Employees at a SodaStream factory.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With two weeks to go before it clears out its controversial factory in Ma'aleh Adumin in favor of one in the Negev desert, Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum on Thursday skewered the BDS movement as anti-semitic.
"It's propaganda, it's politics, it's hate, it's anti-Semitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of," Birnbaum said.
The SodaStream factory has been a central target for the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, which claimed the decision to move out of the West Bank settlement as a major victory. Birnbaum, however, said that the decision was strictly business. Moreover, he said that the factory's presence in the West Bank was good for Palestinians.
“Sodastream should have been encouraged in the West Bank by the BDS, if they truly cared about the Palestinian people. Because we were the most advanced, technological and largest factory in the West Bank, period. We were the largest private employer of Palestinians in the world, period. How can you fight that? How can you argue that's bad for the Palestinians?”
Birnbaum went on to say that he had offered to pay taxes to the Palestinian Authority, but that Palestinian economy minister would not even take a phone call with him.
Despite a high profile ad purchase at the US SuperBowl, SodaStream's stocks have been tumbling. While BDS leaders claimed their campaign was responsible for the company's poor fortunes profits, Birnbaum said there was only a "marginal" effect.
Market analysts have linked the company's difficulties to a failure to replicate its European success in the United States, where the company marketed itself as an alternative to Coca-Cola and Pepsi products. US consumers, however, have been eschewing sugary soda drinks in favor of healthier alternatives. Its new strategy involves marketing the machine as a carbonated water machine.