This morning, after first shoveling a large dump of wet heavy snow, I met local Episcopal Deacon Carol Huntington at a coffee shop in our downtown Bath shopping area. We prepared to cross the street to a popular local store called Now You're Cooking where we had an appointment with the owner. We carried a letter asking him to stop selling SodaStream carbonation devices or other products made by this company.
SodaStream manufactures these machines within an Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory
. These settlements are illegal under
international law and are obstacles to peace.
The store owner brought us into his office and had three of his staff join us. Carol, who has been to Palestine twice in the last 16 months, and I asked him not to continue supporting this unethical enterprise built on lands stolen from the Palestinian people. We handed him the letter full of signatures from people who live in the Midcoast of Maine. Carol shared with him a church produced document called "Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace." It chronicles the history of Israel's illegal theft of Palestinian lands and the ever expanding settlements that to this day keep grabbing even more land and water.
The store owner was polite and made the case that he likes to let his customers decide for themselves what they will and will not purchase. He said many of his products come from China but he does not support the way that government is run.
The boycott of SodaStream is having an impact. Bloomberg Businessweek
recently reported that, "SodaStream slumped 3.3 percent to $35.34 in New York [stock exchange], the lowest since Nov. 20, 2012. The stock plunged 26 percent on Jan. 13 after SodaStream reported worse-than-forecast preliminary earnings for 2013."
I reminded the store staff of the recent global celebrations of the life of Nelson Mandela. I suggested that South African apartheid was ultimately defeated in large part due to global economic boycotts and sanctions of that nation. The bantustans in South Africa, virtually identical to the reservations on Indian land across the US, are in fact what we see today in Palestine. The people face cultural genocide as their lands are taken, their ability to grow food is destroyed, and their remaining villages are separated from one another by the occupation wall.
The store owner did tell us that he was hearing from some of his customers about the boycott though he said he has about 200 people who he supplies with SodaStream products. We told him that this effort was not directed at him personally but that we wanted to be upfront and inform him that we will continue to ask others in the community to share their feelings about SodaStream with him.
As we left the store I told the shop owner and his staff that they needed
to learn more about the history of the Palestinian land that the
SodaStream factory sits on today.
If you live in the Midcoast and are at all inclined to support the SodaStream boycott
we ask you to contact Now You're Cooking in Bath and share your feelings.
Wherever you live you can help bring justice to the Palestinian people by lending a hand to the boycott of Israeli products as long as that nation continues to enforce their apartheid system on the people of Palestine.