L’Chaim with Sodastream

February 26, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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After a hard fought Question Time yesterday,  two groups of Labor MPs, staffers and candidates gathered for a refreshing SodaStream drink organised by Michael Danby MP and Mike Kelly, the former Member for Eden Monaro, and current International Affairs advisor to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Shayne Neumann, Mark Dreyfus, Mike Kelly, Michael Danby, David Feeney, Bernie Rippol

Shayne Neumann, Mark Dreyfus, Mike Kelly, Michael Danby, David Feeney, Bernie Ripoll

 

The groups, which included Mark Dreyfus, Bernie Ripoll, David Feeney, Shayne Neumann, Senator Alex Gallacher  and Chair of the Israel/Australian friendship group Senator Glen Sterle, raised a glass to the Israeli company, and its brand ambassador Scarlett Johansson. Apologies from Senators Helen Polley, Catryna Bilyk, Stephen Conroy, Don Farrell, Jacinta Collins and MPs Deb O’Neill, Anthony Byrne and Tim Watts.

Scarlett Johansson had been an Ambassador for Oxfam International since 2005, resigning late last year, citing “fundamental differences of opinion” with the group, after Oxfam said Johansson’s promotion of SodaStream was “incompatible” with her being its ambassador.

Oxfam denies providing financial support to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign or funding any activities that call for a boycott of Israeli businesses and industry.   Omar Barghouti, founder of the BDS movement, has repeatedly pointed out the purpose of the Boycott Israel campaign was not to support the reconciliation of politicians or a two state solution.  His intentions are crystal clear; BDS is intent on the elimination of the state of Israel, which is why any mainstream political party should oppose it.

Speaking to the group, Michael Danby said:

Mike Kelly, Josh Burns, Michael Danby, Alex Gallacher, Glenn Sterle

Mike Kelly, Josh Burns, Michael Danby, Alex Gallacher, Glenn Sterle

“This afternoon’s drinks are about reaffirming Labor’s longstanding opposition to the BDS movement. Labor politicians have always been keen to turn up to anti-BDS actions which I have organised, and it’s not just because they have involved excellent Max Brenner chocolates, and now refreshing beverages. Labor believes that the best path to peace and security is through dialogue, not by demonising businesses.”

With regards to Oxfam-SodaStream controversy Michael Danby said:

“Oxfam does good work in some parts of the world, but in relation to Israel and Palestine its position is, and I’m being kind here; illogical. Companies like SodaStream are not impoverishing Palestinians, or endangering the peace process. SodaStream employs hundreds of Palestinians, and is an important driver of the Palestinian economy. As Ms Johansson said SodaStream is “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine” by “supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

Mark Dreyfus told J-Wire: “Although the photo looks light-hearted we were making a serious point about the peace process.  Labor supports a two state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.  We support a secure State of Israel living alongside a Palestinian State.  And as a part of this Labor opposes the BDS and supports successful companies that employ both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream has acknowledged that constant criticism of SodaStream’s factory in Ma’ale Adumim is a ‘pain in the ass’, and that if the decision had been his, he would not have established a factory there. However Birnbaum has said he would not close the factory out of loyalty to his 500 Palestinian employees who would not be able to work at a factory inside Israel.

Senator Glen Sterle, chairman of the Australia/Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group  praised Birnbaum’s stance:

“I think it’s commendable that Mr Birnbaum is putting his workers first. How could it possibly help the cause of the Palestinians if 500 of them lost their jobs? I wish them, and particularly the Ma’ale Adumim factory continued success. The Ma’ale Adumim factory brings Israelis and Palestinians together. It’s hard to hate, when you work with each other on an equal basis each day.”

Josh Burns, Labor candidate for the state seat of Caulfield said: ‘Instead of calling for change in a country such as Syria, where 120,000 people have been killed in an escalating civil war, or Iran where gay and lesbian men and women are executed because of their sexual orientation or North Korea where the people are enslaved, starved and brutalised, the BDS extremists focus on bringing down Israeli businesses that embrace employees from all backgrounds. Their approach is disappointing, just ask Sodastream’s Palestinian workers.’

Comments

2 Responses to “L’Chaim with Sodastream”
  1. Matt says:

    The above article includes the statement, “Omar Barghouti, founder of the BDS movement, has repeatedly pointed out the purpose of the Boycott Israel campaign was not to support the reconciliation of politicians or a two state solution. His intentions are crystal clear; BDS is intent on the elimination of the state of Israel, which is why any mainstream political party should oppose it.”

    I have read Omar Barghouti’s book “BDS – The Global Struggle For Palestinian Rights”. The book includes the text of the BDS manifesto. The manifesto states that the BDS movements aims to pressure Israel into:

    – Ending its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
    – Recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
    -Respecing, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

    I have two questions regarding the article:

    (1) How would the fulfillment of such demands result in “the elimination of the state of Israel”?

    (2) Given that the article openly stated that the BDS movement should be opposed, shouldn’t the article be classified as an opinion piece instead of a news piece?

  2. Drink up. Just for a few moments we can forget the occupation and attendant suffering of The Palestinian s.

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