(JTA) — Harvard University Dining Service has halted purchases of SodaStream equipment, after Palestinian students and their supporters protested.
The dining service had been purchasing water machines from a company acquired by the Israeli company SodaStream, which has been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement due to its factory located in Maale Adumim, a West Bank settlement.
SodaStream announced in October that it would move its West Bank factory to Lehavim, a Negev community near Beersheba in Israel’s South. The move is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. There are currently about 1,100 employees in the Maale Adumim plant, including 850 who are Arab-Israelis or Palestinians, many of whom could lose their jobs in the move.
The dining service made the change after members of the College Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Harvard Islamic Society met with University officials to express their discomfort with the machines and the “potential of the machines to offend those affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the student newspaper The Harvard Crimson reported Wednesday.
Following the meetings, which took place in April, the dining service agreed to remove the SodaStream labels on existing machines and to purchase new machines from American companies.
Harvard University’s president has reportedly requested an investigation into the decision by the university’s dining service to stop buying SodaStream equipment. Drew Faust asked for an investigation into the decision, Provost Alan Garber told The Harvard Crimson student newspaper on Wednesday night.
The request came following an article written earlier in the day by the newspaper reporting that the university’s dining service agreed in April to halt buying the equipment following protests by Palestinian students and their supporters.
“Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy,” Garber wrote in an email statement to the Crimson late Wednesday night. “If this policy is not currently known or understood in some parts of the University, that will be rectified now.”
Garber said in the statement that neither he nor Faust was aware of the decision before reading about it in the newspaper.
SodaStream announced in October that it would move its West Bank factory to Lehavim, a Negev community near Beersheba in Israel’s South. The move is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. About 1,100 employees work in the Maale Adumim plant, including 850 who are Arab-Israelis or Palestinians. Many of them could lose their jobs in the move.