Posted by Curt on 7 February, 2014 at 4:48 pm. 1 comment.


Daniel Schwammenthal:

In a sane world, Israeli company SodaStream would be a poster child for corporate responsibility. Of the 1,300 staff in its West Bank plant, 450 are Israeli Arabs and 500 are Palestinians. All workers receive equal pay, which in the case of the Palestinians is several times the average salary they would normally make.

Here is a real-life example of coexistence, a place where Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims, Druze and Christians work together in peace. To boot, they assemble a product that, by turning tap water into fizzy drinks, cuts the production of environmentally damaging beverage containers.

Alas, this world is not sane, certainly not when it comes to discussions of Israel. Simply because one of its 20-plus factories is in the West Bank, anti-Israeli activists have been targeting SodaStream and its celebrity spokesperson, American actress Scarlett Johansson.

No matter that the factory is in a location that would most likely remain Israeli in a future peace agreement. And if it became part of Palestine, even better for the new state’s tax revenues. But in the destructive world of supposedly pro-Palestinian activism, this facility must be boycotted, those 500 Palestinians and their families be damned.

Unfortunately, the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is no longer a fringe phenomenon. Over the past few months, a number of European companies, such as Dutch water company Vitens and Denmark’s Danske Bank, have announced their divestment from certain Israeli companies due to their involvement in the West Bank.

It is quite a spectacle to see European companies suggest that it’s unethical to do business with Israelis, while so many of their colleagues are flocking for new deals in Iran, the land of public stoning of adulterers and hanging of gays—but I digress.

European governments, such as those in The Hague and Copenhagen, that now claim to be shocked by and opposed to such boycotts, have in fact significantly assisted the mainstreaming of BDS. The European Union and its member states have long funded a number of non-profits that support the movement. What’s more, last year, Brussels published new guidelines to prevent any EU funding from benefiting projects in the West Bank’s settlements.

These guidelines were particularly strict with respect to financial instruments: Any Israeli bank with operations in the settlements was originally excluded from EU funding, even if the requested loan was meant for a project within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The logic was that EU money would otherwise free up the bank’s funding for activities within the settlements.

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