Challenges We Have Faced: Say No to SodaStream and Say Yes! To Human Rights
Taking on any particular action around Israel/Palestine is a challenge, especially when it centres on an Israeli-company producing their goods in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and then labelling them as Made in Israel.
Since Larry and I began this campaign over a year ago, much has happened. One of the things I realized pretty quickly is that this is not just like any other human rights issue; mention the word Palestine in the wrong setting and you may receive outright hostility.
I can recall two examples for you, both occurred in my workplace, with two people I thought were progressive. In telling both these individuals about our campaign, one actually said that he disagreed with the United Church of Canada’s recent resolution to boycott settlement goods (he is a church member) and he went on to say that he even questioned whether the West Bank was actually occupied territory!
The second reaction I received was more blatant, someone whom I considered a friend actually asked me outright why I was spending time on a project like Say No to SodaStream and Say Yes! To Human Rights! He then went on to ask why I was also not protesting goods made in China.
The reason of course is because our campaign is about Occupation Profiteers like SodaStream, whose Canadian President Marta Mikita-Wilson lives right here in Winnipeg. This makes our campaign especially local. Moreover, our campaign is not about China, and there are also countless activists who protest against China every day and that’s admirable. I would never question their goals or commitments. On that same note, why should anyone question mine? Unfortunately this is still an issue that many people are unaware of, yet Palestine represents the longest running refugee crisis in the world. My point is that our protest against Occupation industries should be just as valid and worthy as a protest against Chinese goods. In the end I should have asked him what he was engaged in right now to make a difference, but I didn’t get a chance.
So these are a couple of obstacles we have faced. Zionism is prevalent in Winnipeg and it seems one cannot speak on this issue without fear of hostility. On that point, I recently learned of a retired local high school teacher who at one point when he was still teaching approached his school about teaching a course on the Nakba and Occupation. He was told under no certain terms that he would never be able to teach such a course here. Complete and utter discrimination and denial of free speech. I was shocked.
Finally, in talking with people I have come across those who just completely unaware of the issue and even the geography. For example, I mentioned to a woman that I know that I had attended a recent talk and slide show from someone who had just returned from Hebron. The person I was relating the story to had no idea where Hebron even was.
On that note thank you to all the readers of this blog for your time and interest this past year. I am thrilled that we have no reached 300 readers and our new blog SodaStream Health Myth is also taking off. Please take a look if you haven’t yet.
As well, if you haven’t done so, PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION TODAY. Clearly if you are reading this blog you are interested in human rights and we need your support. Search Say No to SodaStream and Say Yes! To Human Rights in Google or on the gopetition.com website and show your support today.
Thank you again