George Soros funds and foundations must be held accountable for investments in Israeli violations of international law
Ramallah, 21 May 2014 -- The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society that is leading the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights, called today for a boycott of the Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations due to the recently announced -- first-quarter 2014 -- investment by Soros in SodaStream stock and increased investment in Teva Pharmaceuticals, both Israeli companies that are deeply involved in violations of international law.
SodaStream is an Israeli company that manufactures in Maale Adumim, an illegal settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) and, as such, is deeply complicit in Israel's violations of international law. Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime.
Leading UN officials and human rights organizations, including Oxfam, have condemned settlement-based industries as profiting from the Israeli occupation and colluding in the denial of Palestinian rights.
The BDS movement has consistently targeted complicit Israeli and international corporations -- involved in Israel’s occupation, settlements and other international law infringements -- such as Sodatream, G4S, Ahava, Mekorot, Elbit, Veolia, Caterpillar, Africa Israel, all Israeli banks, among others.
According to the Israeli human rights group, WhoProfits, as Israel’s largest pharmaceutical company, “Teva enjoys the advantages generated by the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands allowing the company to exploit the Palestinian market. 'Quality and Security reasons' in conjunction with economic and political justifications create a Palestinian captive market for Israeli and multinational companies.”
SodaStream markets itself as environmentally friendly to hide the fact that it is, after all, part of a colonial enterprise. More than 200 Palestinian families were expelled from their homes to make way for the construction of Maale Adumim in the 1990s, in defiance of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has announced its intentions to forcibly displace another 2,300 Palestinians from their land in order to facilitate further expansion of the settlement.
Palestinian trade unions have consistently rejected any suggestion that the oppressive reality of living under a brutal occupation — sometimes leaving Palestinians with no choice but to export produce through complicit Israeli companies or work in illegal settlements — is a reason not to take action to end international complicity in human rights violations. Palestinian workers employed by SodaStream have explained that they face systematic discrimination and are “treated like slaves”.
Soros Fund Management’s reported investment in settlement-based SodaStream comes at a time when civil society, the private sector and governments across the world are increasingly shunning businesses that contribute to Israel’s occupation and violations of international law. SodaStream stock has lost 18% of its value since the beginning of 2014, according to Bloomberg.
International supporters of Palestinian rights have responded to calls for boycotts of SodaStream, organising protests across hundreds of stores and many European retailers have pledged not to sell products produced in illegal Israeli settlements. The Dutch and UK governments have recently warned businesses to avoid business links with illegal Israeli settlements.
Following the recent high profile outcry about actor Scarlett Johansson's association with SodaStream, investment analysts have stated that SodaStream "comes with baggage" and that their illegal settlement factory is "a touchstone for controversy". Indeed, their first quarter 2014 results show a drop of 14% in their share price.
George Soros’s alleged respect for human rights and the Open Society Foundation’s actual support for various educational, human rights and cultural projects in the occupied Palestinian territory and the region are incompatible with his investment in companies, like Teva and SodaStream, that consistently violate human rights and international law and profit from the Israeli occupation and colonization.
We call on Mr. Soros to immediately divest his Fund Management from all companies that profit from Israel’s occupation and well-documented human rights violations. Two particularly useful sources for research on such companies are: www.WhoProfits.org and www.corporateoccupation.org.
We call on all Palestinian, Arab and international organizations that have received funding from the Soros foundations to pressure Mr. Soros to clean his investment portfolio of human rights violators and to refrain from applying for funds from these foundations if he fails to do so.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)