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Friends in Low Places, Going Upstream, Up in Smoke

Jeremy Corbyn Faces New Storm Over his Undeclared Trip to Visit Hamas Chiefs

Claire Ellicot, The Daily Mail, August 20th 2018


Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s Labor leader, met two groups of Hamas officials during a visit to Israel in 2010. Corbyn has been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” [1].

The Context:

  • Corbyn is at the center of a storm over alleged anti-Semitism in the Labor party. During a 2014 visit to Israel, Corbyn was pictured at a wreath-laying ceremony taking place where members of Black September – the terror group behind the 1972 Munich Olympics attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes– are buried.

  • The 2010 visit was run by pro-Hamas group Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and included meetings with Hamas. Corbyn did not meet with any Israeli although he did visit the wife of a man convicted of spying for Hezbollah and Palestinian officials.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted that Corbyn’s actions “deserve unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between." Corbyn responded saying he attended the memorial because he wished to see everyone "who has died in every terrorist incident everywhere" honored as well as begin “a cycle of dialogue [2].” Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Corbyn "needs to recognize he can't cavort with terrorists [3]."

  • Britain's three leading Jewish newspapers recently issued a joint statement warning of an "existential threat" to Jewish life in the United Kingdom if a Corbyn-led Labor wins the next parliamentary election. The warning came after Labor refused to accept the full definition of anti-Semitism as formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance [4].

Conversation Points:

  • What is to be said for Britain’s acceptance of anti-Semitism if Corbyn still retains his position as head of the opposition?

  • Is Corbyn fostering a “cycle of dialogue” by meeting more people who have killed Israelis than actual Israelis?

  • What will happen to British Jewish life if Corbyn’s party wins the next parliamentary election?

SodaStream to Stay in Israel After $3.2 Billion Acquisition

Tamar Zieve, Jerusalem Post, August 20th 2018


Pepsi will pay $3.2 billion for SodaStream, an Israeli producer of countertop soda machines, for a 32% premium over the company’s average 30-day share price. The acquisition expands Pepsi’s exposure to the soda-water market, which is growing fast as consumers shy away from sugar [5].

The Context:

  • SodaStream retains a strong market position due to its machines and distribution network for gas canisters [6]. According to SodaStream, once a consumer purchases its Sparkling Water Maker for roughly $60, approximately $40 is expected to be spent every year on accessories such as exchangeable CO2 cylinders, carbonation bottles, and flavors, upping the total revenue from a single unit to $460 [7].

  • SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum not only plans to keep SodaStream in Israel, he plans to expand operations. SodaStream recently built a factory that will employ a few hundred people in the Negev.

  • SodaStream has been a prime target for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. In 2014, actress Scarlett Johansson appeared in a number of SodaStream advertisements, coming under fire from Oxfam, for which she served as global ambassador. Johansson ultimately resigned from Oxfam. In 2016, international pressure led SodaStream to move out of Mishor Adumim, leading BDS to proclaim victory even though more than 500 hundred Palestinian workers were laid off.

  • Deputy Director of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Haguel declared the acquisition as a “celebration and victory against BDS, who are constantly fighting against blue-and-white companies.”

Conversation Points:

  • What are some reasons SodaStream will remain in Israel?

  • Does the SodaStream sale indicate anything about BDS’ effectiveness?

  • Is it now hypocritical for BDS supporters to enjoy Pepsi products?

Israel Bans Juul e-Cigarettes Over Nicotine Concentration

Reuters, August 21st 2018


Israel outlawed the import and sale of e-cigarettes made by Silicon Valley start-up Juul Labs, citing public health concerns over its nicotine content. 8,000 Israelis die every year from smoking-related illnesses [8].

The Context:

  • Launched in 2015, the flash drive-sized vaping device now accounts for nearly 70% of US e-cigarette sales, an 800% increase over last year [9]. Juul Labs is banned in Europe and the Israeli ban will take effect on September 3rd [10].

  • Juul Labs issued a statement saying it was “incredibly disappointed” and plans to appeal the ban. Juul Labs claims its product’s nicotine levels are no higher than ordinary cigarettes and less damaging to one’s health [11].

  • At least three lawsuits have been filed against Juul Labs in the US since April for allegedly marketing its product as safe while being highly addictive [12].

Conversation Points:

  • Why should Juul be illegal if cigarettes aren’t?

  • Is Juul misleading consumers into thinking its product is less deadly or addictive than cigarettes?

  • Would Juul be under scrutiny if it wasn’t so popular with teenagers?


  1. Corbyn met terror leaders, but not Jews, on trip to Israel in 2010, Times of Israel, August 21st 2018

  2. Netanyahu Slams Corbyn Over Terrorists' Tribute, Haaretz, August 14th 2018

  3. Jeremy Corbyn 'wreath laying' attacked by Israeli PM, BBC, August 14th 2018

  4. Netanyahu Slams Corbyn Over Terrorists' Tribute, Haaretz, August 14th 2018

  5. Why Pepsi Is Right to Splurge on SodaStream, Aaron Back, Wall Street Journal, August 20th 2018

  6. Ibid.

  7. Why Is PepsiCo Paying Such A High Price for SodaStream?, Forbes, August 21st 2018

  8. In Blow to Juul, Israel to Ban Some E-cigarettes, Ronny Linder-Ganz, Haaretz, August 8th 2018

  9. Israel Expected to Ban Marketing of E-Cigarette Juul, Adrian Filut and Lilach Baumer, Calistech, August 7th 2018


  11. In Blow to Juul, Israel to Ban Some E-cigarettes, Ronny Linder-Ganz, Haaretz, August 8th 2018

  12. Israel Expected to Ban Marketing of E-Cigarette Juul, Adrian Filut and Lilach Baumer, Calistech, August 7th 2018

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