The “controversy” over SodaStream sparkling water makers reached its peak in the United States last January, when BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) nuts learned that actress Scarlett Johansson would star in a Super Bowl ad for the company, which — gasp! — operates out of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Johansson stood strong, telling the Huffington Post that SodaStream is “a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”
Why is SodaStream back in the news a year later? An article this week in the Harvard Crimson reports that the school’s dining services provider, sparked by letters from the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society, has since April suspended purchases from the company and even removed the SodaStream labels from machines in service to avoid offense. “These machines can be seen as a microaggression to Palestinian students and their families and like the University doesn’t care about Palestinian human rights,” one student told the Crimson.
That’s not the end of the story, though. In a follow-up published today, the Crimson reported that its story had caught the attention of Harvard University President Drew G. Faust and Provost Alan M. Garber, neither of whom had been consulted about the boycott, putting dining services in hot water.
“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Garber wrote in a statement. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the University, that will be rectified now.”