The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #153638   Message #3599845
Posted By: bobad
09-Feb-14 - 03:56 PM
Thread Name: BS: BDS of Israel 'Gathering Weight.'
Subject: RE: BS: BDS of Israel 'Gathering Weight.'
Meanwhile, Palestinians who work at the factory tell the International Business Times that they are just trying to make a living.

Yasmin Abu Markhia, 22, is proudly Palestinian. When asked about her nationality, she lifted her sleeve to show a Palestinian-flag bracelet.

Abu Markhia checks and stacks the carbon dioxide canisters that go inside SodaStream machines. She has worked at the factory for just four months. Considering she's a Palestinian living in Jerusalem but working in the occupied West Bank, the political storm is far from her mind. She said she sees no conflict in working at SodaStream: "We are human, we earn good money and the work is good."

SodaStream Yasmin Abu Markhia Yasmin Abu Markhia, a Palestinian worker at SodaStream in the occupied West Bank, proudly shows her Palestinian bracelet. Kate Shuttleworth

Zafid Abu Aballah, 28, is an Israeli Arab who has been a machine operator at the factory for four years. He earns $2,000 a month, significantly more than the Palestinian Authority minimum wage of 1,450 Israeli shekels ($377).

"I have an Israeli passport. If the firm closed I could find another job, but Palestinians would not be able to. There are no jobs for Palestinians in the West Bank," he said. "This is political, but the people here just want to work and live, they don't have an interest in the politics between Palestine and Israel."

Palestinian Nabil Basharat, 40, from a village near Ramallah, has worked for SodaStream for four years and is now a shift manager. He supports his wife and six children on an income he says is high by both Palestinian and Israeli standards. About the boycott, he said it came down to protecting the workers' ability to earn a fair wage:

"We understand their [BDS and Oxfam's] opinion, but they need to understand what the factory gives the Palestinian workers, and there are a lot of factories in this area doing the same thing."

Similarly Palestinian Asharaf Aballi, 28, from Jenin, said he supported his parents, his wife and another eight family members on his income of $2,000: "First off we need a job and an income to live -- I have a family and I need money."

An unemployed youth near Qalandiya checkpoint, who gave his name as Yasser, said the minimum wage in the Palestinian Authority made it nearly impossible to live. "We need more factories like SodaStream. It's hard to get a job there," he said.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told IBTimes on Monday that he is "fed up" with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that businesspeople should take the opportunity to contribute to peace. He also said he didn't agree with settlements and believes that they shouldn't be built, despite the fact that his factory sits in the center of one. His company can in fact be "a model for peace." "We are showing Israelis and Palestinians that there can be peace," Birnbaum said.