BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

January 30th saw the appearance of an article titled “Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam role over SodaStream row” on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages. 

SodaStream art

The article opens:

“Actress Scarlett Johansson has quit as an ambassador for Oxfam amid a row over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the occupied West Bank.

A spokesman for the actress said she had a “fundamental difference of opinion” with the humanitarian group.

She will remain a brand ambassador for SodaStream, which has a factory in the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.”

Actually, the SodaStream factory is located to the east of Ma’ale Adumim in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park and in an area which, under any reasonable scenario of a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO, will remain under Israeli control. Notably, the BBC – as usual – does not bother to inform audiences of that aspect of the story. 

Mishor Adumim

The report continues:

“Oxfam opposes trade from settlements, considered illegal under international law – something Israel disputes.

About 500,000 Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

As usual, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that contrasting legal opinions also exist outside Israel and the BBC presents selected views as indisputable fact. 

At no point in this report is any attempt made to inform readers of the context of Oxfam’s record of politically motivated campaigning against Israel. Likewise, at no point is any attempt made to explain to audiences that Oxfam’s stance is the result of its alignment with the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and that the aim of that movement is the dismantling of Israel as the Jewish state through a campaign of delegitimisation.

“With pressure imposed by the international community through a BDS campaign a la anti-Apartheid campaign which brought Apartheid South Africa to an end, we believe that Israel itself can be transformed into a secular democratic state after the return of 6 million Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a state for ALL of its citizens…therefore, we think that one of the major tools of the struggle towards a secular democratic state is BDS.” Haider Eid, 2009

“So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential… the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.” Ahmed Moor, 2010

“BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.” Ronnie Kasrils, 2009

The BBC’s report quotes from a statement issued by Oxfam:

“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.”

Despite the obviously downright bizarre nature of that statement, the BBC makes no attempt to clarify to readers that the 500 or so Palestinians working at SodaStream enjoy the same rates of pay, benefits and rights as their Israeli colleagues or that unemployment in the PA controlled areas stood at 19.1% in the third quarter of 2013 according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and that employees of SodaStream  earn several times the average wage of 88 shekels a day in PA controlled areas.

Towards the end of the report, the BBC once again stoops to quoting second-hand unverified hearsay from an unnamed source.

“However, away from the factory, Reuters quoted one unnamed Palestinian employee as saying “there’s a lot of racism” at work.

“Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can’t ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced,” he added.”

In the film below, however, are some named SodaStream employees talking about their experiences and here readers can watch an interview with the factory’s manager and hear a conversation with production manager Mohamed Barhum conducted by our colleague Adam Levick of CiF Watch last year.

It takes about half an hour even in bad traffic to drive from Jerusalem to Mishor Adumim. Surely someone from the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau could have popped down there to do some proper reporting instead of BBC News resorting once again to recycling unverified quotes from second-hand sources.

Had that been done, BBC journalists would have discovered that SodaStream is far from the only firm employing Palestinians at that industrial park and that some of the businesses operating in the Mishor Adumim complex are Arab-owned. They could then have approached Oxfam for a statement on whether those companies too are deemed worthy of boycott simply because of their physical location.

Such a statement might well have contributed to BBC audiences’ understanding of the real roots of Oxfam’s campaign and the true nature of the BDS movement. Unfortunately for BBC audiences however, it seems that once again the corporation is more interested in the amplification of a specific unquestioned narrative than in providing them with a range of information which will allow them to form their own views on the subject.

This report joins many others in raising the very obvious question of why the BBC’s funding public should be obliged to pay to read second-hand recycled quotes from sources they could have accessed for free themselves. It also raises an additional issue: sources such as Reuters (quoted in this article), AP and AFP (frequently quoted in other reports) are of course not bound by the same editorial standards as the BBC. That fact prompts the question of whether any sort of mechanism exists to ensure that information sourced by the BBC from other media outlets is checked for accuracy and impartiality before it is recycled to BBC audiences.



45 comments on “BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

  1. Oh dead god, this page is seriously sloppy journalism – do you have no credibility? No journalistic integrity? And I’m talking about, not the bbc!! What linguistic sophistry!

    Did you really say ‘reasonable scenario’ (i.e ‘Your Opinion’) of the borders? What about the (not your opinion, but fact) LEGALLY RECOGNISED borders by the UN ,and therefore the international community (over 187 other countries!!), that 1967 ‘green line’?

    The PLO have a right and duty as the representative of the Palestinians to get the borders of Palestine back to 1967, it’s their land. It’s not up for debate by bbcwatch, it’s recognised international law – the borders are fixed. Illegally acquiring land in a defensive war, and constant construction of settlements in The Occupied Territories is against international law. And so is building a factory, if it is owned by Israeli companies. Hand it over to Palestinian management, SodaStream, if you don’t want to be boycotted (the EU recognise this, sorry.)

    Just let the region live in peace, respect the borders, return the land and build bridges with your neighbours – you’ve 4.5 million Palestinians living next door to you, think of the trade! Think of the exchange of culture! Think of all the European counties and its people that would stop looking at the Israeli regime and thinking it’s an Apartheid State (Jewish AND Democratic, only if you’re Jewish – wtf? The world can see the emperor has no clothes! duh!)

    The writers are clearly passionate about their cause, except it’s a wrong cause. Israel has no right to others land, so leave your territorial ambitions at home, inside the green line.

    • You’re a bit ill-informed; the land issue was resolved long ago. Clinton proposed land swaps over a decade ago; the Palestinians agreed both at Geneva and at Taba; and Abbas himself agreed about 2008.

      You’re also a hypocrite; you say you think Israel should “build bridges” but fail to notice the SodaStream factory is providing jobs to hundreds of Palestinians – a far better bridge than anything you anti-Semites have ever proposed.

    • “Hand it over to Palestinian management…”

      You saw what happened when Israel handed over its hi-tech farms in Gaza to “Palestinian management”?

    • 1967 are not gree line but cease fire line. There was no Palestinian state . israel took Judea and Samaria from JOrdan.
      Hand Soda Strea, to the Paletsinians? lol you must be joking . No ,better remove it to the Gallile or Negev and there will be more work for the Israelis. Palestinian? you don;t care about them why should we.Trade? culture? LOL with the arab spring around when all arab states are breaking up?

      • It’s the moral equivalent of asking Jews in a concentration camp if they’d like to work in a coffee shop, as it gives them ‘meaningful jobs’.

        It’s a sick thought, and one that should rightly make all companies LEAVE the Illegally Occupied Territories. – it’s illegal , it’s not your land, so stop offering them sh*ty jobs and pretending it’s a ‘bridge to peace’.

        it’s not,it’s a low paid job in a factory that shouldn’t be there. Open up their borders and trade will flow – so do that if you really cared.

        • I won;t refer to your sickening comparison to the concentration camps .
          The area where this plant is located is area C according to Oslo until final negotiation.
          Open up their borders and trade will flow you mean the trade of suicde bobming again?

          • sickening, but a fair comparison – you might not like it, but it’s fair.

            these people are prisoners in their own land – the situation on the ground there is appalling. (I’ve been , I know it well.)

            This is because Israel is hell bent on annexing land is has no legal or moral title to – build your security wall where you like, on your own land. not on the land of others. Give people their sea-border back, unrestricted trade and the chance to rid themselves of a corrupt regime that Israel props up to give itself a puppet-partner for peace, for theatrical purposes only.

            The border is set – this is illegally occupied land, get off it, respect international law and you’ll have peace.

            Otherwise you’ll have 4.5 million people who will, one day, like it or not (and I don’t) overrun Israel and destroy it. And I don’t want that. Iran will get the bomb (sadly) soon enough and then Israel will be in a right pickle – remove the Palestinian issue from the table and Iran can be managed better.

            it’s for everyone’s benefit. and it’s morally right.

          • Fair comparison? between people who were systemticly killed in the gas chembers as well as other means and the Paletsinian who give $15 million to released prisoners who were convicted for killing Israelis . Who get million of dollars from the world and prefer to spend it on weapons instead of taking care of their people.
            Funny when today egypt is the one blocking any help to Gaza destroying all tunnels vownin to destroy Hamas.
            own land? it was never their land not according to internatinal law you like so much. there was never a Palestinian state .

            ‘A trust’ – as in Article 80 of the UN Charter – does not end because the trustee dies … the Jewish right of settlement in the whole of western Palestine – the area west of the Jordan – survived the British withdrawal in 1948. … They are parts of the mandate territory, now legally occupied by Israel with the consent of the Security Council.”
            No border but cease fire line due to arab demand.
            4.5 people overrun Israel and destroyed it? they tried that for more than 64 years when we were only 600,000 and didn;t succeed

            Palestinian issue is not an issue in the arab world the arab spring showed us that. They couldn;t care less what is happaning to the Paletsinian unless they can be used against Israel . Many are telling them to fight their own war because arabs have enough to worry about.

    • “In the film below, however, are some named SodaStream employees talking about their experiences.”

      Yeah. As if these workers were going to complain in front of a crew hired by their boss! Hadar Sela is really naive.

    • “It also raises an additional issue: sources such as Reuters (quoted in this article), AP and AFP (frequently quoted in other reports) are of course not bound by the same editorial standards as the BBC.”

      Wow wow wow… All three wire news agencies are bound by the very same editorial standards as the BBC and all other top-notch media. They maintain the highest standards in journalism., which is why so many top notch media rely on them. That BBCWatch would not be aware of he his is astounding.

      • Precisely -this page is spewing verbal sewage, unapologetic in their pro-Zionist hate speak, biased and without any integrity.

        BBCwatch people are not journalists, but deluded quacks.

        nuff said.

        • LOL – Again this moron ends up supporting this site and revealing himself without realising it.
          The verbal sewage being spewed throughout this page is his, and the pro-Zionist hate speak without integrity is his too. He hates pro-Zionists.

          A seriously twisted individual.

          • I do indeed think Pro-Zionist are morally bankrupt! As they have no place in society, mine or Palestine’s. Promoting ethnic cleansing, population transfer and apartheid is wrong, ergo Zionism is evil.

            Supporting this site? Mmm not sure how you get that. the truth is the traffic that has come through to the site is staggering, so I think you’re supporting ours! thanks!

            Any political academic heavyweights that support Zionism? any? any Norman Finkelsteins on your side of the debate? Care to list them? for the readers, I mean 😉

            Or just bored bloggers?

  2. Economic cooperation would be the quickest route to peace. Unfortunately peace is the last thing much of the Arab world and the BDS bullshitters want

  3. ‘Land Issue was resolved long ago’: you’re right, it’s the UN resolution 242 1967 green line, that’s international law. It’s recognised as such. No subsequent meeting has changed this fact of international law , even if it was ‘proposed’ it was never accepted. FACT.

    The West Bank, referred to by its internationally recognised name, did not need to belong to a ‘station state’ to be legally the land property of the Palestinian people, the native inhabitants for many many hundreds of years. Israel claim to the land is not based on anything in international law and is recognised as such. FACT

    Israel is an Occupying Power with responsibilities to the people it has placed under occupation, again, all according to international law. Why you lot are so dead set on ignoring this says more about you, that the Palestinians.

    And no, the Palestinians are fully behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and do not want Israeli companies on their land – it’s illegally occupied and is there’s to do with as they wish.

    Zionists are colonialist and know this deep down – you’ll all afraid of facing the facts? Why? Because you have no claim to the land, that’s why. It is neither legally, morally, or divinely yours.

    So do the decent thing and quote me some legal scholarly facts. I dare you. I’ll show you where you’re wrong, so I know you won’t challenge me – because you can’t.

    So you resort to silly name calling, to distract from law, because on the law, you have no standing……

      • Oh Bio, you confuse him with too many facts that contradict his world view..
        I predict his response will be how the Jews control the media, especially the Guardian and Electronic Intifada.

        • A toast I often use when drinking with friends is “Confusion to our enemies!”. 😉

          The response could well be that since Abbas was elected ten years ago for a four year period as president of the “Palestinian Authority” he now has no mandate and doesn’t legitimately represent the “Palestinians”… but that is probably to close to the truth for our Jew hating “friend” to take on board.

          • Cheers Mate 🙂
            The only problem with the toast is that our enemies are already confused, which is why they are our enemies, as our ‘friend’ clearly demonstrates.

          • Clarity is what’s needed, not confusion. And that’s the problem with people’s attitude – they’re not ‘enemies’ , they’re 4.5 million families, women and children! What idiot would call them enemies?

          • and no, Abbas has no mandate to govern: so if Israel really is a democracy, why negotiate with a non-viable representative if he isn’t precisely that? What sort of lasting peace will that bring?

          • “and no, Abbas has no mandate to govern: so if Israel really is a democracy, why negotiate with a non-viable representative if he isn’t precisely that? What sort of lasting peace will that bring?”

            Becasue the American as allways prefer to ignore it. They pressured for the talks the same way they pressured for the election which resulted in the Hamas winning. they have no understanding of the area.

  4. I’ve checked out Myths and Facts, and it’s only 50% what it claims it is: all myths and no facts!

    Facts are not what one ‘imagines’, or ‘hopes’ are true, but what one can ‘prove’ to be true, through evidence, research and sources. Not a single person on here can point to anything FACTUAL that disproves what I say: they spend their time at home writing fantasy-blogs that then reference each other! That not quoting authoritative sources, is it?

    I’ve no ‘vested interest’ in seeing Israel harmed – but then why should that mean that Palestine is harmed instead? It’s not a zero-sum gain. You have a state, they have a state, on the ’67 borders, as the UN (but not Israel, the USA and Micronesia, mega-lol!) recognize.

    Why try and pretend that 4.5 million Palestinians don’t have human rights and the right to self determination? Why do it? After all the Jews suffered, to pretend that other people can’t suffer, or that your rights ‘trump’ those of others is just ironically sick.

    I don’t attack anyone ‘ad–homonym’ and I show evidence. You lot in general offend people, tell them they ‘cant see facts (without showing ANY) and then wonder why people don’t take you seriously! You’re all feel so ‘angry’ and ‘unloved’ -and I feel sorry for you. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Respect the will of the international community, respect international law, and stop collectively punishing 4.5 million Palestinians, because they never harmed you before you move in to their backyard.

    It’s not hard to see that, is it?

    • Even 242 don;t speak of the 67 borders.
      respect international law? how about internatinal community do that first and indeed respect international law. Respect the Leage of nation resolution which is still valid according to internarional law.
      collective punishment? you mean stopping them from shooting rockets or simply bombing us away?
      Their backyard? what is that ?the paletsinian state that never was.

      • League of Nations has been superseded by a supranational body that has voted: Israel is in breach of international law.

        The ’67 borders are Palestine (and Syria too – care to explain why the Golan Heights haven’t been returned? Care to how explain why the USA bitch-slapped the Israelis out the the Sinai Peninsula ?)

        Israel is on self destruct and with ‘scholars’ like you at its defence, no wonder!

        • Leage of Nation has been superseded but not its resolution according to article 80 of the UN charter.
          “‘A trust’ – as in Article 80 of the UN Charter – does not end because the trustee dies … the Jewish right of settlement in the whole of western Palestine – the area west of the Jordan – survived the British withdrawal in 1948. … They are parts of the mandate territory, now legally occupied by Israel with the consent of the Security Council.
          Golan Height return to who Assad? the syrian rebles?. Israel chose to get out of Sanai for a peace with egypt the same way it got out of areas which were given back to Jordan for peace as well.
          Self destruct? seems it is the arabs who are on self destruct with their nice arab spring tearing up all the countries which were created after WW1 in the same place and by the same body who recognize Jewish history connection to Palestine (the area) and their right to build their national home there.

  5. You know if you want to attempt being droll you had better make sure you your argument is sound, otherwise it shows a poor attempt at humour is equal to your ‘grasp of facts’.
    Facts are not what one ‘imagines’, or ‘hopes’ are true, but what one can ‘prove’ to be true, through evidence, research and sources

    Did you bother to see the SOURCES who explain just what was intended with resolution 242 are? Do you think that the people responsible for it might know something?
    But you understand now why I could write before your reply though I doubt you will let facts get in the way of what you want to believe
    Now you will have to accept when I call you an idiot as not a slur, but an accurate description of you based on your comment.

    As for Why try and pretend that 4.5 million Palestinians don’t have human rights and the right to self determination?
    They do – but only once they accept the same for Israel, otherwise it’s one sided.
    Perhaps you can tell us what you know the Palestinians have offered ANYTIME that allows for the continuation of Israel as a Jewish state with a safe and secure border.

    We’re all ears! But I’ll tell you now – come back with anything bigoted, as I suspect you will, and done so,far, and I won’t bother to reply – you will have wasted enough of my time.

  6. First point: “safe and secure border” wording is in no UN resolution – stop trying to slip things in that are not in the original text – a typical Israeli trick that one.

    The requirements in resolution 242 are clear, a return to the ’67 borders for Egypt, Syria and Palestine. (the US forced you to give the Egyptian border back, you lost the desert that was never rightfully yours). The same needs to be done for Syria (Golan heights are not yours) and Palestine.

    2nd: Sources? There aren’t any! It’s a blog written by an guy who thinks he’s right, but has no legal background! And nor do the sources! Wishing it true, doesn’t make it true. SHOW ME SOURCES!

    3rd: And you talk nonsense: ‘once they accept…..BS!’ – they have no legal requirement to accept anything Israel #decides they ‘must have’# under international law. International law is all they must recognize. And they do that well, unlike Israel. Simple, eh?

    Again, you, and many other Israeli’s fail every time to remember that there does not exist in international law the ‘duty to recognize’, nor ‘right’ to BE to recognized by, any state, be it Israel, Iceland or Malta. States CHOOSE to recognise, but they do not have to to be part of the UN. Israeli’s preoccupation with the forcing the Palestinians to ‘recognize’ they’re ‘existence’ is a nonsense argument, born of fear and cowardice. (and not grounded in international law, I repeat again!). There is no requirement that an occupied people recognise there occupier/oppresser. Why should there be? Should the Polish have recognised and accept the Nazi’s? No, I think not. Resistance was justified and a ‘good thing’, for everyone. Same for Palestinians.

    And Democracy + Jewish state = Democracy BUT ONLY if you allow non-Jews the same rights, in law and in practice, as Jews. Israel does not, so it’s not a real democracy. You think esteemed Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu is making it up? Really?

    Who on earth are you compared to Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu!? You know more about Apartheid than he does? Really? Anyone reading this knows you don’t. And so do I.

    Get back to the Green Line, respect international law, and live in peace. 4.5 million Palestinians are growing in number EVERY day. You won’t last forever if you don’t make peace, so why not try recognising others rights?

  7. Stupid bigoted prick – upholding safe and secure borders is a requirement for any people that want to live in peace. Perhaps your mate Tutu will explain it to you.

    I’ll leave it to anybody reading the webpage I linked to see the sources for themselves.

    I’ll leave you with piece, and to refute it you’ll have to show just where Palestine is included in 242
    But former U.S. Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, the American Ambassador to the UN who played a key role in the ultimate language adopted, pointed out:

    “A notable omission in 242 is any reference to Palestinians, a Palestinian state on the West Bank or the PLO. The resolution addresses the objective of ‘achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.’ This language presumably refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of the several wars.”

    The fact that you are so stupid and such a foul twisted bigoted human being terminates our further exchange.

  8. oh no! sulking? that’s mature 😉 Mr Tutu thinks that you’re a top bloke too! (btw, he does know more than you ever will – Apartheid is Apartheid! just in case you wondered.)

    You know you’re wrong, UN Resolution 242 and international law show us that. There is no need to name anyone by name, as the Palestinian people have been there for generations. Literally, generations. Not a poxy ’29’ years, as of 1967. That doesn’t even compare! (and to think, you’d have been better of in Oz, or South America had the world decided it)

    And pleeaaaase! no! no! No, don’t leave it to us to play ‘hunt the source’: why don’t you show us! (hint for anyone playing, there aren’t any sources!)

    Lots of nasty words from you, and not one fact or source.

    sad times 😦

    • Mr TUtu? You need say no more .
      Bishop Desmond Tutu is no mere anti-Zionist (though Martin Luther King long ago recognized that anti- Zionism often serves as a cover for deeper anti-Jewish bigotry). He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the “Jewish”–not Israeli–“lobby” as too “powerful” and “scar[y].” He has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish “arrogance”, “power” and money. He has characterized Jews a “peculiar people,” and has accused “the Jews” of causing many of the world’s problems. He once even accused the Jewish state of acting in an “unChristian” way.

  9. And TeddyBear: your “Forum”!? Talk about a meat-swinging club for lonely old men!

    Not a fact in sight! Just lots of ‘fluffy’ anecdotal stories that are probably made up! Woo!! Maybe you SHOULD work for the BBC with skills like that! lol!

  10. You’re even too stupid to understand what you wrote, but end up confirming what we all know to be true:
    Not a fact in sight! Just lots of ‘fluffy’ anecdotal stories that are probably made up! Woo!! Maybe you SHOULD work for the BBC with skills like that! lol!

    Yup – that’s the BBC allright!

  11. No sources?

    Surprised? not me, there arent any to quote.

    Not even one!

  12. Teddybonce: did you really make your own forum so you can stop other people having the last word? My goodness, your strength and clarity of argument must be overwhelming if you’re the only poster and site admin!

    Bit sad?

  13. BDS is an important tool to use when a country like Israel regularly thumbs its nose at international law and norms , yet continues to be rewarded by the EU and USA , with aid and preferential trade agreements . If Governments refuse to act then ordinary citizens and institutions can show in a non-violent way that continuing injustices will have consequences . Secondly and most importantly BDS is not a unilateral decision from outside activists . It is response to a call made in 2005 , when over 170 organisations fully representative of Palestinian Civil Society called upon international organisations and people of conscience all over the world – ” to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era until Israel complies with international law ” .
    There are those who dismissed BDS as an irrelevance , but already senior Israeli businessmen have written to Netanyahu expressing serious concerns for the Israeli economy should BDS gain momentum . It is interesting even Kerry is realising the dangers to Israel should it not make a fundamental change to it’s political intransigence . The reality is that the that the USA as Israel’s premier donor have the economic power for serious leverage , but can not or will not due to the constraints of a pro-Israeli Senate and Congress .
    So it’s down to ordinary citizens and non-Governmental institutions to make sure that justice and international law prevail . Already as can be seen BDS is in the public arena and it won’t go away despite distortion , obfuscation and the
    ‘ bunker mentality ‘ adopted by some .

    • BDS the one that call for the return of all refugees to Israel knowing full well that would be the end of Israel?
      Yes we know what they are about and it is one state which mean the ellimination of Israel. Pity they don;t boycott Turkey China Russia Morroco. etc etc
      In the words of one trnaslater in the UN:
      I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad shit happening, but no one says anything, about the other stuff.

  14. Pingback: BBC displays its campaigning colours in SodaStream story coverage | BBC Watch

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