Whilst it’s not clear if SodaStream’s decision to close their plant in the West Bank town of Mishor Adumim was undertaken due to pressure from BDS activists, the reaction by the BDS Movement to the company’s decision to move production of the fizzy drink makers to a new location in the Israeli Negev – placing the employment of 500 Palestinians in jeopardy – speaks volumes about the political extremism of the movement.
The Guardian’s Middle East editor Ian Black wrote the following on SodaStream’s relocation in an Oct. 29th column:
Palestinian activists have hailed a decision by SodaStream International, an Israeli-owned soft drink company, to close its controversial factory in a settlement in the occupied West Bank, calling the decision a victory for the campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.
The company had defended itself as employing 500 Palestinians, along with 450 Israeli Arab and 350 Israeli Jewish citizens, and insisted that closure for political reasons would benefit no one.
But the BDS statement said: “Any suggestion that SodaStream is employing Palestinians in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land out of the kindness of its heart is ludicrous.”
Naturally, neither the Guardian’s Ian Black, nor the BDS Movement, bothered to explain how the closing of a factory which employs (at wages far above the average in the West Bank) the largest number of Palestinians outside the Palestinian Authority could reasonably be characterized as a victory for Palestinians.
Indeed, additional evidence attesting to the BDS Movement’s true motivations can be found in this passage near the end of Black’s article:
It’s [the BDS Movement] statement said: “Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township [see footnote] in the Naqab [Negev] desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights.”
The statement is referring to draft legislation in the Knesset last year (since shelved), on Bedouin development, which would have seen some 20,000-30,000 Israeli Bedouin relocated from unrecognized and undeveloped shanty towns to officially recognized and developed towns in the Negev, including the city of Rahat. Those who moved were to receive financial compensation as well as free land.
So, the BDS statement is in effect saying that, by virtue of the fact that the new SodaStream factory will be located some 9 km from one of the towns which would become home to thousands of Bedouins (in the context of a plan to relocate Bedouin to developed, planned communities), the company is somehow “complicit” in human rights violations. Even though the company will be moving its factory to within Israel’s pre-67 boundaries, BDS will not end their anti-SodaStream campaign.
The broader point should be familiar to anyone with even a basic understanding of the malevolence of the BDS Movement. BDS seeks the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties”, goals which undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination. BDS leaders have made their opposition to the continued existence to the Jewish state (within any borders) quite clear.
The promoters of the SodaStream boycott are so zealous in desire to isolate, delegitimize, and demonize Israel, that they are unburdened by the fact they’ve harmed a thriving factory, one which provides a livelihood to hundreds of Palestinian workers and has served as a rare model of co-existence between Arabs and Jews.
Of course, the definition of an ‘extremist’ is one for whom the real-world moral consequences of his or her actions are of little concern, especially in comparison to the imperative of maintaining fealty to a rigid – and often destructive – political ideology.