Saturday, February 01, 2014

  • Saturday, February 01, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
I've been keeping a tally of articles about Arab SodaStream workers, and two more have appeared.

Both of them again find that the workers are happy and against any boycott, utterly demolishing the lies of Electronic Intifada and Reuters' Noah Browning.

From The Telegraph:
“We have no problems working here”, said one Palestinian employee, as others nodded in agreement. “The relations with the others are good, the pay is fine. But the way home is sometimes very long”.

One outside contractor who regularly visited the plant added: “It’s rare to see a company like this. Everyone sits together, works together. If you ask me, there should be a thousand SodaStreams in this area.”

Several of the SodaStream employees interviewed point to the schism between politics and their everyday lives in terms of relations between Israelis and Palestinians.
“It’s only segregated at the top level, between the Israeli and the Palestinian governments”, says an Arab cook from East Jerusalem working at the SodaStream canteen.

“The politicians, they make all kinds of a mess between Jews and Arabs. But the people here, the Palestinians and Israelis, they are working together, they talk to each other, there’s no problem. But at the political level, there are many issues.”

A Palestinian worker from East Jerusalem is waiting at the bus stop, talking into his mobile phone. “I like working here. The relations between people are good, what can I say?”
From Gawker:
In a Huffington Post blog post last week defending her association with SodaStream, Johansson said she's "proud of the...quality of their product and work environment," and said the factory places Israelis and Palestinians together side-by-side in cooperation. That frankly sounds too kumbaya to be true, but a similar sentiment was actually volunteered without prompting by the Palestinian workers here.

"Hell yeah, I'm happy. We're like family. We have fun,'' said Mohammed Yousef, 22, from the Palestinian village of Jaba. "We are Jews and Muslims here. We are here peacefully. We have no problems. Everyone is complaining about settlements here and everywhere, but SodaStream is different.''

The workers here say they take home about $1,200 monthly–anywhere from double to triple common wages in the territories. The company also provides pensions and some medical insurance.

Truth be told, the SodaStream workers and local Palestinians were downright peeved when asked about the efforts of solidarity activists and their own government to boycott SodaStream. That could cost the hundreds of Palestinians wage earners salaries that are significantly higher than what they would make at home.

"Prostitutes are better than politics. Politics doesn't bring me bread,'' said one 34-year-old packaging worker who declined to give his name. "Leave me alone with the Palestinian state. If they close the plant, where will I go?''

Siam, who eventually checked out the Johansson commercial on YouTube, told me he liked it, especially the dig at Coke and Pepsi. "That was so cool.'' That said, Siam said he understood the objections of the pro-Palesitnian activists who denounced his company's ambassador.

"I talk a lot to friends abroad. They say, 'You are an Arab. How can you work there?'" he said. "Nobody knows there are 1,000 people and their lives will be turned upside down by the [boycott]. You are killing them, so stop it.''

Right now, 6 independent  news articles find SodaStream workers are satisfied with their jobs and how they are treated, with only two disagreeing - and those two happen to have been written by those with known extreme anti-Israel bias, Electronic Intifada and Reuters' Noah Browning. It is more and more obvious that those two cherry picked interviews to agree with their biases.

(By the way, if you want to have an idea of how "unbiased" Browning is, his Twitter handle is "@SheikhNB". Can you imagine a wire service reporter with the handle @RabbiX ever being taken seriously?)

(h/t Josh K and Gidon Shaviv)

UPDATE: One more. Score is 7-2.

"Those who seek to help the Palestinians end up hurting us," said Nabil Bashrat, 40, resident of Ramallah who works at the factory.

"(The factory) provides income to hundreds of families, entire villages. Peace is what happens here inside, and not outside. Those who are abroad don't understand the relations and actually sabotage the process. The factory draws us closer. Even in times of instability, as was during the war in Gaza, everything was as usual here."

UPDATE 2: 8-2.

“I’ve been working for a long time alongside the Jews and Palestinians,” one department manager, a Palestinian, tells me. “Everyone does everything together, we eat together, we come to work together. Everyone is treated equally, there’s no difference. I see it as a small contribution [to peace].” Should foreign companies operate factories in the West Bank? I ask. “Yes, of course,” he says. “There’s valuable opportunities here because the Palestinian Authority can’t create enough jobs.”


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