SodaStream to Close Oft-Targeted West Bank Plant
JNS.org – The beverage carbonation company SodaStream has decided to close its West Bank plant in Ma’ale Adumim. The plant’s location has made it a frequent target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel—particularly leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl, when it ran a TV advertisement featuring Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson.
SodaStream plans to relocate its plant to northern Israel by late 2015. Despite ongoing pressure from BDS activists, a spokeswoman for SodaStream told Bloomberg News that the decision to move the plant was “purely commercial” and part of the company’s “global growth plan.”
This year, the West Bank plant employed 500 Palestinians and 450 Israeli Arabs, along with 350 Israeli Jews. Johansson had drawn criticism from the U.K.-based charity Oxfam International for serving as a pitchwoman for SodaStream, leading her to quit her role as a global ambassador for Oxfam.
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” Johansson said at the time. “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”
In February, SodaStream Chief Executive Officer Daniel Birnbaum said the company is “not a settlement, we’re a factory… We do not sustain the settlement economy, we sustain the Palestinian and Israeli economies, so shutting this factory down will have no benefit to the Palestinian people or the peace process.”