News / Middle East

    Palestinians Lose Jobs as Israeli Company Relocates

    Palestinians Lose Jobs as Israeli Company Movesi
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    March 01, 2016 5:10 AM
    An Israeli company that manufactures devices for making fizzy drinks at home was forced to lay off its Palestinian workers after relocating from the West Bank to Israel because the Israeli government refused to give them work permits. Some Israeli businesses are leaving the occupied Palestinian territories under the pressure of worldwide criticism and a Palestinian-led boycott campaign. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, Palestinians do not necessarily benefit from their departure.
    Zlatica Hoke

    An Israeli company that manufactures devices for making fizzy drinks at home was forced to lay off its Palestinian workers after relocating from the West Bank to Israel because the Israeli government refused to give them work permits. Some Israeli businesses are leaving the occupied Palestinian territories under the pressure of worldwide criticism and a Palestinian-led boycott campaign.

    The SodaStream plant in the southern Israeli town of Levahim was forced to let go of the last 74 of its Palestinian employees Monday. They came with the company after its West Bank plant closed in October.

    "There is no hope in Palestine. There is little work; we can't be happy there like we were happy here," said Anas Abdul Wadud Ghayth, a Palestinian who worked for SodaStream.

    The management said it would fight the government's decision.

    "If the government of Israel does not allow the Palestinians to get to their jobs, I will bring those jobs to the Palestinians. That is not a threat. It is a fact," said Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream’s CEO.

    The company employed about 500 Palestinians in its West Bank plant, but decided to close it after a Palestinian-led call for the boycott of Israeli products proved effective.

    "The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign is one of the most peaceful and non-violent forms of resistance of the Palestinian people to achieve freedom, justice and peace. It's not against Jewish or Israeli people; it's against apartheid, against occupation, against the policy of the Israeli government which is preventing peace here. And like it has succeeded against apartheid in South Africa at one point in time, it will succeed in Palestine," said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian legislator.

    The movement has its supporters worldwide. Last year, the European Union imposed a labeling regulation requiring Israeli companies to clearly mark whether their products were made in the occupied territories.

    FILE - Employees pack boxes of SodaStream appliances at its factory in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim Jan. 28, 2014.
    FILE - Employees pack boxes of SodaStream appliances at its factory in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim Jan. 28, 2014.

    Israel resists BDS

    The Israeli government is calling such moves anti-Semitic and is launching its own campaign to suppress them, including an effort to bring U.S. celebrities to Israel.

    "We are inviting the Oscar nominees, and those whom they decide to take along with them, for a dreamy visit in Israel," said Amir Halevi, the director general of Israel’s tourism ministry.

    The invite has been fiercely resisted by a U.S. group campaigning for an end to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

    "We think it's important at this time that they (the celebrities) think about the issue of Palestine as well and not take the bait and not take the trip to act as apartheid lackeys in this casting call by the Israeli government," said Yousef Munayer of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation.

    Even some Jewish groups support economic pressure on Israel to halt the construction of settlements. But last month, the British government banned the public sector boycotts of Israeli suppliers, giving a boost to Israel's battle against a Palestinian-led international boycott campaign.

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    by: Sensi
    March 02, 2016 2:33 AM
    "The company employed about 500 Palestinians in its West Bank plant, but decided to close it after a Palestinian-led call for the boycott of Israeli products proved effective."

    That's an unsubstantiated if not debunked claim entertained by part of our so-called "free press" -not so subtly trying to shift the blame for these Palestinians layoffs on the BDS movement- despite the statements of this company very own officials! Shameful yet so usual.

    "[SodaStream's CEO] Birnbaum denies that the BDS campaign had any effect on the decision to move the factory, saying the company needed more space. He blames the job losses entirely on a "tangled" Israeli bureaucracy, adding that if Israeli leaders were truly interested in promoting peace, they would have found a way to grant permits to all the Palestinian employees." (AP)

    by: Don Jeep from: Cebu Philippines
    March 02, 2016 2:31 AM
    Europe boycott poorly thought out. There is plenty of room outside of the West Bank for Israel to move many plants. It will only hurt the Muslim workers as they will not be able to follow their jobs. So who does the boycott hurt.
    The world boycotted South Africa to force regime change. Who did it hurt in the long run. Black South Africa went from a first rate modern country to a 3rd rate country that has trouble keeping the lights on. Yes that boycott really worked. Now the followers of Mandella all have very large bank accounts in Switserland and the rest of the people have a hard time finding work. But it's ok, is is now a black on black crime

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 01, 2016 1:30 PM
    "There’s no hope in Palestine…; we can't be happy there like we were happy here," Monologue Palestinian enclave cannot bring peace/happiness. Despite its masks, no totalitarian society (like Islamic/Arab countries) can have real peace/happiness for its people. Societies are better mixed. Failure of this between Israel/Palestinians blamed on Europe/Palestinians.

    This is boomerang! Now they’re losing jobs which their extremist Hamas cannot provide while the international community assisted by the Palestinian boycott team and EU should take bulk of the blame for Palestinians losing their jobs whose major benefits go beyond the earnings to the happiness they afford which could in turn foster greater interaction/peace/cooperation in the search for security in the region.

    It’s wrong to compare Israel’s relations with the Palestinians with apartheid South Africa, because they have no correlation. Instead the friction here is fostered by the refusal of the Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, the land-owners. This becomes yardstick to understand what’s going to happen in Europe soon when the so-called migrant population has settled in – they will try to unsettle the population as they’re doing in Israel and CAR right now.
    In Response

    by: dogday from: US
    March 01, 2016 2:45 PM
    Godwin is a little out of touch. "Peace" with Israel means giving up all of Palestinian land, period. That's why there is no peace.

    As for BDS -- this is a worldwide peaceful movement like the movement that impacted Apartheid in S. Africa. It is inevitable that there will be social disruptions as BDS moves forward. In S. Africa, the argument was made that boycott hurt black Africans as well. While this is true in passing, the goals are worth the disruptions as is plain from the S. African experience.

    Note also: The USA was the last country to sign on to the boycott of S. Africa and will be the last to sign on to this boycott as well. This is because of the US's long experience with racism, which it is unable to put behind itself currently.

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