Documents obtained by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign show how a subsidiary of an Israeli company operating in Britain turned successfully for help from the Scottish Government to deal with what the Israeli company called “a wave of protests...that is threatening the future of Eden Springs UK”. The contract cancellations had created a “pressing situation” for the subsidiary of the giant Israeli multinational water cooler company.

7 April 2012

edenspringsFeb2010The letter we have obtained, under Freedom of Information legislation, is from the Eden Springs’ Business Development Director to the Director of Scottish enterprise, and reveals a fear of the growing boycott of Eden Springs.  The writer seeks a meeting with an official of Government-funded Scottish Enterprise to obtain “advice or assistance to stem undue harm” to the Israeli company, namely how to avoid further “termination of Eden Springs’ public sector contracts as a result of this boycott”.

The timing is revealing; the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign had launched a campaign in 2007 to inform the public of Eden Springs’ criminality and had secured a steady rate of contract cancellations. Partly as a result, Eden Springs closed their depot in Loanhead in November 2008.

Israeli massacres in Gaza during New Year 2009 then led to student occupations and sit-ins across the UK; during these protests, all the Scottish student groups raised demands during their occupations for their university to end contracts with Eden Springs. Thousands of angry protestors heard the SPSC message to channel their anger into boycott of Eden Springs.

Less than six months later, while the traumatised survivors of Operation Cast Lead were still struggling to survive amidst the rubble of their Gaza homes, MSP Alex Neill of the ruling Scottish National Party offered his support to the Israeli company to cope with the damage caused by the growing boycott. A meeting was quickly arranged between Eden Springs’ management and two un-named representatives of the Scottish Government, who were “ help” Eden Springs by “providing support”. On January 5th 2010, a meeting took place between Eden Springs’ UK Managing Director Jean-Marc Bolinger and Scottish Minister John Swinney.

John Swinney: "I see no human rights abuses"
The Swinney meeting with Bolinger took place just two months before Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond called publicly for Israel to be economically sanctioned to pressure it to end its crimes. During international uproar concerning Israeli misuse of British passports to carry out the murder of a Palestinian official in a Dubai hotel room, the First Minister told a TV audience:
"This has implications for example in trading relationships—you can't have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in".

Despite the First Minister’s speech, the Scottish Government the following year gave £200,000 of Scottish taxpayers’ money to Eden Springs, some of which will end up as profits in Israel, taxed there and freeing up state funds for military aggression and further dispossession of the Palestinian people.

The Scottish Government is financially supporting the business plans of the Scottish subsidiary of an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, which includes public proposals to promote the products of another Israeli settler company, Soda Stream, which is headquartered in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumin in the occupied West Bank.

Despite the Scottish Government’s actions, the boycott campaign against Eden Springs is continuing to grow with, for example, the Scottish TUC and the UK National Union of Students adding their endorsement.

This struggle is a marathon rather than a 100 yards sprint. On the one side, Eden Springs is an Israeli multi-national operating across most of Europe, backed by the Scottish Government. On the other is a modest campaign, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, entirely made up of volunteers, working in their spare time to support the Palestinian freedom struggle and the Palestinian call for boycott of Israeli companies.

The alarm in  Eden Springs' own correspondence at the growing boycott campaign will give added confidence to solidarity campaigners to redouble our efforts to bring this company to book for its crimes.

The correspondence also gives the lie to those Zionist voices raised to deny the effectiveness of the SPSC’s boycott campaign against Eden Springs. The company’s worries were kept from public view while the Israeli Ambassador claimed that "The calls to boycott the Eden Water factory in Scotland have not at this stage actually harmed sales, and we are working so that sales will indeed not be hurt."  The Jerusalem Post repeatedly accused SPSC of “fabricating” the entire story. This line was maintained despite mounting evidence and despite Eden Springs hiring PR company Weber Shandwick in a damage limitation exercise.

Eden Springs tries to conceal its status as a subsidiary of an Israeli multinational for the understandable reason that Israel is a toxic brand for most people worldwide, including most Scots. One Israeli-owned company, the Caledonian Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh threatened to sue SPSC on the explicit grounds that SPSC publicity stated that they are an Israeli company; "the type of allegations as circulated in your leaflets [is] incredibly damaging to the hotel and its business."

The BDS campaign needs to prepare for the next round. This will demand maximum cooperation across the UK through the Boycott Israel Network (BIN) to ratchet up the pressure on an Israeli company we now know to be vulnerable. Internationally, the World Social Forum-Free Palestine in Brazil in October offers an opportunity to develop the case for selecting Eden Springs as a priority target of the BDS campaign Europe-wide.

Mick Napier
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
7 April 2012

The Eden Springs letter claims falsely that:

  • “some inaccuracies have been circulated...regarding the ownership of Eden Springs”
    FACT: Eden Springs is 72% owned by the Israeli holding company Eden Springs Ltd (Mayanot Eden) and 28% by Och-Ziff Capital Management Group. Och-Ziff was founded by Daniel Och, billionaire contributor and Treasurer of Birthright Israel. Arial Sharon once said that Birthright Israel was "one of the most important contributions" to the state of Israel.
  • “SPSC claims that Eden Springs UK sources water from the Golan Heights.”
    FACT: this is untrue. See SPSC factsheet.

The Jerusalem Post denied that Eden Springs had closed any depots in Scotland
FACT: the Eden Springs depot at 4 Dryden Place, Loanhead EH20 9HP closed in November 2008

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