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Protesters ask Zabar's to stop selling SodaStream, Israeli settlement product

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The NYC Coalition Against SodaStream protested for two hours outside of Zabar's on Tuesday afternoon, calling on the store to stop selling the carbonation device produced on occupied Palestinian territory.

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The protest was organized by the NYC Coalition Against SodaStream, which included Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, the New York City chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews Say No! and Park Slope Food Co-op Members for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Roughly 70 to 80 people stopped to see the protest.

Protesters carried posters with slogans such as "Boycott SodaStream," "Burst the Bubble — Boycott SodaStream," "Don't Stream Soda on Stolen Land." They also expressed their demands in the form of songs and circulated a petition calling on Zabar's to stop selling SodaStream.

Although the protest was the coalition's first full-fledged protest, it is not their first time protesting outside Zabar's. On April 6 and on April 12, the coalition flyered outside Zabar’s, handing out postcards and circulating its petition. And back in December, the coalition protested against Target.

The NYC Coalition Against SodaStream is part of a global campaign to boycott SodaStream, a home carbonation device manufacturer sold in stores in New York City and throughout the world, according to Adalah-NY’s official website. SodaStream’s primary factory is in Mishor Adumim, the industrial area of Israeli settlement Ma’ale Adumim.

A national protest against SodaStream started because the company is currently operating on occupied Palestinian territory. The coalition decided to create a New York-based version of the national campaign, said Riham Barghouti, a member of Adalah-NY. They focused on Zabar's because it is a local community store, Barghouti explained.

"We felt like they would be maybe more responsive in joining us, in not selling settlement products," she said. "Unfortunately, after reaching out to them a couple of times, they've totally ignored us, refused to sit down with us and that's when we started flyering about a month ago."

Their petition, which was distributed both in person at various protests and online, has already garnered more than 1,000 signatures. The coalition is only a few months old, but there are many groups throughout the city that are working to address the same issue, said Naomi Brussel, a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op Members for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

"This is an international protest," Brussel said. "This is an international movement. There are people all over the world that are participating in it. The process of bringing those groups together is a little complicated just because people have their own agendas sometimes."

On April 16, Carole Zabar, whose family owns Zabar’s, commented on a Facebook post by Adalah-NY advertising Tuesday’s protest.

“It would be nice if you were equal opportunity boycotters but I guess that wouldn't get you the publicity you so desperately crave,” Zabar wrote.

Adalah-NY responded to the post, alleging that the organization reached out privately to her husband about SodaStream being produced in an illegal settlement before holding any protests at Zabar’s. Her husband, the organization said, declined to meet with them.

“When asked why, your husband said, ‘I didn’t think you were worth it,’” the organization claimed. “What we actually crave is equal opportunity for all! Let’s get together and talk about why we are asking Zabar’s to stop selling SodaStream.”

In January, actress Scarlett Johansson stepped down from her role as an ambassador for Oxfam International after participating in a television commercial for SodaStream. The organization has been vocal about its opposition to Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory.