1948 Palestinian exodus

You can't have it both ways Joe.
posted by moorooka at 8:16 PM on February 13


You seem to be conflating private title with state jurisdiction. As regards private title, I'm happy for everyone to be treated equally. People who lost property in 1948 should get it back or receive compensation.

That principle doesn't work with jurisdiction over the West Bank, though: Jordan's occupation wasn't internationally recognised, and they have since renounced it. So was Atarot illegally occupied since 1948, first by Jordan and then by Israel? Or did it magically change status at some date between 1967 and today, and if so, when?
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:17 PM on February 13


You seem to be conflating private title with state jurisdiction. As regards private title, I'm happy for everyone to be treated equally. People who lost property in 1948 should get it back or receive compensation.

Well that's what the Palestinian "right of return" is all about. Yet it is often treated as being a very unreasonable position. Does one need to be an "idiot" or "thug" to oppose it?

So was Atarot illegally occupied since 1948, first by Jordan and then by Israel?

Essentially. The starting point is the British "mandate", which was a colonial regime with the same legitimacy (or lack thereof) as other colonial regimes. The United Nations plan was that this British mandate would give way to separate Jewish and Arab self-determination, in the form of two states. The Israelis were able to secure a state for themselves in 48; but the Palestinians never got theirs, as King Abdullah of Jordan (basically a British client) decided to have the West Bank for himself (and from memory, the UK did actually recognize Jordanian sovereignty in the West Bank, even though nobody else did).

The fact that the Jordan/Britain decided to ignore the UN's plans for Palestine doesn't somehow make the West Bank up for grabs for whoever manages to conquer it. The principle of self-determination means that this is Palestinian territory over which no other country has any legitimate claim - no matter what the settler movement thinks their "God" has said about "Yesha".

The principles of international law mean that the acquisition of territory by force (as happened in 67) is inadmissible.
posted by moorooka at 9:44 PM on February 13


And btw "occupied Palestinian Territories" is the standard term used internationally (by the UN etc) for the West Bank and Gaza - for a journalist to use this standard term does not make them an "idiot" or a "thug".
posted by moorooka at 9:59 PM on February 13


Well, that's a very novel rereading of history.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:37 PM on February 13


How so?
posted by moorooka at 10:54 PM on February 13


Moorooka: Sorry for not replying earlier. The following is my attempt to show that there was no serious attempt to establish an Arab state alongside a Jewish State in Mandatory Palestine before 1948. I don't suggest that it ought to have anything to do with current rights or entitlements.

The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a dead letter from the outset. To start with, it was a resolution of the General Assembly, not the Security Council, and was therefore only a recommendation: the text of the resolution calls upon the locals to implement the plan; it appeals to various governments to not interfere; it requests that the Security Council take the necessary measures. The only concrete thing the resolution does is authorise travel expenses for a five-member Commission to oversee the proposed plan.

The plan itself was a bit of a joke; even if its proposed division had been practical, it was presented in November 1947 for implementation starting in May the next year, finishing by October! I don't think anyone could possibly have believed that this could have been done; passing the resolution was more symbolic than anything else. It's worth noting that the plan itself had been prepared so hurriedly that the proposed borders were not actually finalised! We all know how well that sort of thing worked out.

Anyway, the Arab League rejected the plan, so it was entirely moot. But why did the Arab League have a say? Where were the Palestinians? They didn't enter into it, because the dialectic of the time was about the existence or non-existence of a Jewish state, not the creation of an independent Arab entity. The Arab League ostensibly supported an unitary independent multi-ethnic state in Mandatory Palestine, but in actuality there were several groups maneuvering to gain the territory as part of Greater Syria (under Jordan), Greater Syria (under Syria), Pan-Arabia (under Egypt) and so forth. As a consequence of this, there was no group in Mandatory Palestine working for the establishment of an Arab State alongside a Jewish one; and there was actually very little support for an independent state of any sort.

You might argue as a matter of principle that Jordan should have helped create a sovereign Arab state in the territory it occupied after 1948. But why? You can hardly say that the Hashemite monarchy of Jordan, set in place a couple of decades earlier, was any more legitimate at home than it was in the West Bank. The Jordan River isn't a geographic barrier: even today, lots of of people have familial ties on both sides. If it was OK for Abdullah I to rule over Arabs on one side, it should have been OK for him to rule over Arabs on the other side. We know that most other countries didn't recognise this, but that was realpolitik, not principle. I loathe and despise monarchies, but as a practical point this is unarguable: somebody was going to rule not-Israel Mandatory Palestine, and the choices did not include a locally-elected democratic body.

So my criticism of Abdullah I's actions do not include the fact that he occupied "Palestinian Land". At the time he did so, nobody was seriously considering the idea that there ought to be an independant Arab state alongside the Jewish one. Instead, I criticise him for being a tyrant, and for genocide, and for ethnic cleansing. If not for Abdullah I (and the other leaders of the Arab League, but mostly him) there would probably be two multi-ethnic states in the region of Mandatory Palestine today: Israel, mostly Jewish, on one side of the Jordan; and Transjordan, mostly Arab, and mostly on the other side of the river.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:09 PM on February 15


I think that the point is not how much Arab support existed for the partition plan in 1947, but whether that lack of Arab support for partition in 1947 translates into Israel having a legitimate claim on the West Bank today.

I'm saying that under international law, Israel has no claim on this land, which was acquired by force in 1967, and that the people living there have the right to self determination and a state of their own (even if they've never had one before).

And of course these assholes should just go home.

You seem to think that Israel -and in effect, the settler movement- does actually have a legitimate claim on the occupied West Bank, on the grounds that without Abdullah getting in the way, the Israelis in 47 could have pushed all the way to the river Jordan (presumably carrying out enough "transfer" of the local population to make the area between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean majority Jewish). And if the Palestinians want a state, well, Jordan's right there.

But this logic wont carry water in international-law court, and I don't think it will persuade anybody who doesn't already believe in a god-given entitlement to "Yesha".
posted by moorooka at 2:31 AM on February 17


Let's confine ourselves to Atarot for now. Why is it now "occupied Palestinian land"? Because Jordan demolished the village and built an airport there? But you acknowledge that Jordan was acting illegally. Because of UNGA resolution 181? But that resolution was never implemented or finalised, and in any case it specifically preserved the rights of religious minorities: under that resolution the villagers of Atarot ought to retained their property and become citizens of the mooted Arab state.

I suggest that there is no answer. Nobody on either side is actually looking to resolve this with legalities and precedent, because the whole situation is a mess. The only real question is, what is the best thing to do? I don't have an answer for that, either, but at least it's a better question than "how shall we interpret UNGA resolution 181 versus the League of Nations mandate versus the Geneva Conventions versus some notes made by Lawrence of Arabia when he was a bit unwell."
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:28 AM on February 17


Actually, everyone knows the answer to that except the settler movement and their lackeys: GA Resolution 242, the 67 borders, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

It's not nearly as complicated as you're making out. The only people pretending it's complicated are people who think Israel is entitled to West Bank real estate taken from an occupied population at the point of a gun.

(It doesn't actually make a difference to the 67 borders whether Atarot was a depopulated Jewish town; there are dozens of depopulated Arab towns within Israel's 48 borders and when Hamas suggests that this should count for anything they're treated like arch-maniacs.)
posted by moorooka at 5:58 AM on February 17


Atarot wasn't "taken from an occupied population at the point of a gun". I mean, yes, it was taken from its owners at the point of Jordanian guns, but that was in 1948, not 1967; in 1967 it was a Jordanian airfield.

Anyway, we've now moved on from UNGA resolution 181. The practical problem with using the Green Line (the 1949 armistice lines) is that it's pretty arbitrary and wasn't actually meant to be a border. All the parties to the armistice agreed on that, and the armistice agreements explicitly confirm it. The armistice lines cut through populated areas and left irrational enclaves even when they were originally drawn; nearly fifty years later they only approximate a division between mostly-Jewish and mostly-Arab areas.

In recognition of the nature of the Green Line, UNSC resolution 242 explicitly avoided an implication that Israel was to withdraw from all the territories it captured in 1967; the wording "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from all the territories occupied" was proposed, but rejected in favor of "withdrawal [...] from territories". That is, it was written with the understanding that there would be border adjustments. I should also point out that UNSC resolution 181 was made under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter and only has the force of a recommendation to the parties. The actual, practical, steps that it called for are:
a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution
That's the only concrete effect of the resolution; the rest of it is merely expressing and emphasizing and affirming.

Even if we take the position that UNSC 242 ought to bind the parties, there's still a fundamental problem with applying the provisions in a legalistic way. UNSC 242 is not about borders; it's about "the establishment of a just and lasting peace". For some reason people never address the clauses of UNSC 242 that call for "a just settlement of the refugee problem" (Jewish as well as Arab ) and "guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area". But those clauses are given equal weight to the request for withdrawal; how can someone say that UNSC 242 is binding to the extent that Israel must leave Atarot, but not binding to the extent that the refugees from Atarot need be treated justly? And how would Israel pulling out of Atarot lead to "the establishment of a just and lasting peace", anyway? Pulling out of Gaza didn't.

Lastly, the 2002 Arab peace Initiative? Come on. There have been so many different partitions and road maps and peace initiatives that I have no ability to keep them straight, but are you trying to suggest that a plan suggested by Saudi Arabia and not approved by any international body should have the force of law?
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:32 PM on February 17


Why I mention the 2002 Arab Peace Plan is that it represented the entire Arab world getting on board (with the PLO) with the two state solution along the 67 borders (with minor and mutually-agreed-upon adjustments). That plan was nothing new - it just underlined the point that the Arab world accepts Israel's "right to exist" within its actual borders; the problem is that Israel doesn't like those borders.

The fundamental point of Resolution 242 is that the acquisition of territory by force is inadmissible under international law. Israel does not get a special "allowed-to-acquire-territory-by-force" exception. Regardless of the status of the territories prior to 67, Israel is entitled to none of the West Bank by virtue of its being an occupying power, nor by virtue of its program of settlement construction (which is also a violation of international law).

The benefits of the 67-borders solution are that it is simple, it is logical, it's true to the spirit and the letter of international law, it is as fair as a solution can be given the history, and it is accepted and recognized as the solution by the whole international community. The obstacle is a settler movement and it's sympathizes who think that Israel's green line borders make it too small, and that the Palestinians should just accept that Yesha rightfully belongs to the Jews, either because God gave it to them or because "might makes right". And that the IDF should stay there to secure the West Bank settlement program against the will of its native population. I get the impression that you share these beliefs, although you don't state them plainly.

Instead you focus the history of little Atarot as if it has any relevance whatsoever for the legal or moral status of Israel's occupation over the entire West Bank. If some Australians who moved to Fiji, bought property and lived there, and were then dispossessed and kicked out by (let's keep this simple) the Fijian government, would that somehow give the Australian government a right to occupy and colonize Fiji?

The argument that you can use what happened in Atarot as justification for occupying and colonizing the whole West Bank (or any of it, for that matter) is absurd. What makes Atarot more special than all the Arab villages in Israel that were depopulated? Are you an advocate of the Palestinian right of return? I'm guessing not. Two standards of justice.

The whole world recognizes the 67 borders as the only realistic reasonable compromise. Once you reject this compromise, on the grounds (e.g.) that Atarot should not belong to a Palestinian state because it was once Jewish, then you invite a refusal to accept that those Arab villages in Israel that were depopulated in 47-48 should ever be part of Israel. It cuts both ways. Ultimately you have to understand that by accepting Israel's "right to exist" within the 67 borders the Palestinians have already made a huge concession; it is too much to also expect that they should let Israel have as much of the West Bank as it wants. Israel needs to accept this concession and make one of its own, by withdrawing from all of the occupied Palestinian territories - and not just from Atarot, or Gaza, or the "too-many-Arabs" bits of the West Bank that it doesn't actually want.

The only civilised alternative would be to annex the whole of the territories and give equal citizenship to all the people living there. As the settlement program intensifies, making a genuine withdrawal look increasingly unrealistic, I expect that this is what may end up happening - although it may take a hundred years and a Palestinian Mandela.
posted by moorooka at 11:15 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I mentioned Atarot only because it was raised in connection with Sodastream as being "occupied Palestinian territory". I didn't introduce the subject of other parts of the West Bank; you did. If you want to discuss "the legal or moral status of Israel's occupation over the entire West Bank" I suggest we take it to email. I hardly think it can be productive, though: neither of us live there, neither of us have any special insights, and neither of us can influence things one way or the other.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:43 PM on February 18


Not much of an article.

Daily Mail (UK): Scarlett Johansson defends herself for first time since Super Bowl SodaStream ad which saw her dropped as Oxfam ambassador for breaching charity's Israeli boycott
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:55 PM on February 27


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