Why is the BDS movement really calling for a boycott against SodaStream?

In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and in the days since, the SodaStream controversy has gotten a lot of attention. So at the risk of beating a dead horse, I’ll share some thoughts on the matter.

The reason there’s any controversy to begin with regarding SodaStream is that the Palestinian BDS movement made it part of its anti-Israel mission to try to get as many people as possible to boycott SodaStream.  But why is the BDS movement really calling for this boycott?

Is the boycott because SodaStream operates one of its factories in the Israeli city of Ma’ale Adumim, and the BDS movement thinks Israel illegally controls that area? Logically, that doesn’t seem to fit. Every proposed map for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement has had Ma’ale Adumim as part of Israel. One would think that if Israel didn’t have rights to Ma’ale Adumim, the Palestinians would at least propose an agreement that would give them control of it. Since they haven’t done so, SodaStream operating there doesn’t seem to be the BDS movement’s real motive.

Does the BDS movement encourage boycotting SodaStream because it thinks these actions will bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians? This doesn’t seem logical either. Not only is SodaStream a soda company that doesn’t have the ability to unilaterally create peace, but even Israel, which is a state, doesn’t have the ability to unilaterally create peace. Peace can only come from Israel and the Palestinians working together. Israel would love to have peace, but will only agree to a proposal that it feels will ensure the safety and security of its people. If an Israel-based company were to fail and shutdown, would that make Israel change its standards for an acceptable peace agreement? Of course it wouldn’t. The success or failure of Israeli companies is unrelated to Israel’s need to ensure its people would be safe and secure in a given proposal. Also, SodaStream itself is actually a beautiful model for peace.  It employs Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians who peacefully work side-by-side. The more companies like this successfully operate, the more Israelis and Palestinians will think of each other as people, co-workers, and maybe even friends, instead of enemies. That is the kind of thinking that people in the Middle East need in order to make peace possible. So not only does peace not seem to be the BDS movement’s real motive, but a boycott against SodaStream might actually make peace less likely.

Is the BDS movement promoting a boycott against SodaStream because it thinks these actions will improve life for Palestinians? This too doesn’t seem logical. SodaStream employs a thousand Palestinians, pays them double the average wage, and even built a mosque on-site to accommodate their religious needs. If the BDS movement’s boycott succeeds and causes SodaStream to go out of business, a thousand Palestinians will lose good jobs. Therefore not only do the BDS movement’s actions not help the Palestinians, but they are actually contrary to the interests of the Palestinians.

Does the BDS movement want to boycott SodaStream because it thinks Israel is a violator of human rights and Israel-based companies should be punished? It’s possible it thinks that, especially with all the bad press Israel tends to get. But the BDS movement should really know better.  Not only does Israel provide its own citizens with human rights, not only does Israel provide aide to those in need outside of Israel, but Israel even aids those who attack it. Just a few months ago in November, an Israeli hospital treated the one-year-old granddaughter of Hamas’ Prime Minister. Yes, the same Hamas that has taken credit for countless terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Not only that, but the Jewish state of Israel gives Arabs more rights than any of the Arab countries in the area.  1.6 million Arabs live in Israel, and they choose to do so partly because Israel gives them political and religious freedoms that they don’t get in Arab countries in the area. Israel also gives women rights they don’t get anywhere else in the Middle East. Israel is not a human rights violator.  And even if the BDS movement thinks Israel’s human rights record isn’t as good as it should be, if the boycott were really aimed to combat human rights violators, it wouldn’t start with Israel. It would start with Syria or Hamas who massacre innocent civilians including their own people.

So why is the BDS movement really calling for a boycott against SodaStream? Clearly, the answer is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a type of hatred, and hatred causes people to harm others in ways they can’t logically justify and in ways that are not in their own best interest.  SodaStream is one of many examples of the BDS movement trying to harm the one and only Jewish state and groups that are connected to it, for no reason other than the fact that it’s the Jewish state. This is anti-Semitism.

The BDS movement is smart and its propaganda draws many people, including some Jews, into its anti-Semitic mission against the Jewish state of Israel. Some people support the BDS movement without even realizing that they’re supporting anti-Semitism. Therefore, it’s important for the Jewish community and the world as a whole to recognize the BDS movement’s mission for what it is, and not allow it to be any more socially acceptable or PC to be anti-Israel than it is to be anti-Semitic.

About the Author
Noah Aronin is a Modern Orthodox Jew who lives in Riverdale, NY with his wife and two sons. He earned MA degrees in Jewish Education and Jewish Communal Service from Towson University and has been serving the Jewish community professionally in both fields for more than ten years. Currently, Noah is a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School and Rabbinic Intern at Hofstra Hillel.