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Oxfam and BDS Hypocrisy by Wallace Bruschweiler and Alan Kornman

The definition of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis is when the two can work alongside each other, earning equal wages, benefits, and economically energizing their neighborhoods, in a ‘so called’ peaceful environment.

Peace broke out in Maale Adumim, West Bank at the SodaStream factory 15 minutes west of Jerusalem. 600 West Bank Palestinians, 300 East Jerusalem Arabs, and 300 Israeli Jews entered, without knowing, into a voluntary peace deal at SodaStream. All this achieved without outside interference from the United Nations, United States, and UK.

The SodaStream factory had an on-site synagogue and mosque. Jew and Palestinian break bread everyday sharing the same cafeteria in peace and harmony. The economy of Maale Adumim, West Bank was benefiting from the positive financial benefits as SodaStream’s Palestinian workers were building homes, buying local goods, and saving money for their future.

How Did This Peace Work?

Al Monitor asked SodaStream’s President Daniel Birnbaum to explain how this peace worked between Israeli and Palestinian.

“You know, as far as many of them(Palestinians) are concerned, the only Israelis they know are settlers and the policemen at checkpoints. Most of them had never even been to Israel until I took them on a tour last summer. Then they saw Israelis on the beach and in the street. They saw plain, ordinary people.

On the other hand, it was also an opportunity for us to break through the barriers of hatred and to get to know the other side, so that we could finally recognize that not every Palestinian is a terrorist. I’m proud of that. I want people to finally realize that we’re talking about people and that peace is possible, despite the politicians. If there were another hundred companies like us extending a hand to the other side, we would have a peace agreement, because everybody wants it, including the Palestinians.”

This SodaStream economic peace effort was a glimmer of light at the end of a very dark and bloody tunnel. Then, out of nowhere, Oxfam and BDS Movement came into play with a world wide action which at the end of the day is hurting over 3,500 Palestinians.

900 Palestinians and Arabs Betrayed By Oxfam and BDS’ Nonsense

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is a global campaign to increase economic and political pressure on Israel i.e. branding Israel as an apartheid state. BDS puts public pressure on companies like SodaStream by protesting and intimidating retailers around the world for selling their products.

The BDS movement has evolved into a non-affiliated arm of Palestinian terrorism. Oxfam/BDS are hell bent on Israel’s economic destruction. Sacrificing the economic future of 900 Palestinian workers was a very small matter to the BDS movement.

Oxfam

Oxfam’s mission statement: “Working with thousands of local partner organizations, we work with people living in poverty striving to exercise their human rights, assert their dignity as full citizens and take control of their lives.”

Oxfam International in its zeal to hurt SodaStream violated its own mission statement.

Oxfam went on a personal rampage mission to destroy SodaStream, in January 2014, after their international spokesperson, Ms. Scarlett Johansson, appeared in a SodaStream worldwide TV ad campaign.

Oxfam got hot under the collar when Ms. Johansson’s publicist gave this reason for leaving Oxfam. “Ms. Johansson, respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years… She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

In a January 30, 2014 Oxfam press release the ‘aid’ groups politics become crystal clear, “Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”

Oxfam International, with an operating budget of $1.2 Billion US and net assets of $396 Million, decided to exact their pound of flesh from SodaStream. Ms. Scarlett Johansson publicly exposed Oxfam’s political bias against the State of Israel in favor of the BDS Movement. The only one’s who got hurt at the end of the day were the 900 Palestinian and Arab workers who were earning four times more than the average wage in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

Back To Square One

JTA reports, Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream CEO said, “We are committed to continue serving as a bridge and to sowing hope.” The flames of that hope were extinguished because of outside influences from Oxfam International and BDS, both showing their anti-semitism.

“SodaStream’s case, some say, is one example of how boycotting an Israeli company doing business in the West Bank can end up hurting the very goals that boycott proponents say they are trying to achieve: Palestinian rights and Israel-Palestinian peace.”

Conclusion

SodaStream will soon be closing their West Bank plant and moving it to the Be’er Sheva area in the Negev. With an average of 4 people per household approximately 3,600 Palestinians and Arab workers are being directly impacted by the SodaStream West Bank plant closing.

Many of these Palestinian and Arab workers had been earning enough money with SodaStream to apply for mortgages and building homes. When those mortgage payments can’t be paid and the foreclosures start there will be much anger and frustration in these West Bank communities. There is no work in the West Bank for these Palestinians to move into comparable earning jobs and support their families.

Now there are 3,600 additional frustrated and angry Palestinians in the West Bank. Their anger, strangely enough, will not be focused on Oxfam International and the BDS Movement who are responsible for them losing their livelihood.

That anger will be focused like a laser on the Jews and Israel. If I was a Palestinian community organizer I would be channeling this anti Jew/Israel anger by building more violent terrorist cells in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with all these now unemployed SodaStream workers.

Qatar would be smart to give these families a little bit of money and food to tide them over for a short time instead of financing a Gaza weapons buying spree. When the money and food runs out, desperation sets in. Generosity in the Arab world comes with a very high price tag.

The payment will almost certainly be the radicalization of these once proud Palestinian SodaStream workers.

Sadly, there are no profits in peace between the Palestinians and Israelis for groups like Oxfam and the BDS Movement who thrive on poverty and misery.

The Big Picture

The idiocy of Oxfam BDS campaign created a situation where some EU and USA large wholesalers had to cancel orders of Israeli products. The unintended consequence is that Russia is now buying up from Israel what the EU and USA are unfortunately boycotting.

Look out BDS crowd, Scarlett Johansson is on the case

“What a Gal” was the tagline in an email sent me earlier today by Dr. William Firshein, Emeritus Professor of Microbiology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.  Brooklyn raised Bill “Velvi” Firshein is an unreconstructed Zionist whom I got to know in my activist days in the nutmeg state. We maintain a daily stream of conversation via emails after my retirement to Florida. Firshein is unafraid to write critical letters and emails to the editors of major media lambasting them for biased coverage of Israel and issues like the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and the recent academic ones. See our Iconoclast blog post here.

The wonderful gal that Velvi was referring to is 29 year old New York City native, Scarlett Johannson  voted by Esquire as “the sexist woman alive,” not once but twice, in 2006 and 2013.

Watch Scarlett Johansson in the YouTube video of the uncensored version of the SodaStream Super Bowl ad that started the ruckus with the tagline “sorry Pepsi and Coke”.  Fox demanded deletion of that line so as not to offend  the major soda world competitors. Wonder why it has over 5.5 million hits, already?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zxq4ziu-wrI[/youtube]

You might have seen her in Marvel’s the AvengersIron Man Two or heard her in Her. She is one hot film property as she is in four productions to be released in 2014 and another in 2015. Johannson is the daughter of a Danish father and American Jewish mother and TV producer.

The “what” that Firshein was referring to was the news today that Oxfam, the world hunger NGO based in the UK, was dropping her after eight years as its spokeswoman. They didn’t like her signing on to an endorsement deal to appear in the above Super Bowl ad this Sunday for SodaStream, an Israeli carbonation manufacturer that has a plant in the “disputed territories”.

The Daily Beast noted why Oxfam dropped her and what Johansson said:

As the international charity itself told Johansson, “Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”

But the Hollywood star brushed this off, repeating Soda Stream’s talking points that the factory represents an example of “economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

That brought a smile to  Firshein. He wrote in this morning’s email:

Israel has a new heroine, Scarlett Johannson, in the tradition of Ruth and other great Hebrew woman (yes Scarlett Johannson is Jewish).  First, she has been a terrific spokesperson  for an Israeli company (SodaStream) based on the border between Israel and the so called “territories” which employs a majority of Palestinians who have nothing but praise for the owner Daniel Birnbaum who deliberately built his plant in a difficult place to promote peace and diversity. Second, she has stood up to the extreme bias of Oxfam for whom she was also a spokesperson for an organization that brings awareness to global poverty in third world countries. However their incredible animus against Israel was not well known. For years they have been anti Israel and pro Palestinian. Everything Israel did was bad and everything the Palestinians have done (including terrorism) was condoned. Yet Johannson remained as a spokesperson until Oxfam spewed out its support for the BDS movement against Israel.

That was too much for her and she resigned.

Scarlett Johansson should be the poster person to combat BDS worldwide. The media minders in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem should get their collective heads around this golden opportunity to beat down the Israel haters. As Lisa Benson wrote me after reading Firshein and my comments, “This is a major PR moment.” That reflects our mutual view that Johansson’s push back at the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign makes her a formidable asset in potentially putting a stop to it. The move by Oxfam deprives them of a star fundraiser and public personality who travelled to all the hot spots across the globe for them during the past eight years. But they are part of the pro-Palestinian supporters in the NGO and media world trashing Israel for having the right to develop disputed territories while creating jobs at good wages for Palestinian employees of SodaStream at the Mishnor Adumim industrial park in Ma’ale Adumim.

The Christian Science Monitor published an article today illustrating how those Palestinian employees of SodaStream back Johansson, “Palestinian workers back Scarlett Johansson’s opposition to SodaStream boycott”.

Note this Oxfam, Electronic Intifada and other allies of the BDS cause:

The Jewish actress’s promotion of the company in a Super Bowl ad has propelled an international campaign to boycott the home soda maker and today forced the actress to step down as a global ambassador for the humanitarian agency Oxfam.

But those most familiar with the factory – Palestinians who work there – largely side with Ms. Johansson.

“Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer,” says a young man shivering in the pre-dawn darkness in Azzariah, a West Bank town cut off from work opportunities in Jerusalem by the concrete Israeli separation wall. Previously, he earned 20 shekels ($6) a day plucking and cleaning chickens; now he makes nearly 10 times that at SodaStream, which also provides transportation, breakfast, and lunch.

As a few dozen men in hoodies and work coats trickle out of the alleys to the makeshift bus stop where they wait for their ride to the factory, another adds, “If SodaStream closes, we would be sitting in the streets doing nothing.”

The SodaStream controversy is part of the International Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign, which Palestinians launched in July 2005 as an effort to force Israel to end the occupation of the Palestinian territories, recognize Israeli Arab’s full rights, and promote the Palestinian right of return.

Speaking anonymously on a largely deserted street, with no Israeli SodaStream employees present, all but one of those interviewed said they opposed the boycott, given the lack of alternative job opportunities in the West Bank. That underscores Israeli claims that a boycott would be counterproductive, undermining the cooperation and prosperity that could boost peace prospects in the region.

This controversy really shows off Israeli business savvy big time. SodaStream is positioning itself as the ecologically correct threat to Coke and Pepsi in the annual $280 Billion carbonated drinks market worldwide. CEO of SodaStream, Daniel  Birnbaum is a Harvard MBA, P&G Marketing trained and former CEO of Nike Israel who signed on after an Israel venture capitalist bought the assets of floundering SodaStream and asked him to come aboard and run it.  The buzz created over their Super Bowl ad censored for mentioning Pepsi and Coke was a slick move.

Watch this Bloomberg video with SodaStream CEO Birnbaum on the company, sales and its future.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.