Harvard halts SodaStream purchases

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Harvard University will stop buying SodaStream equipment following protests by Palestinian students and their supporters.

The university’s dining service this week agreed to remove the SodaStream labels on existing water machines and purchase new ones from American companies several months after university officials met with members of the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society, The Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported Wednesday.

The existing machines are from a company acquired by SodaStream, an Israeli firm that has been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement because of its factory in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim.

At the meetings, which were held in April, the pro-Palestinian supporters expressed their discomfort with the SodaStream machines and the “potential of the machines to offend those affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict,” according to The Harvard Crimson.

SodaStream announced in October that it would move its West Bank factory to Lehavim, a Negev community near Beersheba in Israel’s South. The move is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

About 1,100 employees work in the Maale Adumim plant, including 850 who are Arab-Israelis or Palestinians. Many of them could lose their jobs in the move.