The scandal over Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson's representation of Israeli soda-maker SodaStream reached a peak just prior to last Sunday's Super Bowl, during which Johansson's SodaStream commercial officially debuted.
Scores of reporter, both foreign and local, amassed at SodaStream's flagship factory in the so-called "West Bank," the very factory for which the company has taken so much flak, in order to find out what all the fuss was about.
Johansson had found herself rebuked by various elements of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that insists any Israeli business operating out of areas claimed by the Palestinian Arabs is by definition "exploitative."
In other words, it matters not that SodaStream has dozens of other factories in Israel-proper and around the world producing far more than the "West Bank" plant. The fact that the company operates at all in the disputed territories marks it as unethical and worthy of nothing but scorn.
It would be simple for SodaStream to simply close the "West Bank" plant and put all this mess behind it. But CEO Daniel Birnbaum has explained several times that there is one overriding reason he has rejected the "easy way out": it would put nearly 1,000 Palestinians out of a job, and a job that pays far more than they could earn elsewhere, at that.
And right there is the reason that the whole SodaStream scandal actually debunks the BDS movement, and demonstrates how it is actually exploiting average Palestinians for the sake of a nationalist, anti-Israel agenda.
A simple look at the numbers and the firsthand testimonies of Palestinian employees proves that far from being exploitative, SodaStream is providing the kind of jobs and incomes that Palestinians could only dream of in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority.
SodaStream employees, both Arabs and Jews, earn an average Israeli salary, which is roughly triple that of the average Palestinian Authority salary.
Birnbaum doesn't want his Palestinian employees to lose those benefits, even though it would be easier for him and the company to simply shutter the plant. The BDS movement, on the other hands, does appear to give a rat's ass about so many Palestinians losing such lucrative jobs, so long as the area is cleansed of one more Jew-owned business.
So which side, one must wonder, is truly looking out for the well-being of average Palestinians, and which is simply using them as pawns in a grand nefarious scheme?
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