SodaStream International, an Israeli firm, has announced a deal has been finalized to close its factory in Mishor Adumim – an industrial park in the Samaria city of Maale Adumim, ten minutes north of Jerusalem – and move to southern Israel. Negotiations have been in the works for months.
The company and anyone associated has been harassed unmercifully by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement due to the location of the factory, which was built in an area developed by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War.
That includes actress Scarlett Johansson, who quit her post as a spokesperson for the far left Oxfam International nonprofit organization after being hassled for her ties to SodaStream.
But BDS activists somehow missed the point that the factory emphasizes co-existence in its even-handed approach to hiring some 500 Palestinian Authority Arabs as well as Jews.
With the closure of the factory, PA Arabs are the ones whose livelihoods will be hurt the most; many will find it difficult to replace their wages and working conditions (on-site mosque, etc) locally. Most may be unable to cross into pre-1967 Israel to replace their current jobs within a reasonable distance.
Even more ridiculous is the fact that SodaStream never should have been a target in the first place. Mishor Adumim was always seen as a place that would remain under Israeli control, according to the 1993 internationally-recognized Oslo Accords, signed both by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Nevertheless, the international BDS movement has been tracking and harassing SodaStream for quite some time and apparently, it intends to continue despite the disappearance of any reason to harass its target.
One would think activists with the group would be lifting glasses of the bubbly to celebrate SodaStreams move across the so-called “Green Line” into pre-1967 Israel.
But not so. Now the group is claiming it will continue its boycott because SodaStream will move its factory next year to Lehavim, near Be’er Sheva, in the “Naqab.”
The move will bring the company a savings of two percent, officials say.
But BDS insists the factory will displace Bedouin residents of the “Naqab” – that is, the Negev. How the construction of a factory in Lehavim, an existing town, will displace Bedouin residents in the vast expanse of a region that comprises literally 60 percent of Israels land mass, is anyone’s guess.
But somehow, the BDS people have managed to twist their logic around that pretzel.
Israel, meanwhile, is providing an incentive grant of $20 million for the new factory as part of its effort to encourage revitalization in the south.
Will SodaStream try to obtain work permits for its current Arab employees? Yes, says CEO Daniel Brinbaum, of course. He will welcome them at the new plant as well – but they will face a daily trip of up to 60 miles from the original work site.
Co-existence does not go out of style in a corporate culture simply because a factory relocates. It just may be that those PA Arabs who are unable to move south with SodaStream into pre-1967 Israel will end up being replaced by Negev Bedouin.
Jews and Bedouin in southern Israel have been living and working together for decades, BDS notwithstanding. In the south, Israelis have no reason to prove anything to anyone, least of all to activists with an agenda to stir up trouble without necessity. Survival is everyone’s main priority, first and last.
Hana Levi Julian