Things could bubble up in Gaza soon, as Soda-Stream CEO Daniel Birnbaum announced plans on Thursday to open a manufacturing facility in Gaza.
“We want the people in Gaza to have jobs, real jobs, because where there is prosperity there can be peace,” Birnbaum said, on day two of the Globes Business Conference in Jerusalem.
The CEO explained how Sodastream’s “values” led the company to make this decision.
“Our diversity is very important,” he said of the company, which was acquired by PepsiCo for $3.2 billion in August 2018. “We love to show what peace looks like.”
In the Sodastream factory in the industrial park of Idan HaNegev, a mosaic of Israeli Jews and Arabs, Palestinians, Bedouins, Ethiopians and Russians work together to produce the foot-and-a-half tall device of the same name, which carbonates water by adding carbon dioxide from a pressurized cylinder to create soda.
According to Birnbaum, there are 1,000 Jews and 1,000 Arabs working in the factory. Some 100 of the Arabs are Palestinians.
The company once employed more Palestinians at its Mishor Adumim industrial park in the West Bank, but SodaStream closed that facility in October 2015 due to pressure from BDS activists. Some 500 Palestinians lost their jobs as a result.
“You wouldn’t believe it, we get along in peace and harmony, and people are smiling and friendships are emerging,” Birnbaum continued.
He said that he hopes that when people think of SodaStream they will say, “At SodaStream we manufacture peace every day, and along the way we also make soda.”
He continued, “It’s fantastic. We want to amplify that. We want more companies to do that.”
Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.