#NotInMyFridge -Boycott Coca-Cola in Gaza Campaign -Leicester, England
The campaign to kick Coca Cola out: #NotInMyFridge
The campaign started by FOA (Friends of Al-Aqsa) was a response to what the organisation and activists see as a violation of the Palestinian rights. Coca Cola, operating under CBC (Central Bottling Company) in Israel, holds its regional distribution centre in an illegal settlement in Atarot. This centre markets the company’s products to the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem.
Coca Cola has a Palestinian franchise too, NBC (National Beverage Company), which according to Who Profits, has no access to East Jerusalem, leaving it to the Israeli franchise to profit there.
On its launch date, 20 December, the social media campaign, using the hastag #NotInMyFridge, trended number 8 in the UK on Twitter, according to FOA. The campaign which asks participants to send selfies with their Coca Cola free fridge, has attracted ‘huge participants from all around the world’. The FOA representative said they have had people from many countries including, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, and Malaysia, asking for leaflets to distribute. A demand which led FOA to think about working with activists in these countries to organise campaigns in their respective countries.
Here’s Why Coca-Cola is #NotInMyFridge
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been growing globally. BDS allows individuals to take a stand for justice, and make politically conscious decisions to boycott companies that are complicit in Israel’s occupation.
Friends of Al-Aqsa have been calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola for several years in response to its support of Israel, and its illegal and immoral occupation, evidenced by subsidiary companies operating in illegal settlements.
So what are the settlements and why is it bad that Coca-Cola operates in them?
Israeli settlements are Jewish-only colonies, built on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and in the Syrian Golan Heights. Israel started building settlements in 1967, after it illegally occupied Gaza and the West Bank. It hasn’t stopped expanding them since, stealing more and more Palestinian land in the process.
The settlements violate Palestinian human rights, including the right to property, equality, a decent standard of living, and freedom of movement. Israel’s settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and therefore illegal under international law. The settlements deny Palestinians the right to self-determination, and also make it impossible for Palestinians to establish a viable independent state. Settlers get away with land theft while attacking and harassing Palestinians on a daily basis for simply being Palestinians.
Coca-Cola’s operations in Israeli settlements not only violate international law but also help to sustain Israel’s ongoing occupation. Coca-Cola operates in the Atarot and Shadmot Mehola settlements.
(This is called propaganda. Palestine is ruled by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, both under strict sharia. Coca-Cola is under the PA. Remember, Israel is the last place in the Middle East where women are equal to men.)
Coca-Cola Palestine CEO Blasted for Calling for Israel Boycott
“This is unacceptable and indeed in conflict with Khouri’s role as CEO of a Coca-Cola subsidiary,”
In a Sept. 14 column in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Khouri expressed his support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. He also called for the involvement of the international community in forcing Israel into a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In the Op-Ed he is identified as chairman of the Palestinian Tourism Co. in Ramallah.
Khouri’s column and support of BDS was referenced on Monday in an Op-Ed in the New York Observer.
“Zahi Khouri’s anti-Semitic remarks confirm him as an opponent of the Jewish State of Israel’s existence, one who seeks to ostracize, damage and ultimately overcome Israel by means of the BDS campaign of continual, progressive delegitimization of Israel so as to compel it to make untenable concessions to a Palestinian movement that has no intention of living in peace with Israel,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said in a statement issued Tuesday in response to the Op-Ed.
In a letter to Coca-Cola CEO Mukhtar Kent, Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center warned the company that Khouri’s actions violate U.S. and international laws and threatened a lawsuit.
“This letter is a warning to the Coca-Cola Company that it should rescind its franchise agreement with the Palestinian National Beverage Company, headed by Zahi Khouri, who openly advocates for BDS against Israel. The Coca-Cola Company should not affiliate itself with any person or entity calling for a boycott or similar effort against the Israeli government or the nation’s manufacturers, companies, products or services,” read the letter.
Shurat HaDin also called on Coca-Cola to make clear that it will not support any kind of boycott against Israel.
Zahi Khouri was nine when his Palestinian Christian family left their home in Jaffa. It was 1948; modern Israel was being born, and his parents, listening to the messengers running into town with news of fighting, decided to leave.
He’s always second-guessed that decision by his parents. “It was a mistake to leave,” the now 77-year-old said. “It’s your home.”
And that’s why Khouri went back. After a career that saw him climb to the position of president at the giant Saudi Arabian consumer conglomerate, the Oylayan Group, he returned in 1997 to run a Coca-Cola franchise, now a $100m operation and the third-largest employer in the territory, with 450 staff.
2014- Coca-Cola to open first factory in Gaza
Coca-Cola is planning to build it first factory in Gaza within a year, according to the chairman of the Ramallah-based National Beverage Company.
“We’ve been shipping to Gaza on a regular basis with the approval of the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli authorities,” said Palestinian businessman Zahi Khouri, speaking to The Jerusalem Post. “It made commercial sense to have a plant [in Gaza] so we could sell the product at a much a lower cost.”
Khouri said that he organised the venture with the approval of the Palestinian Authority and that any taxes paid by his organisation would go exclusively to the PA – therefore avoiding any issues with terror-finance laws. (PA-Palestinian Authority)
Some supporters of the Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel on the world stage have called for a boycott of Coca Cola products as a result of its investments in the country, including Coca-Cola Israel’s ownership of dairy farms in Israeli settlements of Shadmot Mechola in the Jordan Valley and a plant in the occupied Golan Heights.
However, the Palestinian BDS National Committee has described a boycott of Coca-Cola as not a priority.
Our Coca-Cola Palestinian Business -At Coca-Cola we believe that we are one of the world’s most inclusive brands and we are proud to serve our beverages everywhere we are allowed to operate, which includes over 200 countries around the world, of which 14 countries are in the Middle East.
Over recent weeks, we’ve received a number of questions, and heard a few misperceptions, regarding our operations in the Middle East and particularly around our Palestinian presence. It is important to us that we operate with openness and so want to share some background to our Palestinian business and some of the things that we are proud of since we started our operations there in 1998.
Today, Coca-Cola employs 400 associates across three Palestinian bottling plants in Ramallah, Jericho and Tulkarem and seven distribution centers, and our business supports a further 4,000 Palestinian households through retail and across our supply-chain. We are proud to be the country’s third largest employer and fifth largest investor.
We know that investment needs to be a continuous cycle for communities and our business to thrive together. In December 2013, we announced our plans to increase our Palestinian investment and will open a new bottling plant in Gaza in 2015 which represents a $20m investment and will create 120 direct jobs while supporting a further 1,200 indirect jobs throughout our value chain..
In One Sign Of Hope After War, Coca-Cola Factory Set To Open In Gaza
In one of the first signs of hope in Gaza since the end of the war in August 2014, Coca cola and a group of Palestinians are opening a long-delayed $20 million Coke factory in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The factory is the first significant economic development in the territory since the latest Gaza War. It is expected to directly employ about 250 people, and indirectly to provide employment that supports about 1,000 families or more, those of the drivers, suppliers and others who will provide services to the factory.
The entrepreneur behind the story is Zahi Khouri, who, with a group of investors, owns the Coca-Cola franchise in Palestine. He’s operated a Coke factory in the West Bank since 1997.
They are caught in an ongoing, periodic military conflict between Hamas, which controls the territory, and Israel.
Coca-Cola and local bottler open Gaza plant
Coca-Cola and its Palestinian bottling franchisee have opened the US beverage group’s first production plant in the Gaza Strip, marking a rare foreign manufacturing investment in the Israeli-blockaded, conflict-prone coastal territory. On Wednesday, Coca-Cola and National Beverage Company, the West Bank-based bottler of fizzy drinks and juices, inaugurated the $20m project, along with a charitable initiative to provide clean water to thousands of Gaza inhabitants.
Unemployment in Gaza stands at 43 per cent and, despite efforts to create jobs in industries such as offshoring, the majority of its 2m inhabitants rely on some form of humanitarian aid. Coca-Cola’s bottling plant is in the Karni industrial area of the eastern Gaza Strip, where the territory abuts Israel. It borders on the neighbourhood of Al-Shejaiya, which saw some of the fiercest fighting and physical devastation during Israel’s most recent military operation against Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, in 2014.
“The size of the market is over two million, so it’s justifiable, considering the logistics costs,” said Zahi Khouri, NBC’s chairman. “If you think about it, in the West Bank we are serving 4m people and we have three plants.” Israel has maintained a naval and aerial blockade of Gaza since Hamas took power in 2007, in an attempt to keep the group from rearming. It maintains strict control on the flow of goods and people into and out of the territory through an elaborate system of checkpoints and scanners, designed to prevent materials with potential military use entering Gaza under the guise of business. As a result, NBC has had to import its drinks from plants in the West Bank, via border checks that entailed loading and unloading the trucks eight times.
At one point, the bottling company calculated that it was cheaper to export a container of its product to China via the Israeli port of Ashdod than it was to send it from Ramallah to Gaza.
Fizzy drinks are popular in Gaza, whose Islamist rulers prohibit alcohol.
Mr Khouri said that, in a move to reduce the price to customers, his company had opted to produce the Coca-Cola it bottles in Gaza in returnable bottles, although it will continue to market non-returnable drinks shipped in from its West Bank factories. However, with clean water still in short supply in Gaza, where the infrastructure is straining under the pressure of a growing population and the conflict with Israel, the new plant has had to include its own water treatment facility. Separately on Wednesday, the Coca-Cola Foundation, NBC, and Mercy Corps, a humanitarian aid agency, announced a $1.3m charitable initiative that includes plans to build a desalination plant near the al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, where more than 24,000 people live. Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola’s arch-rival, already produces drinks in Gaza.