On February 24, 2013 a group of American University students, along with various Washington, DC activists, gathered in front of a local Best Buy to protest SodaStream, an Israeli company that produces an at home carbonation system.
These protesters, led by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), were there because they believe that one of the SodaStream factories is illegally located in the West Bank.
The Eagle, American University’s student newspaper, published an article entitled SodaStream protested at Tenleytown Best Buy, in which reporter, Devin Mitchell, interviewed American University SJP president, DamiÃ¡n Fontanez, who said, “Companies that make illegal products should not be patronized by retailers.” These students are under the impression that the factory’s location somehow disenfranchises Palestinians. However, this is not the case. In fact, the company’s main factory is located in Mishor Adumim, an area that is under Israeli military and civilian control in accordance with the Oslo Accords.
Many Palestinians call this SodaStream factory their workplace. Writing for Al Monitor, an Arab publication, in an article entitled Embarrassment at Israeli President Shimon Peres’s House, a reporter, Shlomi Eldar, describes a ceremony honoring the CEO of SodaStream, Daniel Birnbaum with the Outstanding Exporter Award. He claimed that at the West Bank factory they, “employ some 900 Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.” The company that the allegedly pro-Palestinian movement has worked so hard to demonize is actually benefiting the very people that this movement claims to defend.
Furthermore, when describing the work environment, Birnbaum says, “We practice equality and full cooperation both on the job and off it. 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.” Once again, this statement demonstrates the company’s commitment to equality among all of its employees, Palestinian Arab and Israeli.
While these American University students may think that they have found the next “hot button” issue when it comes to Israel defamation, they have only stumbled upon something of which they cannot grasp the true implications.
See this clip to learn more about Soda Stream’s operations.
Rachel Wolf is an intern at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). This piece was originally published in the CAMERA on Campus Blog In Focus. She is a rising sophomore at American University in and currently starting a CAMERA Campus Action Group on her own campus.