News / Middle East

Boycott Against Israel Impacts Palestinian Workers

Economic Boycott Against Israel Impacts Palestinian Workersi
X
February 18, 2014 1:56 PM
The Israeli government has announced it will allocate $100 million to counter a growing international boycott against Israeli organizations operating in the Palestinian territories. The issue was highlighted recently by a debate over the maker of a popular soft-drink machine operating in the disputed territories. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from the West Bank town of al-Azariya.
Economic Boycott Against Israel Impacts Palestinian Workers
Scott Bobb
The Israeli government has announced it will allocate $100 million to counter a growing international boycott against Israeli organizations operating in the Palestinian territories.

The issue was highlighted recently by a debate over the maker of a popular soft-drink machine operating in the disputed territories.
 
Targeting SodaStream

A chilly dawn is breaking over al-Azariya, outside Jerusalem. Workers gather in the dark waiting for the bus to take them to their jobs at the SodaStream factory in the nearby Jewish settlement, Ma'ale Adumim.
 
SodaStream builds machines that make seltzer, or soda water, for personal use. The machines are popular. But the workers are worried.
 
Jewish settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by much of the international community. As a result, Israeli enterprises operating here are the target of a growing movement called Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS).
 
Ahmed—who does not want his real name used—arrives early to take the first bus. He's been at SodaStream for eight months and likes his job. He says it pays three times what he would earn working for a Palestinian company and that conditions are good. However, production is down and his work hours have been cut.
 
"I do not support this boycott," he said. "It's not good because the workers are Arabs and there will be no jobs and we will sitting at home. Secondly, it is the big people who are fighting, not the workers, the young people."
 
SodaStream says its employs more than 500 Palestinians as well as Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs.  
 
"They work together here," said C.E.O. Daniel Birnbaum. "We have about 1200, 1300 people working in this facility in harmony and peace. And we are very proud of being able to be here and to contribute in our way to the co-existence and hopefully to the peace in this region."

Growing pressure
 
SodaStream faces growing competition from large, multi-national beverage companies, which have been interested in the growing popularity of the company's product.
 
At the same time, the company is under growing pressure from the BDS movement which is making gains.
 
A large Danish pension fund, German banks and several U.S. academic groups recently announced they were severing ties with Israeli partners that operate in the territories.
 
In addition, there is a growing movement to require special labels on Israeli exports from the Palestinian territories. This would make it easier for consumers to boycott Israeli products made in the Palestinian territories.
 
Israeli news media reported Tuesday that several multinational construction companies have withdrawn their bids to build two new ports in Israel, citing pressure from domestic shareholders and activists or a fear of hurting business interests in the Arab world.
 
These developments worry the Israeli government.

Economic hit
 
Finance Minister Yair Lapid last month told an international conference in Tel Aviv that a European boycott would reduce Israeli exports by one-fifth, shrinking the Israeli domestic product by several billion dollarsor more than one percentcausing the loss of 10,000 jobs. Europe is a major partner, accounting for about one-third of Israel's foreign trade.
 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday told a gathering of world Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that any talk of a boycott in Europe was an outrage and called its advocates "classical anti-Semites in modern garb."

Invoking the boycotts of Jewish businesses in Nazi-led Germany prior to World War II, Netanyahu said, "In the past, anti-Semites boycotted Jewish businesses and today they call for the boycott of the Jewish state….I think we have to fight them."

Palestinian organizers of the BDS movement say they are working with various groups, including Israeli ones, to pressure the Israeli government to change its policies.
 
Some groups choose to boycott only products made by Jewish settlers in the Palestinian territories. Others advocate a general boycott of all Israeli products.
 
The movement has also succeeded in pressuring some international entertainers to cancel performances in Israel.
 
The Jewish-American actress and singer, Scarlet Johannson, recently had to choose between her role as a celebrity ambassador for SodaStream and for the British charity group, Oxfam.

SodaStream's 2014 Super Bowl commercial featuring actress Scarlett Johansson.SodaStream's 2014 Super Bowl commercial featuring actress Scarlett Johansson.

Oxfam supports the BDS movement against Israel. Johannson resigned from Oxfam and said the boycott works against peace and understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.
 
Eyeing long-term gains

Many of the Sodastream's Palestinian workers are too worried to speak to the media. They say privately that they oppose the Jewish settlements but feel the boycott unfairly targets their families and livelihoods.
 
Mahmoud—again, not his real name—has worked at SodaStream for several years, even though he has a degree in banking and finance.
 
"We have no other work but at Sodastream," he said. "If there was another job outside the settlements, we would work there. But all of Palestine is our land. So we ask them to leave all the land, not just the settlement."
 
Omar Barghouti, a local BDS leader, acknowledges the movement hurts Palestinians, but he says Palestinians may have to suffer in the near-term in order to obtain their rights in the long-term.
 
"We are under Israel's control," Barghouti said. "We'll suffer as Israel suffers from the boycott. But the entire Palestinian civil society has said we are ready to pay that price to gain freedom, justice and equality."
 
His words offer little consolation to the workers from al-Azariya who, as the sun rises, board the bus for SodaStream, hoping to return in 12 hours after a full shift, rather than in a few hours following a work-day shortened by sanctions.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: annie robbins from: SF bay area
February 18, 2014 3:22 PM
Scott Bobb, Oxfam does not supports the BDS movement against Israel. Maybe you could do some of your own research instead of repeating allegations drummed up by pro Israeli pr specialists. a quote from a spokesperson from Oxfam maybe, or didn't you even bother contacting them. You should issue a retraction. your article sounds like a commercial for sodastream and Israel.

"Jewish settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by much of the international community. "

Since you are writing on a website called "Voice of America" you might mention our very own US State Department considers the settlements illegitimate. And the reason our embassy is not in Jerusalem is because Israel unilaterally annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem against international law.

Balance Scott, balance.


by: Seamorgh21 from: Utah
February 18, 2014 2:35 PM
So I'm sure your next article will be to immediately lift all sanctions on Iran since average Iranians are the ones suffering from these sactions. I won't hold my breath Bob.
BTW, supporters of the Apartheid regime of South Africa made the exact same arguments in the 80's that you are making now. Great company.


by: charlie from: california
February 18, 2014 11:18 AM
Invading Iraq impacted Iraqi civilians. If we had bombed Dachau it would have impacted people being slowly murdered. Overthrowing the Cambodian government to install a pro-western junta ultimately impacted a million plus Cambodians into violent deaths. The Civil War impacted millions. Doing anything impacts someone. And doing nothing can impact them even more. Impact is a dumb modern replacement for affect. Makes it sounds like a digestive problem.

In Response

by: PermReader
February 25, 2014 12:13 PM
You`ve invented the new argument of the justification of American indifference towards the Jewish persecutions,dear.The Palestinian problems is the "digestive problem" for the anti-semite, happy with his paper justification.

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid