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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.

 

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December 23, 2013 3

Tablet Magazine Q & A with ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman

Abra­ham H. Foxman

Abra­ham H. Fox­man, National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League, was recently inter­viewed by David Samuels, Lit­er­ary Edi­tor of Tablet Mag­a­zine, on a wide range of sig­nif­i­cant issues fac­ing the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in the United States and abroad.

Mr. Fox­man dis­cussed mat­ters rang­ing from domes­tic and global anti-Semitism, the recent Pew Sur­vey of Jew­ish Amer­i­cans, Jew­ish edu­ca­tion and self-pride, prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, Jew­ish orga­ni­za­tional lead­er­ship, the shame­ful fail­ure to alle­vi­ate the suf­fer­ing of Holo­caust sur­vivors liv­ing in poverty, the case of Jonathan Pol­lard, and the spe­cial rela­tion­ship between Israel and America.

When asked about con­cerns over the state of the Amer­i­can Jew­ish com­mu­nity — in light of the Pew study’s find­ings on inter­mar­riage and assim­i­la­tion — Mr. Fox­man said that, for him, the wor­ries are “of a dif­fer­ent nature” and explained what he sees as the strug­gle between bal­anc­ing the “drive for assim­i­la­tion with the inter­ests of our community.”

Mr. Fox­man also dis­cussed two lin­ger­ing anti-Semitic beliefs that have not changed in five decades despite an over­all decline in anti-Semitic atti­tudes:  the endur­ing canard that “Jews killed Jesus” and the belief, held by 30 per­cent of Amer­i­cans, that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States, which he called “a very seri­ous, haunt­ing, polit­i­cal anti-Semitism.”

At the end of the inter­view, Mr. Fox­man said one of the things that keeps him up at night is “the depen­dency of the Jew­ish peo­ple and Israel on this won­der­ful country.”

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