SodaStream target of Palestine Human Rights group in NZ

Dr Aisha Sarwar of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign talks to police during the protest at The Warehouse in Hamilton ...
Janice Abo Ganis

Dr Aisha Sarwar of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign talks to police during the protest at The Warehouse in Hamilton on Saturday.

Your kitchen bench fizzy machine has become a bubbling ground for political warfare.

The Palestine Human Rights Campaign Waikato (PHRC) is calling for people to boycott SodaStream - which is produced in Israel. 

A SodaStream Wood Light Plated machine.
Supplied

A SodaStream Wood Light Plated machine.

Sodastream previously had a factory within an illegal settlement in the Israeli-occupied territory in the West Bank - the heart of Israel-Palestine conflict.

On Saturday, the group launched the first of multiple protests planned around the country calling for boycotts of all Israeli-products, specifically SodaStream.

Around 15 members of the group entered The Warehouse at The Base, Hamilton, and handed out fliers which outlined the groups ultimate goal - to get SodaStream off all shelves in NZ.

Kate Hayward protests with the Palestine Human Rights Campaign Waikato asking people to boycott SodaStream.
Janice Abo Ganis

Kate Hayward protests with the Palestine Human Rights Campaign Waikato asking people to boycott SodaStream.

"We don't want it sold in New Zealand," group spokesperson Dr Asad Khan said.

"We support the economical and social boycott of Israel," Khan said, referring to the overarching boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that the group is part of.

He likened the campaign to tactics used to influence change against apartheid South Africa.

In a statement from SodaStream NZ, the company confirmed the West Bank factory had closed. Al Jazeera reported this had resulted in 470 Palestinian workers losing their jobs. A new plant has opened in the Negev in Israel's southern region.

Khan said the group was aware SodaStream had announced the factory had closed, however the boycott action would continue so long as the product was made in Israel - regardless of whether the factory's land is illegal.

Celebrity Scarlett Johansson stepped down from her position as ambassador for Oxfam after being criticised over her ...
Getty Images

Celebrity Scarlett Johansson stepped down from her position as ambassador for Oxfam after being criticised over her endorsement deal with Israeli company SodaStream.

Regarding the effect on employment, Khan said he felt it was a price the Palestinian workers were "prepared to pay".

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"It helped toward the end of the occupation [by the factory]. I understand that argument but it can be countered."

The company said financial reasons were behind the closure of the West Bank factory. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement said its pressure was behind the decision.

The boycott movement has only had a "marginal" effect on the SodaStream business, chief executive Daniel Birnbaum told The Guardian. He said his Palestinian employees were given pay and benefits far higher than anything else they could find in the West Bank.

"It's propaganda. It's politics. It's hate. It's antisemitism. It's all the bad stuff we don't want to be part of," Birnbaum said.

Israeli ambassador, Yosef Livne condemned the BDS movement's tactics, and said it was another facet of economic warfare in Israel.

"The BDS campaign is a well-known anti-Israeli scare tactic employed by people motivated by hatred and ignorance.

"By supporting the aims of this movement the message that is being projected is against peace and against negotiations. Whereas the thrust of these people may be directed against Israeli-owned companies, more often than not the main victims of their tactics are the very employees of those companies who in many cases are Palestinians."

 - Stuff

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