In the aftermath of a recent demonstration by anti-Israel protesters in front of Winnipeg’s downtown Hudson’s Bay Company (The Bay) store, Canadians are being urged to buy Israeli-made SodaStream products from the retail giant.
On Feb. 10, some 20 boycott, divestment and sanctions activists from an organization calling itself the Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid gathered in front of The Bay asking consumers not to buy products from the Israeli company, which produces its home carbonation machines in a West Bank factory. The protesters claim the company supports occupation of the Palestinian people.
Buycott Israel, an initiative of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), was started in 2009 to encourage consumers to support Israeli-made products in response to boycott actions.
It put out an alert to pro-Israel Canadians last week in response to the Winnipeg event.
“Buycotters – go stock up on your SodaStream and its associated products! Not in the Winnipeg area? Buy SodaStream at your local Bay and thank them for having this great, innovative product in stock,” Buycott Israel said on its website last week.
Protesters advocating against Israeli products made in the occupied territories have targeted The Bay in the past. In 2011 the Ahava cosmetics line was singled out for boycott.
The Bay has consistently refused to be drawn into the politics involved in these campaigns, stating it carries an assortment of products based strictly on business principles and what customers want.
Sara Saber-Freedman, CIJA’s executive vice-president based in Montreal, told The CJN last year that the “buycott” initiative has worked “pretty much every time” it has been employed.
In 2009, hundreds of pro-Israel consumers converged on a mid-town Toronto LCBO outlet to counter a call to boycott Israeli wines. Within a few hours, the store had sold out of its stock of about 150 cases of Israeli wine.
In 2011, Saber-Freedman and Buycott Israel helped dispel rumours that The Bay had removed Ahava beauty products from its shelves as part of a boycott request from Canadian anti-Israel group Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).
The Bay had in fact temporarily removed the products from its stores in order to make room for a rebranded Ahava line that it continues to sell.
Last year, the pro-Israel campaign urged Canadians to shop at housewares retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond in response to a call to boycott Israeli-made Ahava cosmetics and SodaStream home carbonation products being sold at the U.S.-based chain.