What Targeting SodaStream Reveals About the BDS Movement » ADL Blogs
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January 30, 2014 1

What Targeting SodaStream Reveals About the BDS Movement

by Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared in The Huff­in­g­ton Post on Jan­u­ary 30, 2014

SodaS­tream, the Israeli gad­get for home­made seltzer and soda is the boogey man– du jour for activist sup­port­ing the boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) move­ment. Retail­ers around the world have been lob­bied to remove SodaS­tream prod­ucts from their shelves.   A pub­lic radio sta­tion in San Fran­cisco recently suc­cumbed to pres­sure to remove the soda machine as a pledge gift.  Most promi­nently, Star­let Scar­lett Johans­son is being vil­i­fied for her Super Bowl com­mer­cials for the product.

What com­pletely upends the defama­tion of SodaS­tream by these entrenched anti-Israel activists is this this boom­ing global company’s humane and prac­ti­cal com­mit­ment to true Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

The ral­ly­ing point for BDSer’s is that one of SodaStream’s 22 man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ties is located in an indus­trial park in the Israeli set­tle­ment of Maale Adu­mim, and they accuse the com­pany of “prof­it­ing from the occupation.”

But SodaS­tream is far from an evil prof­i­teer, colo­nially exploit­ing the Pales­tini­ans.  The fac­tory employs 500 West Bank Pales­tini­ans out of its 1300 on-site employ­ees.  Describ­ing the work­ing con­di­tions in the plant, in a 2012 inter­view with Al-Monitor, CEO Daniel Birn­baum, explains:

“We are build­ing bridges between us and the Pales­tin­ian pop­u­la­tion, and we pro­vide our Pales­tin­ian employ­ees with respectable employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties and an appro­pri­ate salary and ben­e­fits. We “even” pur­chase med­ical insur­ance for them from a pri­vate Israeli com­pany, because I am not con­fi­dent that the money we pay to the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity for such social ben­e­fits will actu­ally be used for med­ical insurance.”

“Our fac­tory has a syn­a­gogue, but it also has a small mosque. We all eat the same food in the same din­ing hall, and if nec­es­sary, we will go through the same secu­rity inspection.”

Birn­baum told the For­ward this week, SodaS­tream will not close the facil­ity and move employ­ees to its new plant in the Negev, because of the impli­ca­tions for those Pales­tin­ian work­ers: “We will not throw our employ­ees under the bus to pro­mote anyone’s polit­i­cal agenda,” he said.  Chal­leng­ing the BDS activists, he added:  he “just can’t see how it would help the cause of the Pales­tini­ans if we fired them.”

As for SodaS­tream as the poster child of Israel’s “occu­pa­tion,” Birn­baum posited to the For­ward that should a Pales­tin­ian state be estab­lished, SodaS­tream will remain in the West Bank and “pay its taxes to the new Pales­tin­ian state.” “We already have fac­to­ries under the con­trol of the Chi­nese, the Ger­mans, the Amer­i­cans and many other coun­tries,” he said. “So what’s the prob­lem to have a fac­tory in the in the Pales­tin­ian state-to-be? We don’t give a hoot where the fac­tory is going to be.”

The pil­lo­ry­ing of SodaS­tream by BDS activists only reveals the absur­dity of their blind cam­paign, and their mis­guided refusal to engage in con­struc­tive dia­logue regard­ing the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and, at their core, rejec­tion of Israel as the Jew­ish national home­land and the two-state solution.

Retail­ers and con­sumers have voted with their pock­et­books to make SodaS­tream a global suc­cess in the home bev­er­age market.

Sadly, those tar­get­ing SodaS­tream only con­tinue to pro­mote divisiveness.