Recently there was some highly publicized controversy surrounding SodaStream.
Before discussing an issue not addressed during the flap, here’s a quick recap:
SodaStream is an Israeli based company that has a unique product allowing the consumer to turn plain water into flavored carbonated soda. Aside from eliminating trips to the store to purchase bottles or cans of soda, there is no need to dispose of them. Thus, Sodastream offers convenience, cost savings and an environmental advantage. However, this is not an attempt to convince anyone to purchase their product.
The controversy has nothing to do with their product. What they offer is great. The controversy stems from the location of their manufacturing facility in Israel, which is where their corporate headquarters is.
The manufacturing facility is located 20 minutes east of Jerusalem, in Judea/Samaria, commonly referred to as the “West Bank,” or “Occupied Territories.”
Additional controversy arose recently when Scarlett Johanssan became SodaStream’s spokesperson, which brought criticism from Oxfam, with whom she had been associated with for some time. Oxfam is a leading anti-Israel organization and part of the BDS movement [Boycott, Divest, Sanction]. According to them, “…businesses such as SodaStream…further the ongoing poverty…of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.” Subsequent to Oxfam’s criticism Johanssan severed her relationship with them.
A closer look at the facts contradicts Oxfam’s accusation.
SodaStream employs roughly 1,300 workers, 500 of which are Palestinian Arabs who live in Judea/Samaria [West Bank]. The wages of the factory workers are 3 – 4 times higher than the average worker in the area. Arab employees who have been interviewed say they are happy to have such high paying jobs. According to Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream’s President, “critics should visit my company and see for themselves.” He says “we are turning swords into plowshares.” Indeed, the very building the factory is in used to produce munitions for the IDF.
The plant provides separate prayer rooms for Muslims and Jews.
On the surface what SodaStream is doing appears to be quite positive. They’ve got a unique product, which is environmentally friendly, and convenient to use. Plus, Arabs and Jews are working side by side and being paid excellent wages. It all sounds great.Yet, if we dig below the surface there may be cause for concern.
Reason for Concern
The average person may think separate pray rooms seems like a very accommodating scenario. However, what about people who take their relationship with the Almighty very seriously?
For example, someone who sees the G-d of the Bible and Allah as two separate and distinct deities recognizes there are serious theological and eschatological conflicts between Judaism and Islam. All one has to do is look at what the Quran says to realize this.
Some quotes include: “Allah turned the Sabbath breaking Jews into Apes,” [2:65-66] or “Jews are the greediest of all humankind….they are going to hell,” [2:96] or “Don’t take Jews [or Christians] for friends.” [5:51]
Plus, an honest look at Islam’s eschatology confirms the liquidation of both Jews and Christians is required for their collective salvation to take place. Should all this be ignored?
I understand some may want to dismiss these concerns and hold up SodaStream as an example of forging improved relations. Having said that, should society summarily dismiss the fact that among Jews and Arabs a significant percentage feel strongly about divine obedience? If one understands the reality of this, then one also must realize what SodaStream is doing has potential downsides.
For example, suppose there are Arabs who are using their wages foster terrorism, or giving a portion to others who are? How ironic is it to consider there may be Muslim employees who are praying to a god that requires the destruction of the very people paying their salaries? Moreover, would it not be even more so, if these same Muslims were to launch a terror attack against SodaStream?
I am not predicting, or suggesting this is going to happen. However, we cannot ignore the fact there are those who walk among us who are committed to jihad. This is an undeniable fact. Further, when one realizes jihad is theologically based and has nothing to do with living standards, it becomes even more important to monitor what happens at SodaStream.
Dan Calic is a writer, history student and speaker. See additional articles on his Facebook page