By Anonymous (not verified) on January 28, 2013

There is no more valuable piece of cultural commercial real estate than a sixty-second ad during the Super Bowl. The NFL's championship game is perhaps the last collective viewing experience in our fractured culture, and at a cost of $3-$5 million a commercial, the NFL and television networks know it.

Over the years, the league and their broadcast partners have aired ads that have been sexist, violent, or simply disgusting. Their only stated rule is no political advertising. Yet even this rule has been subject to a brazen double standard. While Move On and other liberal advocacy groups have had their ads rejected on a regular basis, Tim Tebow was allowed two years ago to do an ad for the anti-gay, anti-choice organization Focus on the Family. Anti-union ads were allowed to run regionally last year, as well.

For the 2013 game, there is another example of the political double standard at play. The league and the networks agreed to broadcast an ad produced by the company SodaStream. SodaStream is a gadget that allows people to carbonate their own beverages. As SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum says, "This is the new way to do soda. We're revolutionizing it. There exists a smarter way to enjoy soft drinks, getting the bubbles without the bottles."

There is just one problem with Birnbaum's "revolutionary" company: It's housed in an illegal Israeli settlement on the West Bank.

Not only are SodaStream products manufactured there, but Palestinian workers have been fired when trying to agitate for better wages and working conditions.

"It's crucial to burst the bubble of SodaStream as a progressive, eco-friendly company," Rae Abileah, co-director of Code Pink and co-founder of the organization Young Jewish and Proud, told me. "By manufacturing in occupied territory, they're violating international law and human rights. Because they are located in an industrial area that basically bisects the West Bank, it makes the stated goal of a two-state solution an impossibility."

Stores that sell Soda­Stream have been picketed regularly in the United States to raise awareness of the conditions under which it's produced. Now organizations like Jewish Voices for Peace are using the company's prime presence on Super Bowl Sunday to draw awareness to the Occupation and those who profit from it.

"The new Soda­Stream publicity blitz has given the U.S. boycott, divestment, sanctions movement a marvelous opportunity to bring our campaigns targeting settlement products to a new, unprecedented level of visibility and success," Anna Baltzer, an organizer of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, told the Associated Press.

SodaStream and the Israeli government may regret the efforts to raise the profile of this company. The noise you hear is the bursting of SodaStream's bubble.

Dave Zirin is the host of Sirius XM Radio's popular weekly show, "Edge of Sports Radio." His newest book is "Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down" (The New Press).

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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