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September 18, 2015 4:02 am

The BDS Movement Is Actually Hurting Palestinians

avatar by Alex Margolin

Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson, the face of the Israeli company SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

As SodaStream, one of the top targets for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, shuts its West Bank factory and moves over the Green Line – taking hundreds of well-paying jobs with it – debate has raged over the true impact of the boycott. And the evidence increasingly points to one set of victims: the Palestinians.

Does the movement care? Not so much, it appears. BDS leaders called the SodaStream move a clear-cut victory. The price to the Palestinians is one that the movement is willing to accept.

Leaders of the BDS movement claim the company’s withdrawal from the West Bank just east of Jerusalem is a big win for the Palestinian cause. Although hundreds of Palestinians will soon be out of jobs, BDS leaders say it is worth it.

“This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” said Omar Bar­ghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement. Israel should not be allowed to exploit its occupation by operating factories in Palestinian lands, he said.

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This “odiously complicit Israeli company,” however, had previously employed as many as 600 Palestinians, paying above market wages. But it has received permits for only 130 Palestinian workers for its Negev factory, and those individuals will spend four hours commuting to and from work each day.

Ali Jafar, a Palestinian who worked at SodaStream for two years, had a different story to tell when the AP visited the “horrible” Israeli company. “All the people who wanted to close [SodaStream’s West Bank factory] are mistaken,” Jafar said. “They didn’t take into consideration the families.”

Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid also spoke to a Palestinian named Basel, who lost his job at SodaStream. “Basel used to earn NIS 6,000 per month at SodaStream; now, under the PA, only NIS 1,450 per month is available,” he wrote, adding, “The BDS movement is at the forefront leading the boycott, and as such it is hurting Palestinians a lot more than it is hurting Israel.”

With these sacrifices, the Palestinians must surely be gaining in other ways, right? A look at the list of “successes” on the BDS website, however, bears no relation to its stated goals of improving Palestinian rights. None of the successes it lists has any direct benefit to the Palestinians at all. The only success the movement sees is harm to Israel.

So maybe it’s not SodaStream that’s odious and complicit in crimes against the Palestinians. It’s the BDS movement itself that’s proving hateful and bent on destruction, irrespective of its victims.

This article was originally published by HonestReporting.

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