Following two years of regular street protests by pro-Palestine campaigners outside the EcoStream store in central Brighton, the shop has announced that it has ceased trading.
Campaigners have held regular demonstrations outside the store since it opened in the summer of 2012. The protests have raised awareness about the role of the shop’s parent company SodaStream in Israel’s programme of ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territory. SodaStream’s main factory is located on an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, where Palestinian villages have been destroyed and the population removed to make room for Israeli colonists and businesses. The SodaStream company enjoys numerous financial incentives from the Israeli government to operate there in order to consolidate the illegal occupation of Palestine.
The people of Brighton and Hove have been asked to boycott the EcoStream shop to show their disapproval of Israel’s illegal settlements and their violations of human rights, and to put pressure on the Israeli government to comply with international law. The people of Brighton & Hove have responded by refusing to buy into the shop’s alleged ‘green’ image. The shop’s profits declined steadily over the two years of the protests. Today’s announcement of the shop’s closure is the result.
The regular protests outside the EcoStream store in Western Road have attracted huge support from local residents and from human rights campaigners all over the country and internationally. The campaign has featured regularly in the local, national and international media – including coverage in the Times and the Guardian. The campaign is now a national one, with stockists of SodaStream products being targeted for protests in local areas across the UK.
Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign today issued the following statement:
‘This campaign has taken the message about human rights abuses in occupied Palestine to the people of Brighton, and their response has been fantastic. They have made it clear that they do not want businesses from illegal Israeli settlements trading in their town. The closure of SodaStream’s so-called flagship UK store in Brighton is just one step in a campaign to send a clear message to the Israeli government and the international community that, at the grassroots level, people of conscience are taking action to force Israel to comply with international law and to bring about justice for the Palestinian people. We give notice to the other stockists of SodaStream products in the city that we will continue to take the message about SodaStream to the people of Brighton on behalf of the Palestinian people. Congratulations to the people of Brighton and Hove, who can tell the difference between ethical and unethical.’
These protests are part of a wider international movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), following a call in 2005 by over 130 civil society organisations in Palestine (http://www.bdsmovement.net/). The BDS Call urges a boycott of all Israeli companies until Israel complies with international humanitarian law, recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, the rights of return of refugees and ends the siege of Gaza and the occupation of all lands occupied in 1967. The EcoStream protest has focused specifically on the Israeli programme of illegal settlement expansion, and the presence in the store of products manufactured on a key illegal settlement in the West Bank.