By ADRIAN TAHOURDIN
I was given a SodaStream for my birthday last year. As the donor occasionally reminds me, it was a generous present. Just as well then that it has become my most cherished gadget. Apparently SodaStream were big in the 90s, but I’m all for retro. And rather than spending a small fortune on bottled sparkling mineral water (sorry San Pellegrino) to which I’m addicted, I have my own readymade supply at home – and without the possibly damaging minerals of the bottled products.
As we have learnt over the past 24 hours, Scarlett Johansson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona etc) fronts an advertising campaign for the product. I didn’t know. And she’s an ambassador for Oxfam – didn’t know that either. The two are, according to Oxfam, irreconcilable because SodaStream is an Israeli-owned company operating in the Occupied Territories and Oxfam have clear guidelines there.
But as the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly suggested on the radio this morning, it’s not so clear-cut. SodaStream is Israeli-owned but it employs 500 Palestinians, one of whom was interviewed; he praised the working conditions and pay and pointed out that this wasn’t a case of building houses on Palestinian land but rather an equal-opportunity job-creating plant. Ok, one employee doesn't necessarily represent the views of the whole workforce, but it was interesting to hear nevertheless. The company’s CEO Daniel Birnbaum meanwhile robustly rejected Oxfam’s stance.
Johansson has resigned her Oxfam role and will continue to promote SodaStream. Meanwhile I’ve had a thorough look at the literature that came with my product – very impressive it is too: the instruction manual, in many languages, is a thing of beauty. But where I would normally expect to read “Made in China” or “Made in the EU” there’s nothing. No “Made in Israel” and certainly no “Made in the Occupied Territories”. It’s almost as if it’s a stateless product.
But I’ll carry on using it, with pleasure. And that reminds me: I need to replace the CO2 canister this weekend.