By Jonathan Hoffman
October 23, 2012
....there is nothing illegal about SodaStream’s business. It is situated in Area C of the Occupied Territories, established in 1993 under the Oslo Accords. Under Israeli law, companies are free to open businesses in the area. The firm also has factories in Alon Tavor and Ashkelon in Israel.
"Palestinians, Jews and Christians all work together at SodaStream. If you could reproduce what we are doing across the area you would have peace. "
“The best thing I could do for SodaStream’s bottom line is move production to China. I won’t do that. We pay our workers three times the Israeli national average. We give them healthcare. Unemployment in the Palestine Authority region is around 30 per cent. Why would anyone want us to stop employing Palestinian workers?”
After speaking with Mr Birnbaum, I travelled to Jabba, on the outskirts of Ramallah , the capital of the Palestine Authority, to visit the home of Yousef Besharat who works as an assembly line manager at the Mishor factory. Yousef, in his early 20s, told me that with one year’s salary he has built a house in Jabba which he was looking forward to moving into. He said he had job security and a future. This is not to say that the daily grind of checkpoints and hassle is not corrosive. Yousef ’s brother, who also works as a supervisor at SodaStream, summed up the dilemma: “We hate the occupation. But we like our jobs.”
The workers’ determination to get on with the day-to-day job of earning a living despite local difficulties is shared by the staff at the Ecostream store back in Brighton.