Monday, February 3, 2014

SodaStream Part 3:

I approached the current argument about whether to buy a 2 cents plain* maker from SodaStream pretty much decided against doing so, though I consume a fair amount of double bubble h20. But I am opposed to Israeli settlements on the west bank, and always have been. It seemed to me SodaStream had cashed in on the land grab powered by religious fanaticism, noxious nationalism and just plan greed. 

After heeding arguments for and against SodaStream I moved from anti to unsure. Heeding further pushed me all across the way to pro-SodaStream. It's not that there aren't good arguments against West Bank bubbly; it's just that many of them are more specious than arguments for the product.

Yes, the factory in Maale Adumim was built as part of the illegal, as per international law, and immoral seizure of West Bank land, with tax inducements by the Israeli government to SodaStream's founder. Of this there can be no doubt. Nor should it be forgotten. But Maale Adumim is where one of SodaStream's 13 facilities, the one under dispute, now sits, and where some 500 Palestinian workers are not shy about saying they are glad to be employed, availing themselves of wages and working conditions hard to come by elsewhere.

Those who call for the SodaStream boycott either exaggerate or just plain lie about worker discontents. For many of them, Israel can do no good. Or if it does good the point is only to make propaganda. These, so far as I can tell, are key tenets of the Boycott Divest Sanction movement aimed at all things Israeli. To get into a full discussion of BDS here would take us far afield, so back to SodaStream.

It's true, as boycotters stress, that workers do not have a union and that unions are good things for workers to have. But many workers, particularly in the Third World, don't have unions or have unions that don't deserve the name, and it's true that all too many workers in the U.S. lack for union representation, as well, which does not usually generate calls for boycott. And the workers at SodaStream, un-unionized as they may be, are nevertheless remunerated by management up to the level won by workers within Israel itself.

To summarize: it seems to me, after all my heeding, considering, hesitation and indecision, that the boycott SodaStream movement doesn't much care that SodaStream benefits workers (or seeks to deny the fact that it does) as much as it bemoans the insult that SodaStream does to their idea of a future Palestine. What I have a truly hard time understanding is why more energy hasn't been put into thinking of how a Palestinian state and a concern like SodaStream might do very well together, why such a prospect is treated as oxymoronic.

When I consider how nicely SodaStream and a Palestinian state might fit together, here's what begins to worry me: one of the Palestinian factions who have not renounced terrorism will blow the factory up. Unless, of course, one of the Israeli settler groups, loathing rapprochement just as fiercely, beats them to the punch.

Of course, this is paranoid. Nothing like this ever happens to potentially positive outcomes in the Middle-East.

* Old name (& price), dating from the redaction of the Brooklyn Talmud circa 1900, for a glass of seltzer.

** Though I've always liked Scarlett Johansson, even before knowing she was half-Jewish, her pitch for SodaStream during the Stuporbowel, from which the best part —"Sorry Coke and Pepsi" — had been excised, has nothing to do with it.

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