I heard about the horrible effects BDS boycotts could have on Palestinian workers when Bassem Eid and Erez Zadok of Aviv Peace-Impact visited my college in 2016. The things they talked about back then are still relevant today. But yet BDS is still calling for boycotts of companies with factories in the West Bank:
Israelis & Palestinians work for economic coexistence in the West Bank as BDS fights their efforts from overseas, which was the topic of discussion at a panel held at CSI.
Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Activist, and Erez Zadok,Fund Manager for Aviv Peace – Impact, visited CSI on March 31,2016 to educate students on the benefits of Israeli-Palestinian economic co-existence and the challenges it has been facing. According to NPR, the main coalition trying to move Israeli companies out of the West Bank is BDS. These efforts by BDS hinders the work of people like Zadok, who invest in West Bank companies and try to build peace through economic relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.
Zadok explained that economic co-existence in the West Bank benefits the Palestinians.
“I found out there are 50,000 Palestinians working for Israeli companies in the West Bank,” said Zadok. “These 50,000 Palestinians make five times more than the Palestinians that work in Palestinian factories.”
Zadok met with SodaStream and toured the factory that was in the West Bank.
“The factory was in a small village in Jerusalem. Among the 1,000 people who work there, half of them were Palestinians, half of them were Israelis and of the Israelis, part of them were Arab, and part of them were Jews,” said Zadok. “When I asked the CEO of SodaStream what do you do he said ‘Well, we make peace, and we also make soda.'”
Zadok further explained he didn’t understand BDS’s attacks against SodaStream, a company that had a factory in the West Bank and employed Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and Arabs.
“I was amazed when I knew BDS was going after this company,” Zadok said. “You should think such a company should get a reward that it would want to make peace in this land.”
Eid pointed out that BDS is not in Palestine, but only exists in Europe and America.
“The Palestinians are much more aware of their situation than any other organization located in the USA, Europe or elsewhere,” said Eid. “Such an organization like BDS is not only trying to cause damage to the Israeli economy but also to the Palestinians.”
According to Eid, Palestinians in Palestine don’t know what BDS is nor do they support the movement’s ideology because it doesn’t benefit them.
Zadok pointed out that when BDS pressures companies to move out of the West Bank, in the end, it is the Palestinians that lose jobs, and Israelis are hired instead. According to the Jerusalem Post, the BDS movement has not had the devastating impact on Israel’s economy it hoped to have. Israel’s trade to places such as Asia has improved. Zadok points out that though BDS tries to pressure companies to leave the West Bank, most have stayed. SodaStream finally moved out of the West Bank due to needing a larger factory, not because of BDS.
Zadok says even though Palestinians are attacking Israelis every day on the street in the workplace everyone gets the same benefits, pay, and respect therefore building bridges and no one fights. Palestinians have knives and other sharp tools at factories and attack no one, but knife attacks from Palestinians and Arab‐Israelis happen frequently on the street in Israel. According to the Jewish Press in September- October 2015 there were 48 stabbing attacks in Israel as part of the “stabbing intifada.” None of these incidents happened in factories.
“One thing that bothers me the most about BDS is that unwillingness to admit that there is a Jewish or Israeli narrative to this conflict,” said Amy Posner, Executive director at College of Staten Island Hillel – CUNY CSI. “So when you don’t admit that someone else has a narrative you can’t come up with some sort of cooperation.”