Wednesday, January 29, 2014

  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
The SodaStream story brings up an interesting point about journalism itself.

So far, since last year, we have seen four different media outlets interview workers at the SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumin.

First, JTA last February:
“Everyone works together: Palestinians, Russians, Jews,” a Palestinian employee named Rasim at the Maale Adumim site told JTA. Rasim has worked at the plant for four months and asked that his last name not be published. “Everything is OK. I always work with Jews. Everyone works together, so of course we’re friends.”
This was followed by the Electronic Intifada hate site, referring to the video that Sodastream put out about its Arab workers:
“I feel humiliated and I am also disgraced as a Palestinian, as the claims in this video are all lies. We Palestinian workers in this factory always feel like we are enslaved,” M. said.

...When asked if there was discrimination between black and white Jews, M. replied, “Yes, for sure. You will not [find] white Jews wearing yarmulke [a skull cap] doing the hard work or ‘hand work.’ The supervisors who run the factory are mainly Russian and they are managed mainly by the white Jews, and we are ‘Palestinians,’ only workers.”
Then came the article from The Forward that I referred to previously:
During discussions between a Forward reporter and about a half-dozen of these Palestinian employees, conducted out of earshot of Israeli managers, none complained of labor abuses, or of receiving pay below the Israeli minimum wage. Asked about the calls by anti-occupation activists to boycott SodaStream, one spoke about the dearth of jobs in the Palestinian Authority economy.
That was followed by a new Reuters piece written by Noah Browning:
One mid-level Palestinian employee who spoke to Reuters outside the plant, away from the bosses, painted a far less perfect picture, however.

"There's a lot of racism here," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can't ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced."
I have pointed out in the past that Noah Browning is a very poor reporter with a definite anti-Israel bias.

So we have a case study here. Four reports, two contradicting the other two. Which is accurate?

Obviously, Electronic Intifada has no journalistic integrity whatsoever. It is literally impossible to believe that their reporter would ever admit that some Arab employees are happy. If she interviewed ten workers and only one was critical, that would be the one quoted.

I've shown that Noah Browning is biased. I would not be surprised if he called up EI and asked for the name of the person they interviewed last year to save himself some effort of finding a disgruntled employee himself.

JTA and the Forward are both Jewish publications. But both are very left wing and anti-settlement. They are both highly critical of the Israeli government. The Forward just published an op-ed from Peace Now advocating boycotting SodaStream. It would be difficult to say that they are biased towards finding workers who would sing the praises of SodaStream. Yet - that's who they found.

So who is more credible? The answer is obvious.

If SodaStream was treating its workers like slaves, they would be leaving and finding other jobs. That does not seem to be the case here.

I'm not saying that the person (or people) interviewed by Browning and EI is lying. Every company has disgruntled employees. Any reporter can, and often does, play the game of finding just the right person to support the reporter's pre-existing bias. This is how journalists can lie with facts.

And this is almost certainly what we are seeing here from Reuters and Electronic Intifada.

UPDATE: If you need any more proof that Browning and EI are fudging the truth, this is from NPR:
In the factory, workers on 12-hour shifts make about seven dollars an hour, a hair above Israel's minimum wage and three times higher than the average Palestinian wage.

We didn't want to quiz employees under the boss's eye. But in a minimart in the nearby Palestinian town of Eizariyah, a SodaStream employee who had worked at the company for three years showed us his ID. But he didn't want his name used.

"It's an excellent place to work," he said. "It provides a good salary and they treat us very well. At SodaStream, they do not discriminate between Arabs, Jews or any ethnic group."


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