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Misguided Anti SodaStream Protestors at American University

June 19, 2013 3:31 pm 9 comments

Screenshot from a SodaStream ad.

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, Damián 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.

9 Comments

  • Here’s another point – like Martin, I also am a devout and concerned Jew who is very concerned about Zionism – that these settlements for example are really no more than stealing land, and that violates basic principles of Judaism – in fact the 10 Commandments. And no way does Holocaust trauma, verses in the Torah, ancient ancestors in resident or spiritual connection to the land rationalize this. These are good reasons to live in Palestine, but no way do they rationalize stealing land from others who live there.

    This is what shames Judaism – these things being done in the name of Judaism. Is this what we were taught in Synagogue, and to then just call people names when they protest in a reasonable manner? This is what shames Judaism. Martin was being very reasonable, very civil, and we owe him an apology. You should think about this because the entire world is watching and we are not fooling anyone.

  • I believe that Martin makes some very good points about the illegal settlements, and the lack of employment choices in the OT does not justify the settlements, etc. It would be good if those opposed could say something intelligent in rebuttal instead of just calling people names, which is actually the tactic of those who cannot defend their positions. Remember – the entire world is watching.

  • Jewish Voice for Peace at AU is not misguided at all actually.. SodaStream is an Israeli company with its main factory in the industrial park of Ma’aleh Adumim, the largest Israeli Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Being in the settlements provides SodaStream structural advantages – low rent, a labor force that is easily exploited, special tax incentives, and lax enforcement of regulations. SodaStream built its factory in the settlement in order to receive financial incentives from the Israeli government, and like all businesses in the settlements’ industrial parks, SodaStream qualifies for ongoing tax deductions. Palestinian workers in the settlements do not enjoy the full protection of Israeli labor laws. They must get special permits and security clearance just to be able to enter these factories. Involvement in a labor dispute constitutes a security risk and can result in the loss of not only a worker’s current job but their ability to work in settlements in the future. Thus, many Palestinian workers do not demand their legal employment rights due to fear of losing their work permit. As with all business in the illegal settlements, SodaStream pays taxes to Israel, not to the Palestinian Authority. The municipal taxes that SodaStream pays are used exclusively to support the growth and development of the settlement through things such as roads, education, and sewage treatment.

    I view buying products such as SodaStream that are manufactured in the settlements as contributing to sustaining the illegal settlements. That is why a number of organizations and even political parties within Israel are calling for this (Meretz, APN).

  • You idiots (Herb Glatter), the over 50% of the Protesters were jewish.

  • Martin Federman

    I am a life-long Jewish professional with strong ties to Israel and I strongly resent those who try to answer the rational beliefs and arguments of others by simply discounting them as “Jew haters”. But, more directly to the point of this article, Ms. Wolf’s facts are simply untrue. Nothing in the Oslo accords preempted the Geneva Conventions [to which Israel is a signatory] and gives Israel the right [civil or military] to expropriate land owned privately by the indigenous people in order to re-settle citizens of the occupying power to occupied territory or for the development of industrial areas that benefit the occupying power rather than the occupied peoples. Beyond that, to commend SodaStream for providing a tiny number of jobs to people who feel compelled to take them since the occupation – and settlement – of their country has totally undermined their economic base is ludicrous and an incredible distortion of the true effect on life in occupied Palestine. Palestinians themselves have, as a whole, said clearly [as South African blacks once said about boycotts that ended Apartheid] that they would gladly sacrifice the short-term loss of “900 jobs” in order to overturn the systemic destruction of their society and economy represented by the very nature of occupation. The twisting of the realities that CAMERA continues to perpetuate does nothing to help the Palestinian people *OR* ultimately Israel or Israelis.

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Snatch all the cell phones out of the BDStards hands since they contain nefarious Jewish technology.

  • Herb Glatter

    Rachel – these “protesters” are not misguided, they hate Jews.

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