Factory was slammed by BDS campaign for operating in an Israeli settlement near Jerusalem
The Sodastream decision to potentially close their West Bank manufacturing plant has nothing to do with the BDS campaign that launched a mass boycott of the company due to their operating in the West Bank, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said on Wednesday.
A few months back, the company came into the spotlight when Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson endorsed the Israeli company, whose West Bank plant is in an Israeli settlement.
The endorsement was followed by a backlash against Johansson and a boycott of SodaStream by BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions) supporters in the US.
Birnbaum called the boycott organizers “financial terrorists”, and insisted that they have had no influence on the decision whether or not to close the West Bank factory.
“The considerations will be purely financial, and do not include the European boycott on manufacturing in the territories,” said Birnbaum. “Nor [will they include] the various calls to boycott products of the company because of its location in Ma’aleh Adumim. The boycott is a nuisance, but does not cause serious financial damage. We are not giving in to the boycott. We are Zionist.”
“We won’t give in to terror,” he added.
Haaretz newspaper reported that the closure would be because of an expansion of a new factory in the town of Lehavim.
The company faced more bad publicity shortly after the Johansson incident when they fired 60 of their employees over a dispute that the employees did not receive enough food to continue working during the Ramadan holiday which requires fasting during the daylight hours.
WAC-MAAN, the trade union representing the Palestinian workers at the plant, said that workers complained that the food they received was insufficient in the evening shift when the breakfast, or iftar, occurs.
“Sixty workers, who are prohibited from bringing food from home because of Jewish dietary laws, found themselves without enough food after the 16-hour fast,” Maan’s Jerusalem coordinator, Erez Wagner, said.
“SodaStream’s CEO, Daniel Birnbaum, likes to present his company as an oasis of coexistence between [Jews and Arabs], but in reality he acts totally differently,” Wagner said.
SodaStream released a statement saying that the workers were fired for calling a wildcat strike without reasonable cause.