They’re out of the club, but they’ll never be out of club soda.
Israeli seltzer-machine-maker Soda Stream rewarded four members of the Park Slope Food Co-op with free swag after they were kicked out of the socialist supermarket for disrupting a meeting to defend the business against pro-Palestinian members who want to ban its products.
And the exiles say the prize is proof their controversial defense of the promised land was the act of heroism they have believed it to be all along.
“The co-op sees me as a criminal and other people see me as a hero,” said Rhudi Andreolli. “I was so excited. I’m an ordinary person doing extraordinary things!”
The crunchy Union Street store sentenced Millie Ruttner, Alan Ettlinger, Andreolli and her sister to one-year suspensions after finding them guilty of “uncooperative behavior” at a meeting last year where members of the grocery store’s so-called “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement were condemning Soda Stream for its factory in the West Bank — the culmination of an eight-year battle between members over banishing Israeli products from shelves to protest the country’s occupation of Palestine.
In a letter included with the make-your-own pop machines, Soda Stream did not explicitly mention that they were rewards for rushing the stage to unplug the projector the pro-boycotters were using to convey their message, instead writing that they are for “sharing information with the Park Slope Food Co-op about the fair and transparent way we operate and about our commitment to creating broad opportunity.”
But it is clear to the rabble rousers that their unsanctioned offensive was at the heart of the company’s gift.
“It’s just a thank-you for standing up for them, which we did,” said Ettlinger.
The machine allows the spurned shoppers to convert regular tap water into flavored soda, and they think the gizmo is pretty neat.
“I love seltzer water,” said Andreolli. “In the co-op, I was buying organic sodas, and it was expensive. Sometimes I make the seltzer and get so excited.”
The exiles would rather see themselves welcomed back to the co-op, ending their banishment to such loathsome markets as Key Foods and C-Town, but their new home kitchen appliances are nonetheless a welcome consolation prize as they serve out the remainder of their suspension, said Ettlinger.
“We haven’t had an effect on the co-op yet — that’s like hitting your head against a brick wall — but it vindicates us as far as that we did something right,” he said. “We were protesting b——- and hatred, which any moral human being would do.”
Neither the co-op, nor its Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions group, returned requests for comment.