Sodastream International, a company that distributes seltzer-making units and syrups in 45 countries around the world, is taking a bold move to ensure that all their customers know exactly where their products come from – Israel.
From now on, the company will be displaying a large Israeli flag with the words “MADE IN ISRAEL” on all of its packaging. Below the flag a note reads, “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”
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SodaStream, which produces easy to use carbonation machines for consumers to make their own soft drinks at home, took the step of adding the Israeli flag to its packaging voluntarily, despite the risk of backlash from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum said the company has been the target of boycotts numerous times in the past, and it was common knowledge that the product was made in Israel, so there was no reason to hide the fact.
“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” the company said this week in a statement.
The Scarlett Johansson stir
SodaStream was the subject of a fierce BDS campaign following the hiring of American film actress Scarlett Johansson as an ambassador for the organization. Johansson submitted her resignation to Oxfam, a British NGO for which she also served as an ambassador, after the latter demanded that Johansson cut all ties with SodaStream over a factory it operated in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone of the settlement Ma’aleh Adumim.
Mishor Adumim is at the edge of the Judean Desert, and the factory employed hundreds of Palestinian Arabs, but BDS caused Sodastream to close that factory and move to the Negev desert area instead, where it now employs hundreds of Israeli Bedouin instead. Oxfam later admitted that it had lost “thousands of donors” over its quarrel with Johansson.
“Being an ambassador for Israel”
“Israeli industry is a symbol of entrepreneurship, innovation and technology,” Birnbaum said in a statement. “As a proud Israeli company, we make sure to keep our Israeli identity at a high profile, even if it means fighting on the home front across the EU and against the economic terrorism of the BDS movement. In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves attacked, forced to apologize, and [our products] seized around the world. We Israelis may not be perfect, but we have much to be proud of, and we decided to show it – both for ourselves and for the world.”
Birnbaum said that the Israeli flag would be placed on all of the company’s products, 50 million of which are on store shelves worldwide at any given time. “We hope that every Israeli company does the same for the products they sell, whether it is a microchip, a tomato, or a watering system. We wish that everyone would feel comfortable being an ambassador for Israel.”
Photos and videos: SodaStream