Reports in the Wall Street Journal indicate that giant retailer, Macy’s, has removed SodaStream, the Israel product from its shelves as a result of pressure from the BDS movement. There have been conflicting reports as to whether it actually happened or if there were other reasons.
Calls to the managers of Macy’s stores in the Garden State Plaza and Paramus Park for comment were not returned. Some reports indicated that BDS sought to have the product removed because it is manufactured in disputed territory. Other reports indicated that the product had a poor performance.
The stated intent behind the BDS movement is to do as much harm to the Israeli economy as possible. They have demonstrated and attempted to pressure stores large and small. Macy’s appears to be the jewel in their crown. Ironically the department store chain was founded by Isidor Strauss who died with his wife in the sinking of the Titanic.
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan expressed surprise that such an action had been taken. “I condemn the boycott,” Donovan said. “I have Soda Stream in my home. They have done so much for Israel and its employees.” The County Executive added that she did not want to condemn Macy’s but disagreed with such a divestiture.
Donovan noted that many of the employees at the company are Palestinians who are paid a fair and living wage in comparison to the far lower standard of living in Palestinian controlled areas.
“This is a terrible thing to do,” Donovan continued. “They (Soda Stream) tries to do the right thing; pay a living wage to all employees and this is what happens. My son and his friends enjoy the Soda Stream products. In fact, I am going to send my son out to buy more.”
Jim Tedesco, who is running against Donovan told JLBC, “I don’t support any boycott of SodaStream. It’s a great company with a great product that millions enjoy. I’m hoping that reports of Macy’s taking SodaStream off their shelves is untrue. If this is a deliberate attempt to hurt SodaStream simply because they are an Israeli based company, I will not only speak out but I will personally demand answers.”
It is not known at this point if the BDS movement had also been successful in forcing Macy’s sister store, Bloomingdale’s, to remove the product. Both are owned by Federated Department Stores and operate some 838 stores.
Actress Scarlett Johansson has been a public face of Soda Stream and relinquished her role as spokesperson for Oxfam when it demanded that she separate herself from the Israeli company.
The basis for the BDS move, aside from an effort to hurt the Israeli economy, is allegedly because the production plant is located in Mishor Adumim, land the Palestinians are claiming.
The fact is that should the company be financially harmed, it would severely affect its hundreds of Palestinian workers. The Palestinians work on an equal basis with Israelis and those of a variety of European backgrounds. In addition to the workers of Palestinian extraction, the company employs several as shift supervisors and line managers, earning far more than they possibly could in commerce controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
One employee, questioned by a journalist was quoted as saying: “Jews and Muslims are like a family…here.”
Soda Stream employees earn a net of about $1,200 monthly, double to triple the pay of those living in the Palestinian controlled territories.
The plant employs some 1,300 people. Of that number there are approximately 500 Palestinians.
BDS has targeted stores across the country, most notably in California where they have found some degree of success. In Bergen County they tried to force Trader Joe’s to drop Israeli products but were told the chain does not indulge in politics.
They attempted the same with Corrado’s in Clifton where the store manager was told it was illegal to carry products from Israel. The owner overrode the manager’s decision to remove the products and the individual who made the story from whole cloth returned and attempted to pressure the store, resorting to a screaming fit. He was removed from the premises.
A win for the BDS movement with a major chain such as Macy’s is most certain to embolden them to apply pressure to other companies.
By Bob Nesoff