A controversial fizzy drinks company whose factory was located in a Jewish settlement on the West Bank was forced to close due to “racism and anti-Semitism,” its chief executive has said.
Daniel Birnbaum, boss of SodaStream, employs 600 Palestinians but his company has still been targeted by boycotters. He says he will now up sticks and move to the Negev desert in Israel’s south, after a campaign to evict them.
“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 said, referring to efforts by Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement, which said its pressure was behind the decision to move.
“They’re mistaken,” he said. “They didn’t take into consideration the families. SodaStream should have been encouraged in the West Bank if [the BDS movement] truly cared about the Palestinian people.”
SodaStream has made headlines before when, in 2014, actress Scarlett Johansson resigned from her role as Oxfam ambassador, after the charity criticised her decision to advertise the brand.
Shortly after its high-profile targeting by BDS, which also accused managers of paying Palestinian workers far less than their Israeli counterparts, the company’s revenues nosedived and it was forced to relocate.