“All the people who wanted to close SodaStream’s West Bank factory are mistaken… They didn’t take into consideration the families,” Ali Jafar, a Palestinian SodaStream employee stated back in 2015. He had been working at the Israeli company’s West Bank factory which produced home carbonation drink machines for two years before it was shut down due to pressure from the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) campaign.
The BDS campaign aims to prevent people around the world from buying Israeli products, and even has targeted celebrities and educational institutions for their support for or representation of anything related to the Jewish state. The campaign claims that Israel practices apartheid in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – similar to that which was practiced in South Africa. However, SodaStream and its employees contradict such lies about Israel. The factory had been bringing Palestinians and Israelis to work together happily, and today also employs Arabs and Bedouins. Management and staff had shared that benefits and salaries were the same for employees in the same job setting, regardless of whether they were Jewish, Bedouin or Palestinian. In some cases, Palestinian workers were even given higher positions than their Jewish counterparts. In a video made by the SodaStream employees, you can see them introducing each other and working side-by-side in peace.
Following SodaStream’s fall in sales, the factory had to be relocated to Southern Israel and as a result, had to lay off the 500 West Bank Palestinians it had employed. In the end, the global campaign intended to delegitimize Israel had in fact hurt the Palestinians. It had hurt the opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to work together and build relationships.
Regardless of the progress and happiness felt by the workers, the fanatics of the BDS campaign squandered a wonderful opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis alike. This is just one example of the BDS campaign attacking Israel with blind, unjustifiable hatred; and the torment continues. In response to the boycotts and protests, SodaStream will now be placing stickers that read, “Made is in Israel: This product is produced by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony” on all of its products.
The question is, what are the real goals of the BDS campaign? Is it to help the Palestinians, or is it to use the Palestinians as a reason to target Israel? Either way, it has neither been helping Palestinians, nor has it been using factual claims as a basis for its Israel hatred. Innocent people working towards peace should not have to suffer because of the hatred spewed out by the ignorant.
Contributed by Rutgers University CAMERA Fellow Deborah Shamilov.