16 February 2014

Sodastream – a toxic brand – sees profits slump

Scarlett Johanssen doesn’t sell

Sodastream must rue the day that they opened what was going to be their first shop in Brighton.  It’s what’s called a loss leader.  No one goes in to buy their toxic drinks and the Zionist counter-demonstrators have done a good job in keeping the public away!
As usual an empty shop and a bored security guard

Sodastream is paying a high price for establishing a factory in the West Bank settlement of Mishor Adumim.

Palestinian demonstrators
Daniel Birnbaum, Sodastream's CEO, has engaged in non-stop PR to try and reverse the Boycott Sodastream campaign.  All he’s done is to dig a deeper hole into which his profits have flowed.
The big idea, buying Scarlett Johanssen, as a brand name has backfired.  She has shown how Hollywood stars place career and money in front of their human rights work.  In Johanssen’s case, it was just naked greed that was obvious to all.
the empty shop that adds to Sodastream's profit woes
Below are just some of the stories about their financial worries in mainstream and financial journals:

Now their profits have slumped and financial investors see it as irreversible.

SodaStream keeps the fizz going despite squeezed margins

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Feb. 04 2014

Shareholders in carbonated drink machine company SodaStream International Ltd. are looking for less controversy and more profit to prevent the stock from going flat.
James - one of the fundamental Christians who wanted to hasten the Rapture
SodaStream shares have fizzled out since the Israel-based company issued a profit warning last month that also coincided with a backlash for its decision to operate a factory in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank.  
Reality and my take: The Soda story has lost its fizz and is unlikely to get it back.
-- Written by Herb Greenberg in San Diego

Bubble trouble: SodaStream shares fizzle on profit warning

“We expected some weakness in U.S. sales but are surprised by the magnitude of the company’s gross margin and earnings miss,” Jim Chartier, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Company, said in a report cited by Bloomberg News yesterday.
 A clear message Occupation is not Green
He downgraded the stock to Neutral from Buy. “While we continue to believe in the story longer term, we are moving to the sidelines until we have greater clarity on the company’s gross margin issues,” Chartier said.

Sodastream issues FY profits warning

SodaStream's NASDAQ shares plunged 25% yesterday after news of the profits warning. The stocks had dropped about 20% in the preceding three months.

SodaStream announces profit warning after 'challenging' Christmas

SodaStream loses fizz as forecasts are cut

Rising production costs and a poor festive season have seen profits slump

The Guardian, Monday 13 January 2014
a new Zionist who believes that the holocaust justifies Israeli racism
Shares of SodaStream International Ltd were down 21% at $38.96, at midday on Monday, in New York.
Palestinian supporter and a Fundie Christian behind him
These are just some samples of the depth of the crisis facing Sodastream.  Brighton, the place where the Boycott of Sodastream took off (or its opportunistically named ‘Ecostream’) had made the campaign a national priority for Palestine activists.

Below there are photos of the Brighton Sodastream demonstrations for the last couple of weeks.
Picketing Sodastream
A few Zionists, weirdos and thugs, coupled with a few Christian Fundamentalists, the most dedicated of the lot, who would like to see all Jews perish in the battle of Armageddon to hasten Jesus’ return, are doing a good job in putting the people of Brighton off.  We gave in a petition of over 1,500 names to the local MP Caroline Lucas (who has been subject to some vile sexist abuse on leader Simon Cobb’s twitter a/c) – it was rapidly deleted but we got a screen print.
Shaker Rozanski, a lunatic Israeli, with the smiling fool beside him
When I come along, usually I can give only about ½ an hour because of health reasons, I get abuse of the ‘traitor’ ‘self-hater’ variety.  As I’ve pointed out to these dim Zionists, it was the Nazis who accused German anti-fascists of being ‘traitors’ and ‘self-haters’ because they literally hated their nation and race.  Once again Zionist bigots demonstrate that they have much in common with the Nazis,
Scarlett adds her voice to the Boycott
Cobbs called me a ‘kapos’ and self-hater a few weeks ago and when I responded he recorded the response only, since which time has made a complaint to the Police.  However the Police don’t seem that interested as I did get a request to be interviewed but after my solicitor intervened it seems to have been postponed sine die.

Another Zionist who made a complaint against me is an Israeli nutcase, Shaker Rozanski, who picks on one theme (‘traitor’, Syria etc.) and repeats it ad nauseum.  A few weeks ago I called him a Jewish Nazi and he complaint to no avail to the Police.  Last week he made a move across the path that people walk on in order to attack me, so I was forced to punch with with a left hook.   Shaker squealed and whined to the Police who have said they will no doubt want to talk to me about this too!  However the law on self-defence is quite clear.  If you perceive a threat of violence to you then you can act pre-emptively.

The Zionists fixate upon the Kapos, who the Nazis selected to carry out the supervision of other Jews.  However they had no choice.  Indeed it was the Kapos who initiated the rebellions at Auschwitz (where one of the crematoria was blown up), Treblinka, where many Jews escaped and Sobibor, where hundreds of Jews and others escaped.

It was the Jewish Councils, the Judenrat which provided the lists of who to round up and their accomplices in the Jewish police who were the real traitors and 66% of Jewish Council members were Zionists.  The Zionists, who were favoured by the Nazi government in Germany prioritised building their ghetto state to saving Jews.  Indeed they actively tried to prevent anyone else from rescuing Jews if the destination was not Palestine. One of Ben-Gurion’s most shocking statements concerned the attempts to rescue Jewish German children and send them to Britain.  Fortunately the Zionist attempts to sabotage the kinder transports came to nothing:
Scarlett Johanssen brings nothing but woe
“If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, then I would opt for the second alternative.   For we must weigh not only the life of these children–but also the history of People of Israel." Lenni Brenner, p.149 'Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, citing Yoav Gelber, ‘Zionist policy and the fate of European Jewry 1939-42, Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. 12, p.199 and Tom Segev, p.28, the 7th Million.  Ben-Gurion to the Mapai CC, 7.12.38, Labour Party Archives, Bet Berl Tsofit., 22/38, Shabtai Teveth The Burning Ground, p.855.
Zionism was a favoured movement amongst the Nazis (see Lucy Dawidowic, p.118, War Against the Jews).  It is a movement of collaboration.  As Jewish and non-Jewish people recognise what Zionism is and its abuse of anti-Semitism as a weapon against its opponents, so Israel is facing a never increasing Boycott.
Jill Young - another mad Christian
It is important though to remember that whether or not Sodastream moves its factory from the West Bank, which is a distinct possibility, it will still be an Israeli company that should be boycotted.  The West Bank settlers have done nothing that the Zionists in Israel within the fictitious Green Line haven’t done before them.  As Israel Galili, a founder of Ahdut Ha'avoda, former Minister of Information and Minister without Portfolio and a member of Golda Meir's top Cabinet and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Ministerial Committee for Settlement said:
"Our right in Gaza is exactly like our right in Tel Aviv. We are colonising Gaza exactly in the same manner in which we colonized Yafa. Those who doubt our right in Gaza should doubt our right in Tel Aviv as well." Israel Galili, quoted in Haaretz, April 18, 1972 as reprinted in Israel: Utopia incorporated, Uri Davis, Zed Press, London, 1977, p. 15.
Even were it possible to separate Israel from the West Bank, then Israel would still be the oppressor of the Palestinians and a reactionary gendarme of imperialism.  There can be no solution to the problem of Israel without de-Zionisation and the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Tony Greenstein

Netanyahu convenes ministers to discuss growing Israel economic boycott threats

Knesset ministers to consider whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through diplomatic channels.

By Barak Ravid Feb. 9, 2014
Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Yuval Steinitz Photo by Daniel Bar-On
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting Sunday evening to discuss how to cope with the growing threat of the economic boycott on Israel in light of continued occupation and settlement construction in the West Bank.

Senior Israeli officials said prior to the meeting that the plan was to try to decide on a strategy and determine whether to launch an aggressive public campaign or operate through quieter, diplomatic channels.

The discussion had been scheduled to take place last week, but cancelled at the last minute due to the political row between Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Sunday's meeting will take place amid a different confrontation – this time between Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The previous discussion was supposed to include a broad forum of ministers. The Science Ministry asked to separate the discussion on the economic boycott threat from a discussion on the academic boycott threat, since there is already a strategy for the latter, while the former has yet to be dealt with.
The discussion, scheduled to begin at 5:30 P.M., will only include Lieberman, Bennett and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who is expected to present a plan his ministry has been working on.
According to plan, Israel should be proactive in its opposition to organizations who promote boycotts against Israel. The plan proposes to invest substantial resources in organising a public campaign.
Minister Steinitz is demanding a budget of 100 million shekels for implementation of the plan, which would include PR materials and aggressive legal and media campaigns against pro-boycott organizations.

The Foreign Ministry has a different approach. Diplomats think the non-governmental organizations pushing for a wide-ranging boycott against Israel and not strictly against the settlements are relatively marginal and that a public campaign against them will only play into their hands, bolstering them.
The Foreign Ministry thinks the public response to organizations promoting a boycott against Israel should be constricted. It wants to focus on less public diplomatic activity to combat such initiatives and believes advancing the peace process with the Palestinians will stave off a large portion of the boycott threats.

One of the issues to be discussed at the meeting is whether to file legal suits in European and North American courts against organizations that are proponents of the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Ministers will also consider whether to take legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements, or boycott Israeli companies that are somehow operating in or connected to the settlements.

Another consideration is whether to activate the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., specifically AIPAC, in order to promote legislation in Congress against the economic boycott of Israel, akin to the legislation that was passed in the 1970's against the Arab boycott.

One of the issues that will be raised during the discussion is that there is a lack of knowledge and inefficient tracking by Israeli intelligence of pro-BDS organizations.

The Strategic Affairs Ministry has provided the Israel Defense Forces' intelligence department a budget of several million shekels for the purpose of bolstering military surveillance of such organizations. However, the need for the prime minister to instruct the Shin Bet Security Service and the Mossad on the efforts is likely to come up.

A Taste of their own Medicine

Incompetent as well as Brutal and Sadistic

Israeli Soldiers Gas Themselves

Tear gas is used almost as a matter of course by the Israeli Occupation Forces against Palestinian demonstrations at Bil’in.  It’s nice to see them tasting their own gas!

Tony Greenstein

Photo credit: Hamde Abu Rahma
Date taken: February 7, 2014
Location: Bil’in, West Bank, Palestine

Israeli soldiers quickly evacuate a military jeep after setting off tear gas canisters inside of the vehicle. The soldiers had been deployed to confront protesters in the West Bank village of Bil’in where a weekly demonstration against Israel’s barrier wall is held.

Just moments earlier, the soldiers had been chasing demonstrators and firing tear gas canisters at unarmed protesters with the sole purpose of scattering crowds and prematurely ending the demonstration. These tear gas canisters have proven to be fatal in recent years. On April 17, 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmeh was fatally struck in the chest by a teargas canister. On December 31, 2010, Jawaher Abu Rahmah inhaled the tear gas and failed to respond to treatment, dying the following day.

Protests in Bil’in have been organized every week since early 2005.

Shulamit Aloni - A Beacon of Tolerance Amidst a Sea of Racism

The Death of Shulamit Aloni and the idea of a progressive Zionism

It is with sadness that I learnt of the death of Shulamit Aloni, who formed the Civil Rights Party in 1973, which then went onto form an alliance with the ‘left’ Zionist Mapam and Centre Party Shinui Meretz, in 1992.

Shulamit was leader of Meretz for many years, having previously been an MK for Mapai (Israeli Labour Party).   She was a Zionist but one of the few who genuinely believed in peace. She was the last of the Magnes Zionists. Whereas Mapam, which joined Meretz, had a militaristic history and fully participated in the Nakba, and the massacre of Palestinians, Ratz genuinely had a commitment to civil rights and Aloni herself supported, for example, the refusal of soldiers to serve in the West Bank.

A feminist she fought against the oppression of women and the virulent hatred of the Orthodox for gays.  She was one of the first to  oppose the Occupation of The Territories.  She herself wanted to see a complete separation between religion and state and when she was a member of the Rabin government in 1992, she was shunted into a minor ministerial post from being Education Minister after the National Religious Party  joined Rabin’s government.  It couldn’t stand a woman having responsibility for the grants that the extreme anti-Arab Yeshivahs (relilgious seminaries).

Tony Greenstein

A tribute to the outstanding and outspoken Shulamit

Shulamit Aloni, then education minister, talking to students in 1992. Photo by David Rubinger/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Return, Return oh Shulamit

Shulamit Aloni as a young woman with her mother.
By Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom, February 01, 2014

PETE SEEGER touched my life only once. But what a touch. It was a few days before the 1967 Six-Day War. After almost three weeks of mounting tension, the war fever was nearing breaking point. I knew that the war was only days, perhaps hours, away. Dina Dinur, the wife of the Holocaust-writer K. Zetnik, called to invite me to meet Pete Seeger. Dina, a huge woman, had for years gathered a small group of Jewish and Arab intellectuals who met regularly in her home to discuss peace.

The meeting took place in Tel Aviv’s Hilton hotel. It was sad, depressed, but also uplifting in a strange way. We were thinking about all the young men, ours and theirs, still alive and breathing, who were going to die in the next few days.
We were a group of two or three dozen people, Jews and Arabs. Pete sang for us, accompanying himself on the guitar, songs about peace, humanity, rebellion. We were all deeply stirred.

I never met Pete Seeger again. But 19 years later, out of the blue, I received a postcard from him. It said in clear handwriting: “Dear Uri Avnery – Just a note of deep thanks to you for continuing to reach out, and take action. I hope next time you are in USA my family and I can get to hear you. Pete Seeger.” Then three Chinese characters and a sketch of what seems to be a banjo.

TWO DAYS before Pete passed away, we buried Shulamit Aloni. Perhaps some of those who took part in that earlier sad meeting were present this time, too.

Shula, as we called her, was one of the few leaders of the Israeli Left who made a lasting imprint on Israeli society.
Though she was five years younger than I, we belonged to the same generation, the one which fought in the 1948 war. Our lives ran on parallel lines – lines which, as we learnt at school, can be very close but never touch.

We were both elected to the Knesset at the same time. Before that, we were active in the same field. I was the editor of a magazine that was prominent, among other things, in the fight for human rights. She was a teacher and lawyer, already famous for defending citizen’s rights in the press and on radio.

That sounds easy, but at the time it was revolutionary. Post-1948 Israel was still a country where The State was everything, citizens were there merely to serve the state, and especially the army. The collective was everything, the individual next to nothing. Shula was preaching the opposite: the state was there to serve its citizens. Citizens have rights that cannot be taken away or diminished. This has become part of the Israeli consensus.

HOWEVER, THERE was a great difference between our situations. Shula came from the heart of the establishment, which hated my guts. She was born in a poor part of Tel Aviv, and when both her parents enlisted in the British army during World War II, she was sent to the youth village Ben Shemen, a center of Zionist indoctrination. One of her schoolmates was Shimon Peres. At the same time I was a member of the Irgun, in stark opposition to the Zionist leadership.

After Ben Shemen, Shula joined Kibbutz Alonim – hence her adopted family name – where she met and married Reuven, who became prominent as a senior government official in charge of judaizing Galilee.

Apart from writing articles and dealing with citizens’ complaints on the radio, she performed illegal wedding ceremonies. In Israel, weddings are the exclusive province of the Rabbinate, which does not recognize women’s equality.

In the Knesset she was a member of the ruling Labor Party (then called Mapai) and subject to strict party discipline. I was a one-man faction, free to do as I pleased. So I could do many things she couldn’t, such as submitting bills to legalize abortions, to allow harvesting organs for transplantation, annulling the old British law against homosexual relations between consenting adults, and such.
Against religious dominion: Dozens of people demonstrate on Shabbat, September 2009, against the lack of public transportation in Jerusalem on Shabbat during a Meretz party protest called “Shabbat of Freedom.” Photo by Alon Hooter.
I also demanded a total separation between the state and religion. Shula was known for her attacks on religious coercion concerning civil rights. Therefore I was utterly surprised when in one of our first conversations she strenuously objected to such separation. “I am a Zionist,” she said, “The only thing that unites all Jews around the world is the Jewish religion. That is why there can be no separation between the state and the Jewish religion in Israel.”

From there on, her outlook widened from year to year. To my mind, she followed the inescapable logic of the Left. From her original concentration on citizens’ rights, she moved to human rights in general. From there to the separation of state and synagogue. From there to feminism. From there to social justice. And, in the end, to peace and the fight against the occupation. Throughout she remained a Zionist.

This was no easy path. In early 1974, when she was elected to the Knesset again, this time as the leader of a small party, while I lost my seat, I took her in my car to a meeting in Haifa. On the way, which took about an hour, I told her that now, as a party leader, she must get active in the fight for peace. “Let’s divide the task between us,” she answered, “You deal with peace and I deal with civil rights.”

But 20 years later, Shula was already a leading voice for peace, for a Palestinian state, against the occupation.
Golda Meir -  the Great Hater
WE HAD another thing in common. Golda Meir hated our guts.

Shula could disregard the party line as long as the benevolent Levy Eshkol was prime minister. When he suddenly died and the scepter passed to Golda, the rules changed abruptly. Golda had a domineering personality, and, as David Ben-Gurion once said about her, the only thing she was good at was hating. Shula, a young and good-looking woman, with unorthodox ideas, aroused her ire. In 1969 she removed Shula from the party list. In 1973, when Shula tried again, Golda showed the full force of her spite: at the very last minute she removed Shula again.

It was too late for Shula to go through the lengthy procedure of setting up a new party list. But a miracle happened. A group of feminists had prepared a list of their own, with all the necessary requirements already completed, but without a chance of passing the minimum threshold. It was an ideal combination: a leader without a list for a list without a leader. During the last hours of the time allocated for the submission of the lists, I saw Shula struggling with a huge pile of papers, trying to bring some order to the hundreds of signatures. I helped her to do the job. Thus the new party, now called Meretz, came into being and won three seats on its first attempt.

HER HOUR of glory came in 1992. Meretz won 250,667 votes and became a political force. The new Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, needed her for his new government. Shula became Minister of Education, a job she coveted.

The trouble was that the 44 seats of the Labor Party and the 12 seats of Meretz were not enough. Rabin needed a religious party to form a government.

The transition from opposition fighter to cabinet minister is not always easy. It was especially hard for Shula, who was more of a preacher than a politician. Politics – as Bismarck famously remarked – is the art of the possible, and compromise came hard to Shula.

Nonetheless, right at the beginning, when Rabin decided to expel 415 radical Islamic citizens from the country, Shula voted in favor. During the protest against this outrage, my friends and I founded Gush Shalom. Shula later admitted that her support for the expulsion was an “eclipse of the sun”.

But the main trouble was to come. Shula never believed in hiding her opinions. She was totally honest. Perhaps too honest. As Minister of Education she dispensed her opinions freely. Too freely. Every time she said what she thought about some chapter of the Bible and such, the religious coalition partners exploded. The climax came when she announced that in all schools, the theories of Charles Darwin would replace the Biblical creation story. That was just too much. The religious demanded that Rabin remove Shula from the education ministry. Rabin was occupied with the Oslo peace process and needed the religious parties. Shula was removed from the ministry.

AT HER funeral, one of her two sons, in a brilliant eulogy, hinted darkly at the “treachery” which was the hardest moment of her life. All those present understood what he meant, though he did not elaborate. When Rabin dismissed Shula from her beloved job as Education Minister, her party colleagues did not come to her aid. Among themselves they accused her of acting foolishly. She should have known that joining a coalition with the religious parties would demand a price. If she was not ready to shut her mouth, she should not have joined in the first place.

Meretz was the creation of Shula. Party founders are generally strong personalities, with whom it is not easy to cooperate. Shula’s party colleagues conspired against her, and eventually she was replaced as party leader by Yossi Sarid, a sharp-tongued Labor Party politician who had lately joined Meretz. In the next election, Meretz crashed from 12 seats to three. During the last few years, she was rarely in the public eye. I never saw her at demonstrations in the occupied territories, but she lectured incessantly to anyone, anywhere, when invited.

IN ONE of his frequent outbursts of vulgarity, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef of the Shas party said: “When Shulamit Aloni dies, there will be a feast!”

There was no feast this week. Even the Right acknowledges her contribution to Israel. The Meretz party, now with six members in the Knesset, is doing well in the polls.

The sixth chapter of the Song of Songs ends with the call: “Return, return oh Shulamite, return, return!” No chance of that. Not much chance of another Shulamit Aloni, either. They don’t make them like that anymore.

The legacy of Shulamit Aloni, our fearless teacher 

Shula made us aware of civil and human rights, the inequality of women, the plight of the gay community and the darkness of the occupation. Her legacy was great, but she didn't leave behind enough heirs.

Yossi Sarid Jan. 24, 2014       

I have had no teacher in my public life except for Shulamit Aloni - she was my only teacher, our great teacher. Nothing is more painful to me than having my name tied to the story of her resignation from politics, but I won’t set history straight today. Perhaps some other time, perhaps not.

I heard a radio presenter today speaking about “the woman people loved to hate." It’s true, many people hated her, many loved her, and nobody remained indifferent. What can be worse and more insulting to a person − especially a political person − than indifference? "Oh, just another of that ilk - how boring is this place around us, really, one big yawn." But Shula, on the other hand, always provoked, stirred and challenged.

After a death everyone asks about legacy: What mark or message does the deceased leave behind? And then everyone immediately tries to pull that legacy toward them, as if it is a blanket that is too small to cover them all.

Not in Shula’s death. Though we part from her, we cannot part from what she bestowed upon us all, those ideas and duties that are as pertinent now as they have ever been. Who can snatch away that legacy? Who would try to usurp it? Who would dare?

Shula made us aware of civil rights for the first time, and it's her creed that we passed onto the generations that followed. Not only the state has rights, as we were taught, and the state is not a deity, demanding sacrifice and worship. I seriously doubt today's Education Ministry would allow tender souls to be corrupted by her civics books, which have not lost their worth.

Shula also made us aware of human rights. There are some who live among us who aren't citizens, but are human beings nevertheless, with a full claim to inalienable rights. In a time when asylum seekers are high-handedly deported, Shula would surely have had something to ask the deporters: Aren’t you ashamed?

And Shula made us aware of inequality of women. Who but her had even thought of it as a problem? Golda Meir certainly didn’t. She held the highest office in Israel and was content at that. But Shulamit Aloni knew well that there are other women besides her, and that they still suffer egregious deprivation and discrimination.

Shula made us see that gay men and women and transgenders are people, same as everyone. Over 25 years ago she already fought to get them out of the closet of shame, fear and persecution.

Shula made us face the inherent tension between religion and state, between politics and faith. Who didn’t gape askance, or wring hands in a sigh, when hearing her demand to separate them? Yes, protecting the eminence of the state and the honor of religion, it is essential to detach the devout, to sever apart the forces that infect the country with ultra-nationalism and poison religion with zealotry. Leaving the two glued together is a recipe for disaster.

She was one of the first to make us aware of the occupation. That untold region beyond the hills of darkness, in which only a few ever bother to take an interest. The day will come when the state of occupied territories and occupying settlers will consume the state of Israel, which will then cast off the form of democracy and take the shape of apartheid.

Who but Shula could single-handedly start a movement that for decades onward would have an actual impact on the quality of living in Israel? One can picture our political landscape without other, superfluous parties, but not without Meretz, for all its ups and downs. Never letting her convictions be scattered to the wind, Shula has sown them with her spirit in every virgin soil.

And above all, "you've got nothing to fear." And indeed she feared not. What she had to say she said, even when you didn’t want to listen. You may have lost out on her, but Shula won herself integrity and an inimitable image.

In recent years, when we were upset or afraid, we would talk. I would call, she would call – never to gush out personal matters but to talk and feel no better for doing so. So she always urged action − we must do something, we must protest and resist, we must at least get our voice heard; if not we, then who? And if not now, when? Many of my columns in Haaretz were written at her urging and under her inspiration.

Shulamit Aloni left behind a legacy - that much is certain. What's uncertain is whether she left behind enough heirs. And I never forgot the big shoes I filled.

13 February 2014

Israeli Soldiers Torture and Abuse Palestinian Children

Israel’s Occupation Forces Have Learnt Well from the Nazis

Fighting 'terrorism'

I have to confess that, immune as I am to stories of the violence and brutality of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, I found the programme below, made by Australian TV, shocking.  I’ve been on the streets of Derry and Belfast when British soldiers attacked demonstrators but compared to the film below, the Occupation of the North of Ireland was a genteel affair.

Israeli’s have learnt well from the holocaust.  Most Israelis turn their heads away or bury them in the sand, as not knowing is a comfort. But when Israelis put in a uniform, with a few exceptions, they behave like the savages of the SS.  If it were not for the genocide, they would be peas in a pod, and to some in Israel the Nazis are a model of how to conduct an Occupation [see Israeli Judge Ben-Itto 'We must learn from the Nazis']

Perhaps the most shocking revelations concerned the use of electric shock torture on children and a child who had food placed on their head and genitals with an Alsatian dog ordered to eat it.    There was a time in Israel when, because of their use in the concentration camps, that Israeli police were not allowed to use such methods.
Founder of the 'left' Zionist Mapam and Ahdut Ha'avodah, Yitzhak Tabenkin
Daniella Weiss, a settler leader, summed up the settlers claims that the West Bank is their land.  ‘This is Jewish land.  God gave it to the Jewish people’.  The military are there to enforce the settlers' claims.  Weiss may have been working in cahoots with the master butcher himself, Ariel Sharon, but it was the Israeli Labour Party (Mapai) which first established settlements in the West Bank.

As Israel Galili, of the militarist ‘left’ Ahdut Ha'avodah told Haaretz on April 18, 1972:
“Our right in Gaza is exactly like our right in Tel Aviv. We are colonizing Gaza exactly in the same manner in which we colonized Yafa. Those who doubt our right in Gaza should doubt our right in Tel Aviv as well.”  
 Together with Yigal Allon, Rabin and the rest of the war criminals who ran Mapai, they began the occupation regime.  It was one of the founding fathers of ‘left’ Zionism, a co-founder of Mapam and Ahdut Ha'avodah, the party of Poalei Zion, who became the most ardent of the settlers’ supporters.  I refer to Yitzhak Tabenkin, who founded Kibbutz Meuhad.

It is no accident that some of the most important founding fathers of Labour Zionism – Allon, Galilee and Tabenkin – were the ones who determined from the outset that the West Bank would never be given back.  From there it was a simple path to the abuse and torture of children, a practice that should bury for all of time Israel’s claim to be the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East.
Tony Greenstein

Aussie TV dares to show the real occupation

Jonathan Cook,  11 February 2014
Palestinian  child held in choke hold whilst 'trophy' photo is taken
I never thought I would see it. A mainstream TV programme, this one made by Australian channel ABC, that shows the occupation in all its inhuman horror. The 45-minute investigative film concerns the Israeli army’s mistreatment of Palestinian children. Along the way, it provides absolutely devastating evidence that the children’s abuse is not some unfortunate by-product of the occupation but the cornerstone of Israel’s system of control and its related need to destroy the fabric of Palestinian society.

Omar Barghouti has spoken of Israelis’ view of Palestinians as only “relatively human”. Here that profound racism is on full show. There are, of course, concessions to “balance” – in the hope of minimising the backlash from Israel – but they do nothing to dilute the power of the message. This is brave film-making of the highest order. It is an indication of quite how exceptional this film is that it has cornered Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, into expressing her “deep concern“. That’s the same Bishop who last month doubted that the settlements in the West Bank were illegal. - See more at:

Israeli soldiers pose for photos while abusing Palestinian child

 Ali Abunimah 02/09/2014

Israeli forces in the eastern occupied Jerusalem village of al-Eizariya were caught on video on Friday posing for trophy photos as they held a wounded, handcuffed Palestinian child in a stranglehold.
The disturbing video, shot by Rami Alarya was published by the Independent Media Center (IMC), however that publication’s website, which regularly documents Israeli abuses in the village, appeared to be down.

The images in this post are screenshots from Alarya’s video.
جنود اسرائيليين يطلقون النار على طفل و يعتقلونه في العيزرية 7-2-2014

a trophy photo

The International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) which translated IMC’s report provided this description and analysis:

The soldiers assaulted the child during clashes that took place in the [al-Eizariya] town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.
another trophy photo - German soldiers did the same when invading the Soviet Union
One of the soldiers tried to push the cameraman, Alarya, and his colleague, Amin Alawya, away from the scene, and was yelling at them, “Enough, enough…. go away… what do you want…”
Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, Yassin al-Karaki, 13 years of age, with a rubber-coated metal bullet which hit the 13-year old in the leg. After he fell, the soldiers began assaulting and abusing him.

The attack took place after soldiers, who hid in a building near the Annexation Wall in the Qabsa area, ambushed a group of children, and one of the soldiers opened fire on the children.
Several soldiers then attacked and assaulted the wounded child before kidnapping him.
The soldiers took pictures of themselves with the wounded child, and one soldier picked up a Molotov cocktail from the ground, while the child shouted in Hebrew, “it’s not mine, it’s not mine”, and a soldier responded, “it’s yours, it’s Ok … it’s yours”.

One of the soldiers was holding him in a chokehold, and was mocking the child by imitating wrestling moves while other soldiers took pictures, although the child was barely able to breathe.
The soldiers then placed the child in their jeep, while one of them was still filming the incident.

In his book Goliath, The Electronic Intifada contributor Max Blumenthal writes that such so-called “trophy” photos have a long tradition in many military forces, including Israel’s.

Blumenthal recalls a series of such photographs released several years ago by Breaking the Silence, an Israeli group which documents testimonies of Israeli soldiers while protecting their identities:
Among the disturbing shots culled from Facebook pages belonging to young Israelis was a photo of four smiling troops towering over a blindfolded preadolescent Palestinian girl kneeling at the point of their machine guns; a pretty female soldier smiling winsomely beside a blindfolded Palestinian man cuffed to a plastic chair; two soldiers posing triumphantly above a dishevelled corpse lying in the street like a piece of discarded trash; a soldier pumping his rifle in the air directly behind an older Palestinian woman tending to pots on her kitchen stove; a soldier defacing the walls of a home in Gaza by spray-painting a star of David and the phrase, “Be Right Back”; troops in the Gaza Strip playing with and posing beside corpses stripped half nude in acts of post-mortem humiliation; a young soldier mockingly applying makeup from a Palestinian woman’s dresser. The Facebook pages were so replete with documents of humiliation, domination, and violence it seemed that army basic training had been led by Marquis de Sade.

Blumenthal sees these images as documents of a “colonial culture in which Jewish Israeli youth became conditioned to act as sadistic overlords toward their Palestinian neighbors, and of a perpetual conquest that demanded indoctrination” beginning “at an early age” and continuing “perpetually throughout their lives.”

The latest shocking images from occupied Jerusalem are proof that this ugly tradition persists.

3 February 2014

Fizzy drinks win over human rights for celeb Scarlett

Scarlett Johansson Prefers Money to Human Rights

Cartoon from Katie Miranda

Image: Katie Miranda. Scarlett Johansson preferring to be the global ambassador for fizzy drinks confected by Sodastream, a product from an illegal settlement, rather than for the charity Oxfam
.‘SodaStream is at the heart of Israel’s system of occupation’

Cartoon from Katie Miranda and articles from 1) Channel 4 news, 2) Christian Science Monitor – short extract; 3) Electronic Intifada and Notes and links. Some of the many cartoons that have been launched into cyberspace are interspersed throughout.

Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam amid SodaStream row
By Channel 4 news January 30, 2014

Scarlett Johansson quits her role as ambassador for Oxfam after coming under huge criticism for supporting the company SodaStream, that operates in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

The Hollywood actor’s global debut as the face of Israeli company Sodastream will take place on Sunday in a prime time advert during the Super Bowl.

Protest against Sodastream outside Macy’s department store, NY city. Photo by Flickr
But the multi-million dollar deal has caused a huge backlash from pro-Palestinian activists and humanitarian groups, because SodaStream’s largest factory is based in a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

After talks with Oxfam this week, the star of awards season favourite Her has decided to stick with the company and end her seven-year association with the charity.

Her spokesman said in a statement that she and Oxfam had a "fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement". It added that she was "very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."

Settlements by Israelis on the Palestinian West Bank are illegal under international law, and Oxfam and other human rights groups are against any trade with companies based there.

And since the sponsorship deal was announced, the charity has come under huge pressure to drop Johansson as an ambassador. Activists encouraged alternative names for SodaStream flavours using the hashtag #ScarJos, which included Doctor Pepper Spray, Gaza Calorie Count and Palestinian Punch.

A ‘supporter of economic cooperation’

Johansson has pointed out that the company employs both Palestinian and Israeli workers, and affords its employees salaries that are triple the national average. SodaStream, which produces bottles and home soda makers, said it employed the highest number of Palestinians in the region.

Graphic from PSC Facebook

Yonah Lloyd, SodaStream’s president, told the Financial Times: "The boycotters are actually demonstrating a complete lack of humanitarian sensitivity to the thousands of people that benefit from the stable economic opportunity that we provide."

Yonah LLoyd promotes the Sodastream superbowl ad on CNBC ?video=3000144365 6 minutes in for a completely apolitical interview.

The actor said last week that she was a "supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine."

For its part, Oxfam said:

"Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam global ambassador.

"Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support."

The Israeli Jewish settlements on land seized in the 1967 Six Day War are a key point of contention in the US-backed peace talks between Israel and Palestine. US Secretary John Kerry has called them "illegitimate", but Israel has continued to build and develop on land on the West Bank, despite its illegality.

‘SodaStream is at the heart of Israel’s system of occupation’
"The very existence of (Israeli settlements) amounts to a serious violation of international law," the New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It is impossible to ignore the Israeli system of unlawful discrimination, land confiscation, natural resource theft, and forced displacement of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, where SodaStream is located."
The Palestinian BDS National Committee, that supports boycotts and sanctions against Israel, said that Johansson had abandoned her reputation in exchange for money. "Just like the few artists who played Sun City during South African apartheid, Johansson will be remembered for having stood on the wrong side of history," said spokesperson Rafeef Ziadah.

"This controversy has shined a light on the fact that SodaStream is at the heart of Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and apartheid."

Palestinian workers back Scarlett Johansson’s opposition to SodaStream boycott

By Christa Case Bryant, Christian Science Monitor

January 30, 2014

EXTRACT from article which begins with reports from Palestinians who are glad to have jobs at Sodastream because there is so little paid work available in the West Bank despite the PA’s donor income.

One of the workers waiting for the SodaStream bus this morning says he hates the fact that he’s working in an Israeli settlement, and lies to people when they inquire about his work.

"I’m ashamed I’m working there," he says. "I feel this is our land, there should be no [Israeli] factory on this land."

Graphic from PSC Facebook
He feels like a "slave," working 12 hours a day assembling parts – drilling in 12,000 screws a day, he adds.

While Israeli labor laws technically apply in the settlements, labor rights organization Kav LaOved says it is poorly enforced. Inspections, which are considered the essence of labor law enforcement, are reportedly sparse. Abed Dari, the organization’s field coordinator in the Jordan Valley and Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone where SodaStream’s factory is located, estimates that 95 percent of Palestinian employees of Israeli businesses in those areas do not earn the minimum wage of 4,300 shekels ($1,230).

Dari says SodaStream is one of the few companies in Mishor Adumim that does pay minimum wage, but adds that his organization’s worker hotline received a complaint about some 100 workers being fired recently, due to "seasonal" hiring practices. Workers in Azzariah mentioned that some fellow workers had recently been let go, which they attributed to boycott pressure.

As one of Israel’s largest food and beverage exporters, which ships to 45 countries, SodaStream indeed has international reach – and thus is potentially more vulnerable to international opinion. But Yonah Lloyd, president of SodaStream, says the company does not act in response to boycott pressure.

SodaStream "treats us like slaves," says Palestinian factory worker

By Stephanie Westbrook, Electronic Intifada
May 09, 2013

A professionally-produced video recently appeared on YouTube, taking the viewer on a carefully-constructed tour of the production facilities for the Israeli company SodaStream, manufacturer of carbonated drink machines.

The 8.5-minute video focuses on the firm’s factory located in Mishor Adumim, the industrial zone of the illegal Israeli settlement Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, and its Palestinian workers. The underlying message throughout the video is that the company’s settlement factory is a "fantastic sanctuary of co-existence" and, despite being built on stolen Palestinian land, is beneficial to the Palestinian economy and workers.

The video was recently shown to M., a Palestinian employee of SodaStream who has worked on the assembly line at Mishor Adumim for a long time and lives under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. M. spoke to The Electronic Intifada on condition of anonymity.

His immediate reaction to the blissful setting presented in the video was one of shock.


"I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in this video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved," M. said.

The release of the video coincided with the launch of SodaStream boycott campaigns in the US, considered the company’s most important market. Taking advantage of the company’s major marketing offensive in the US, including a $4 million Super Bowl ad, boycott campaigns succeeded in garnering press coverage exposing SodaStream’s complicity with Israeli violations of international law.

M. and his fellow workers were unaware of the boycotts. "They never told us about boycotts at all," he remarked.

Instead the premise for the video presented to the workers was nothing less than a way to maintain their jobs, otherwise at risk due to a lack of orders. M. said that "When they came and told us about the video, they announced that they wanted to market SodaStream globally, with a special presentation to the US, and they wanted to show the work and how it was improving."

M. and his coworkers had been told that the company planned to "let some of the workers go before the end of the year," but a $500-million order from the US had changed things and a "campaign to support the company’s sales" would save their jobs.

The YouTube video is clearly part of SodaStream’s public relations campaign, which lately has focused on the company’s Palestinian workers. In a speech given in early February at an Israel Advocacy Seminar in Johannesburg, Amir Sagie, director of the civil society affairs department for the Israeli foreign ministry, stated, "SodaStream have appointed lobbyists — an initiative that is paying dividends" ("Trends to expect from BDS & how to klap them," MyShetl, 6 February 2013).

According to M., the workers appearing in the video were given instructions on what to say. "I actually saw the company preparation work [for the video]; they were preparing all the workers and telling them what to say and how to say it," he said.

In the video, Sodastream’s chief executive Daniel Birnbaum appears as if he’s a constant presence in the Mishor Adumim factory. M. explained that this is not at all the case.

"I have worked here for a long time, and I have never seen him at the factory. This is the first time I see him [in the video]. They have their offices in Israel, and they do not come here," he said.

By M.’s estimates, SodaStream employs 800-850 workers on the factory floor, 90 percent of whom are Palestinians. The only Jewish Israelis doing "hand work" are "new immigrants, as they call them; olim hadashim or the ‘black Jews’ as they describe them."

Only a tiny fraction of the Palestinians employees hold higher level positions and there are none at all in management. "In all of SodaStream, there are only two foremen who are West Bank Palestinians, and they are supervised by two Israeli Arabs," said M.


When asked if there was discrimination between black and white Jews, M. replied, "Yes, for sure. You will not [find] white Jews wearing yarmulke [a skull cap] doing the hard work or ‘hand work.’ The supervisors who run the factory are mainly Russian and they are managed mainly by the white Jews, and we are ‘Palestinians,’ only workers."

M. also talked of discriminatory hiring practices, explaining that "most Israelis are hired through the company directly," while West Bank Palestinians require "a special security permit to be employed." The settlement factory has an internal security officer who "takes care of applying for the permits from the Israeli authorities."

M. added that Palestinian workers from Jerusalem, along with immigrant workers and African Jews, work through external manpower companies and may be hired after nine months "if they prove to be good workers." Otherwise, he said, "they are let go."

The recent report from the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements notes that a "stringent system of permits and quotas that determines employment in Israel and the settlements lends itself to abuse by contractors and middlemen."

"Not allowed to pray"

The video touts an onsite mosque where SodaStream’s Muslim workers go to pray. M. told a very different story.

"A good example that shocked me was the claims [in the video] about the freedom to practice our prayers," he said. "Those claims are all false. There is a full discrimination against the [Muslim] workers and we are denied our right to practice our religion."

M. noted that the mosque shown in the video "is just the locker room," and that supervisors had "even hidden the carpets from the workers" in an attempt to prevent them from praying.

Restrictions on are especially severe on the assembly line, where most West Bank Palestinians work. M. explained that they are only allowed to pray if prayer times fall "during their lunch break," otherwise "they are not allowed to pray at all."

This is not the first time SodaStream has put its celebration of multiculturalism on promotional display. In 2009, following extensive negative press in Sweden, the workers’ rights organization Kav LaOved reported that SodaStream organized "a party celebrating the factory’s multicultural makeup: Sudanese, Ethiopian, Russian and Palestinian." The group noted that "some of the Palestinian workers, who had not registered for the event, were only allowed to participate for one hour, and then returned to work while others continued to celebrate multiculturalism in their name" ("Multiculturalism at the Soda Club factory," 2 May 2009).

While M. confirmed Palestinian workers are currently paid "three or four times the salary we can get at the Palestinian Authority" — not the four to five times more mentioned in the video — this only came about following workers’ struggles and protests in which many lost their jobs, the intervention of Kav LaOved and negative publicity in Europe, as documented by the group Who Profits from the Occupation? in a report on SodaStream ("SodaStream: A case study for corporate activity in illegal Israeli settlements," January 2011 [PDF]).

"From work to bed"

However, the same job insecurity and harsh working conditions reported by Who Profits remain. M. described the working week at the factory as "from work to bed," leaving little free time for anything else. Employees work on a "four-two" system, meaning that they work for four days, 12 hours per day, with two days off — totaling 60 hours of work in a seven-day period.

According to the Israeli Hours of Work and Rest Law, a working day "shall not exceed eight working hours" and shift workers "shall not be employed for more than one hour of overtime per day, and that the average for three weeks shall not exceed 45 working hours per week."

The SodaStream factory has two shifts, day and night, and M. explained that workers change shifts every four days with "no day that you leave early."

Requests to leave early are rarely approved. These working conditions apply to both men and women. M. explained that women workers also work night shifts and 12-hour shifts.

He also noted that "there is no extra pay for overtime or night shifts," in violation of the Hours of Work and Rest Law.

Making the work day or night even longer, Palestinian workers must allow two additional hours for transportation to and from the Israeli settlement, where they are not allowed to live. "They pick us up at six in the morning or the evening, and we arrive home at least an hour after work. Around 14 hours you are away from home, and there is no time to see our families," M. explained.

One big family?

SodaStream’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum has referred to the factory workers as one big family. M. disputed this portrayal, and explained some of the job insecurities Palestinian workers face: "They treat us like slaves. This has happened many times on the assembly line: when a worker is sick and wants to take sick leave, the supervisor will fire him on the second day. They will not even give him warning or send him to human resources, they will immediately fire him."

Birnbaum also claims in the video that SodaStream received no government incentives for its settlement factory. However, all three of the company’s own annual reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission in the US, including the report for 2012, clearly stated that transfer of their production facilities "to a location outside of the disputed territories" may "limit certain tax benefits" ("United States securities and exchange commission, SodaStream International Ltd.").

M. noted that some production is currently being shifted to a new factory at Alon Tavor in the Galilee, within present-day Israel. "Now they have a new assembly department inside Israel, and [the factory] is getting less work. They are forcing the workers to work less, sometimes only for two or three days a week only, which means less salary." Those unhappy with just 10 to 12 work days per month "are ‘free to go,’" he added.

The rumors at the Mishor Adumim factory are that it will soon close, with all production moving inside Israel. Despite the conditions, M. and others "are hoping that the workers will be able to move and continue working there too." As M. explained, "All of the workers have no other choice but to work in the settlement factory; we want to feed our children and there are no work opportunities in the Palestinian Authority."

Cover for illegality

A recently-published update from Who Profits on SodaStream’s facilities showed that the Alon Tavor site serves as cover for the company’s illegal settlement factory. Who Profits cites an article from the Israeli business publication Globes, in which Birnbaum claimed products sold in countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and France are manufactured at Alon Tavor due to "the sensitivity in these countries to Israeli products manufactured beyond the green line."

However, examining details on production facilities listed in SodaStream’s own annual report for 2012, WhoProfits demonstrated that it would not possible for a complete SodaStream machine to be produced at Alon Tavor.

The company has also won a 25-million-shekel ($7 million) government grant for construction of a new plant in the Idan Industrial Zone in the Negev (Naqab), capable of housing all of the company’s production under one roof ("SodaStream wins NIS 25 m grant for Negev plant," Globes, 4 April 2013).

Birnbaum recently threatened to move production to another continent if Israeli government subsidies, such as grants and tax breaks, are reduced. According to SodaStream’s 2012 annual report, its effective tax rate was 1.7 percent for 2012, and 10.9 percent for 2011. The corporate tax rate in Israel is 25 percent ("SodaStream CEO: More Israel investment depends on incentives," Globes, 24 April 2013).

While Birnbaum, beholden to his Nasdaq investors, concentrates on the bottom line, his settlement factory is part of a system described in the United Nations Human Rights Council report on settlements as exerting "a heavy toll on the rights of the Palestinians."

This systematic denial of basic rights outlined in that report creates the conditions that force Palestinians to turn to settlement companies for job opportunities. The report maintains that "the inability for the Palestinian economy to expand and offer opportunities, high unemployment rates and falling wages in the Palestinian labor market, inflation and increasing poverty are factors that drive Palestinians to seek employment in the settlements and in Israel."

In an email to The Electronic Intifada, a spokesperson for Who Profits stated that Israeli settlement companies exploit Palestinian laborers while claiming that the work benefits them. "A business that operates unlawfully cannot demand legitimacy on behalf of the workers and at their expense," the spokesperson said. Who Profits added that in other cases of exploitative employment, "civil society worldwide rejected employers as legitimate representatives of their workers" and maintained instead that "major corporations and colonial powers be held accountable for their actions."

In 1996, Sodastream made a decision to locate its production facilities in an area under military occupation and has maintained them there ever since. When confronted with this clear violation of international law, the company chose not to address it but rather sought to use its Palestinian workers to deflect attention away from its role in maintaining Israel’s unjust colonial system.

What we can do as people of conscience genuinely concerned for Palestinian workers, is to step up boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against companies like SodaStream, to ensure we can soon celebrate true multiculturalism, with guarantees of equal rights for all.

Stephanie Westbrook is a US citizen based in Rome, Italy. Her articles have been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch, The Electronic Intifada, In These Times and Z Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @stephinrome.

Next Protest – Sat 1st February, 12-2pm outside John Lewis, Oxford St. London (nearest tube Oxford Street)

Join the regular protest to alert shoppers that John Lewis is selling Sodastream products which are produced in an illegal Israeli settlement.

Letter to Oxfam from a long-standing supporter

January 28, 2014

 For further information and references please visit

Boycott Sodastream – Fortnightly Protests in London

NGOs campaign against house demolitions Oxfam is one of the 36 NGOs/aid groups to join in calling for an end to Israeli house demolitions, December 2013