Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum lashed out at the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on Thursday, after the company was forced to move from Mishor Adumim to the Negev for financial reasons.
“It’s propaganda. It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s anti-Semitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of,” Birnbaum stated to the Associated Press.
Birnbaum further accused the movement of harming Palestinian Arabs and hindering industrial and social progress.
“SodaStream should have been encouraged in the West Bank [Judea-Samaria – ed.] if (the BDS movement) truly cared about the Palestinian people,” he added.
Sodastream announced the move in October, citing a 9% fall in sales at the Mishor Adumim factory. It said the plant closure would “improve the operational efficiency” of a group that has been listed on the New York stock exchange since 2010. Another factory in northern Israel will also close, the group said on its website.
The factory was a “model of integration,” employing 500 Palestinians, 450 Arab Israelis and 350 Israeli Jews on the same salaries and with the same social security benefits.
Palestinian employees “receive salaries four or five times that of the average wage in the territories controlled by Palestinian authorities”, it has said.
But the factory has been the focus of calls by Palestinian Arabs and leftists for a worldwide boycott of the firm – and at least one prominent BDS activist has called the move to the Negev a “victory.”
“This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti stated.
Sodastream has already caved to the BDS pressure once, recently announcing it would change its labels from “Made in Israel” to “Made in the West Bank” following complaints from leftists in the US.