Arlene Bridges Samuels
In Essentials, Unity

Advocacy Gone Amuck

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When shoppers walk into Bed Bath & Beyond, Wal Mart, and other retail stores, they don’t have a clue that the SodaStream they want to buy has a checkered history. They don’t know that home carbonation dates back to 1903 in England and that Buckingham Palace enjoyed one of the first home carbonation machines. More importantly, they don’t know that Israeli innovation and manufacturing revived the gadget that became SodaStream, a poster child for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement 4 years ago. Eventually worth $3.2 billion, Pepsico’s acquisition of SodaStream reminded me once again about the one-sided thinking of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. BDS activists promote an advocacy which boomerangs on the Palestinians whom they claim to help. It’s advocacy gone amuck.

I venture to say that many well-meaning people jump on the BDS bandwagon yet neglect context or facts. They simply react emotionally to Palestinians whom they consider victimized by Israelis, rather than by their own dictators. The BDS movement began in 2005 on a foundation of lies that compared Israel to South Africa’s Apartheid. It mattered not that Israel is the only nation in the world that I know of which transported black African communities to freedom rather than to slavery. And that Israel’s population is a tapestry of diversity woven into a small nation.

In 2014, the BDS movement targeted SodaStream’s factory located in the West Bank. At the time around 600 Palestinians held jobs and then lost them in 2015 when SodaStream moved its factory to the Negev amidst a huge campaign of protest and disinformation. In 2016 Mahmoud Nawajaa, Palestinian BDS National Committee Coordinator in Ramallah, dismissed the plight of Palestinian livelihoods this way: “The loss of the Palestinian jobs at SodaStream is part of the price that should be paid in the process of ending the occupation.” I’m guessing the 600 SodaStream employees were not polled on their willingness to “pay the price.” They would much prefer a steady job to support their families.

SodaStream is only one of the BDS movement’s disinformation and economic warfare campaigns on multiple fronts. Yet, the push back is increasing. Now, more than half of the states along with US Congress, Christian, and Jewish organizations have changed the forward motion of the gone-amuck BDS bandwagon by using smart advocacy. South Carolina’s legislature led the way by passing the first anti-BDS law in the United States. By the way, Nikki Haley then-Governor of South Carolina signed the law and now is deservedly the US Ambassador to the United Nations. US Congress has passed anti-BDS legislation supported by both Democrats and Republicans and is keeping the issue on its agenda for possible future legislation. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee with its Jewish, African American, Christian and Hispanic activists-along with Christians United for Israel, Israel Allies Foundation, and many other Christian and Jewish organizations- proactively recruited its activists and interfered with the progress of this dangerous form of anti-Semitism.

Legislation is vital and citizens advocating with state legislatures and US Congress helped derail the BDS train for now, but we must continue our advocacy not only with congress and state legislatures but in personal encounters. When I run into those who support the BDS movement, I use a friendly form of civil discourse drawing from a few questions such as,” Do you have a mobile phone? A computer? Do you enjoy eating cherry tomatoes? Do you use WAZE for navigation? Do you find your flash drive convenient at work? Does your car have a Mobileye safety system?”

If they reply “Yes” to any of these, here’s my response, “If you sincerely support the BDS movement, then you better start listing your items for sale. What you own is Israeli-developed…

and by the way, if you have SodaStream, list that for sale too!”

About the Author
Arlene Bridges Samuels is a pioneer in pro-Israel Christian advocacy for more than two decades in positions with Israel Always and Earl Cox, Israel's Goodwill Ambassador to Christians and Jews, SE Region Outreach Director at American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA's project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Since 2020, she is the weekley featured columnist at The Christian Broadcasting Network Israel, and frequent Guest Columnist for Allisrael News and The Jerusalem Connection Report. Arlene co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited. Traveling to Israel since 1990, by invitation she attends the GPO Christian Media Summit and serves on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina.