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December 18, 2014 10:44 am

Harvard Suspends Purchases From SodaStream After Anti-Israel Pressure

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Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. Photo: wiki commons. – After anti-Israel pressure, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) has suspended its purchase of soda and water machines produced by Israel-based SodaStream, the beverage carbonation company with a plant in Judea and Samaria.

HUDS made the decision in the wake of complaints by two pro-Palestinian student groups, the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society.

The SodaStream plant in Ma’ale Adumim—which the company recently announced would close for “purely commercial” reasons and be replaced by a plant in northern Israel by late 2015—has been providing steady employment to 500 Palestinians and 450 Israeli Arabs this year, a fact that has been ignored by groups that have made the company a frequent target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“The BDS movement seeks to demonize, isolate and destroy Israel as a Jewish state. It is a pro-hate, anti-peace movement. BDS proponents actively advocate for the privilege of one group’s rights over another. … Harvard University and HUDS are creating an environment that Israelis could rightfully perceive as hostile. If the presence of Israeli-made goods on campus creates discomfort for Harvard, then so, too, could the presence of Israeli students and academics,” Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, wrote in a letter to Harvard President Drew Faust.

Kenneth L. Marcus, president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said in a statement, “In many ways, these micro-BDS efforts [such as boycotting SodaStream] are more dangerous than broader campaigns against the entire country of Israel, because they are sneakier and more deceptive.”

“They target one or two companies, or a short list of Israeli politicians or universities,” he said. “And they claim that they are not advocating boycotts against the entire Jewish nation. But they are based on the notion that it is okay to apply different standards to Israelis than to the rest of the world’s peoples. And they ultimately end up in the same place. All anti-Israel boycotts, whether limited or comprehensive, advance the same agenda, which is to deny Israel normalcy and legitimacy. This is a deeply anti-Semitic campaign and it must be understood as such.”

Earlier this year, Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson had drawn criticism from the U.K.-based charity Oxfam International for appearing in a Super Bowl TV commercial for SodaStream, leading her to quit her role as a global ambassador for Oxfam.

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  • Jeffrey Stutz

    Shame on Harvard. This action is an affront to Israel and Jews everywhere. It should be met with swift condemnation. Donors should let the university know how displeased they are.

  • Jeremy Freedman

    As an alumni of Harvard, I am deeply disturbed and disappointed with the actions of HUDS in giving in to this blatant anti-semitic campaign. Israel is the only democracy in the entire Middle East – the only nation in that region that ascribes to the values we cherish in America – and yet it is singled out for this absurd boycott treatment. I am offended by the way in which the regimes in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Jordan treat women, deny freedom of speech to their people, do not allow freedom of expression or freedom to practice different religions, and how they do not have independent judiciaries. Is HUDS doing anything to boycott purchases from these nations?

  • Barry Cutler

    It is interesting that Harvard University Dining Room Services had to withdraw a product that they found worthy of serving because of pressure from some Pro Palestinian groups. The product itself is now know to be Israeli made only because similar groups made it a target. It is only soda pop.

    Those who do not wish to drink it do not have to.

  • Lynne T

    Shurat Ha’din has a long enough list of entities to sue for damages, but maybe SJP and PSC should be, for harming SodaStream’s right to do business in the US for malicious purposes.

  • rulierose

    if anyone had any doubts that “pro-Palestinian” really means “anti-Israel,” the Soda Stream pogrom should allay them. the BDS people are unconcerned that actual real Palestinian people might lose their jobs. demonizing Israel takes precedence over everything else.

    it’s beyond sad now…it’s sick.

  • A. Sanders

    How undignified is Havard’s behaviour towards Israel. What will the next thing they will concede, the demands of another pressure group against a democratic state. Soon this once great institution will concede to the demands of every terrorist group fro Hamas, ISIL, Hezbollah and the like so as not to offend them. Harvard should be stripped of its status in the world f higher education