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Paris court fines pro-Palestinian group for SodaStream boycott campaign

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(JTA) — A Paris court fined a pro-Palestinian group for its campaign to boycott the products of the Israeli SodaStream company.

Last week, the Tribunal for Grand Instances fined the France Palestine Solidarity Association about $9,000. The court, which was ruling on a lawsuit brought by SodaStream’s representative in France, also ordered the group to remove boycott calls from its website against the home soda maker and its agents.

The campaign violated French law, the court ruled, because it falsely claimed the company was deceiving customers and was guilty of fraud, read the 10-page ruling, which was obtained by JTA.

S.A.S OPM France sued the association last year in connection with the boycott campaign launched in 2010 on its website and in local papers in the Nantes region. Consumers were encouraged to boycott SodaStream, which has a factory in Maale Adumim in the West Bank, and its French distributor, the Nantes-based OPM firm.

The judge ordered the association to pay OPM about $5,500 and another $3,400 to cover legal costs.

“While this action is legal when it is done in defense of clients, it is illegal when it becomes abusive, notably when it is pursued for ends other than the protection of consumers or disproportionately,” the ruling said.

The campaign included videos on YouTube and ads in local papers accusing OPM of defrauding clients. The court rejected arguments by the association that its actions were protected under France’s 1881 law on freedom of the press.

 

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