SodaStream in the Naqab (Negev) is Complicit in Apartheid and Colonization

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In October 2014, SodaStream announced plans to move production out of the West Bank and into “Israel proper,” specifically the Naqab (Negev) desert. At the time of that announcement SodaStream already had a second plant operating near Rahat, in the Naqab desert, where many Palestinian Bedouins live. Some argue that since this factory is not inside the “occupied territories” it should not be a boycott target—though, according to the BDS call, Israeli companies are boycott targets. The reality is that this plant profits from Israel’s human rights abuses and discriminatory policies toward its non-Jewish citizens.

As part of Israel’s industrialization effort in the Naqab, the SodaStream factory was established with the help of government grant money. This industrialization of the Naqab is part of a strategy dating back to at least 1963, when Israeli general Moshe Dayan outlined his plan for the Bedouins. Dayan stated, “We should transform the Bedouin into an urban proletariat... which means that the Bedouin will not live on his land with his herds, but would become an urban person...”

Israel’s aim to divorce its Bedouin citizens from their land and traditional agricultural heritage is embodied in the Israeli government initiative known as the Prawer Plan, which intends to forcibly displace 70,000 Bedouin citizens of the Naqab. Though the Prawer Plan has yet to pass Israel’s Knesset as law, it is being carried out now. Since Prawer was made public, the government announced plans that will displace over 10,000 people and plant forests, build military centers, and establish new Jewish settlements in their place. Thousands of homes have already been demolished. Israeli government officials proudly link industrialization in the Naqab, with the building of factories like the SodaStream plant, to the Prawer Plan. The SodaStream plant in the Naqab is also a manifestation of Moshe Dayan’s vision, with Bedouins being forcibly removed from their traditional lifestyle and given factory jobs to replace the agriculture they’ve practiced for generations.

SodaStream has continued its unfair labor practices in the already operational Naqab factory. Workers, many of whom are Bedouin women, are told to work more or fewer hours based on the company’s needs. This can include shifts up to 12 hours long, including evening shifts, and SodaStream can notify employees on short notice.