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February 3, 2014 6:26 pm

An Open Letter to Reuters on SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson

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Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Not that I expect anything to be done, but when they know people are watching them, they tend to be a little more careful.

Dear Editor,

In the story “Israeli settlement factory sparks Super Bowl-sized controversy,” writer Noah Browning interviews a worker at the SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumim:

One mid-level Palestinian employee who spoke to Reuters outside the plant, away from the bosses, painted a far less perfect picture, however.

“There’s a lot of racism here,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can’t ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced.”

I’ve noted on my blog that Browning has shown serious anti-Israel bias in the past, and this story appears to add to that list.

The fact is that there have now been nine articles in the media interviewing workers at the plant, and only two of them exclusively found a worker that was disgruntled. Every single other outlet found that the workers were happy and against any boycott of SodaStream.

For documentation, see my articles herehere, and here.

Given Browning’s record and the anomalous nature of his reporting here – the only media outlet that agrees with him is virulently and openly anti-Israel – this story and his reporting reflects poorly on Reuters, and indicates a serious problem with interview bias done by Browning in order to push an agenda rather than reflect the truth of the situation.

Please review Browning’s Middle East articles in general, especially the ones I noted, as well as this article in particular. How many people did he interview altogether? Did he only choose the one interview that jived with his biases? Did he purposefully seek out the same employee that Electronic Intifada interviewed? It is astonishing that 7 separate, independent media outlets find that virtualy all employees agree with each other that they are happy, and only Browning and EI found the counter-examples.



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  • Alan Bernson

    I’d like to ask Reuteurs this question:

    When can we expect that you will conduct a survey at a factory in “Palestine ” and have a similar interview where you ask Jewish workers the same questions that you directed to Palestinian workers ?

    • Joseph Kelly

      Isn’t Reuters owned by Saudi Arabia?

  • it has been mentioned that SodaStream employs about 500 Arabs at the plant demonized by Oxfam. is it expected that everyone of them should be satisfied?What company in the world has 100% employee satisfaction. What Arab owned company pays equal pay for equal work.male,female,gay,straight plus benefits? But we’re
    talking Israel here,that’s the problem,the modus operandi
    of outfits like Oxfam and media outlets like Reauters is to find fault,villify ,distort andc deceive but NEVER BE
    HONEST !

  • David

    Relax. It’s entirely possible that a few Palestinians have complaints, and perhaps the majority of them are relatively comfortable there, and appreciate having a job. Israelis, conditioned by their past, seem to always (well, not always) look for the negatives when it’s okay, once in a while, to not be “astonished” that someone has a different opinion.

    • PAK

      The point wasn’t/isn’t that one worker (or even a handful of or more workers) was unhappy. The point is that only one worker with one point of view was discussed in the Reuters article. And while I haven’t read the Reuters article, I did read the electronic intifada article, and there you have one “worker” hiding behind the one-letter alias “M” complaining. BDS and other Israeli bashers have and will trumpet that one “story” around the internet and other media until it becomes “Sodastream has slave labor.” That type of distortion and out-right lying needs to be stopped before it gets started. I just gave to two friends Sodastreams, neither had any idea of the story or for that matter the increasing anti-semitism that is happening in France, etc. It’s doubtful that they will become activists against the anti-zionists or anti-semites of this world, but at least they are now somewhat more aware. So no, given history, given what is happening now, and given internet access, you don’t relax, even if you are not the direct target.

  • Or is it possible that Browning “invented” his dissatisfied interviewee. Or maybe he just directed the interview in the way he wished it to go, as an experienced interviewer can so easily do.