It’s been a really long journey, but the SodaSream company is now sending a statement of national pride with a new label – a large Israeli flag with the words, “MADE IN ISRAEL” on all of its packaging.
Below the flag is the SodaStream message: “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”
SodaStream, which produces a carbonation machine that allows consumers to make their own soft drinks, has been battling political whiplash from the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement (BDS), which has hounded the firm for years.
“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” said the company in a statement this week.
Despite the risk posed by a prominent display with the Israeli flag, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said there was no reason to hide the company’s manufacturing origin, since it’s already been the target of numerous boycotts.
It was BDS campaigns that forced the company to close its successful factory near Mishor Adumim, the industrial area on the outskirts of Ma’ale Adumim.
As a result, 500 Arab citizens of the Palestinian Authority lost their jobs. The factory relocated to Lehavim in the Israeli Negev, and yet the BDS movement continues to hound the SodaStream firm as an “Occupation” company.
Due to the loss of business from the constant harassment by BDS, the SodaStream plant in Lehavim was forced to lay off its remaining 74 Arab workers in March 2016.
The employees had transferred with the company when it relocated to Lehavim from Mishor Adumim. A move by the British government last month to ban the public sector boycotts of Israeli suppliers came too late for SodaStream’s Arab workers from the Palestinian Authority.
Israel had cut off work permits because many of the murderous terrorists attacking innocent civilians during the “knife intifada” terror wave were found to be PA residents with work permits and no criminal records. Birnbaum vowed to fight to get the work permits back for his Arab employees.
The BDS coordinator in the PA capital city of Ramallah – Mahmoud Nawaja’a – called the loss of the jobs at SodaStream “part of the price that should be paid in the process of ending the occupation.” But then, Nawaja’a was not one of those who lost his livelihood.
Meanwhile, the hundreds of Palestinian Authority Arab citizens who lost their jobs were replaced with hundreds of Negev Bedouin citizens of Israel, who now have great jobs instead.
“Israeli industry is a symbol of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology,” Birnbaum said in a statement. “As a proud Israeli company, we make sure to keep our Israeli identity at a high profile, even if it means fighting on the home front across the European Union and against the economic terrorism of the BDS movement.
“In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves attacked, forced to apologize, and [our products] seized around the world. We Israelis may not be perfect, but we have much to be proud of, and we decided to show it – both for ourselves and for the world.”