By Andrea Karshan
Israelis and Palestinians work for economic coexistence in the West Bank as BDS fights their efforts from overseas.
Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Activist, and Erez Zadok, Fund Manager for Aviv Peace-Impact, visited CSI on March 31, 2016, to educate students on the benefits of Israeli-Palestinian economic coexistence and the challenges it has been facing. According to NPR, the main coalition trying to move Israeli companies out of the West Bank is BDS. These efforts by BDS hinders the work of people like Zadok, who invest in West Bank companies and try to build peace through economic relationships between Israelis and Palestinians.
Zadok explained that economic coexistence in the West Bank benefits the Palestinians.
“I found out there are 50,000 Palestinians working for Israeli companies in the West Bank,” said Zadok.”These 50,000 Palestinians make five times more than the Palestinians that work in Palestinian factories.”
Zadok met with SodaStream in the West Bank.
“The factory was in a small village in Jerusalem. Among the 1,000 people who work there, half of them were Palestinians, half of them were Israelis and of the Israelis, part of them were Arab, and part of them were Jews,” said Zadok.”When I asked the CEO of SodaStream what do you do he said ‘Well, we make peace, and we also make soda.'”
Zadok further explained he didn’t’ understand BDS’s attacks against SodaStream, a company that had a factory in the West Bank and employed Palestinians, Israeli Jews, and Arabs.
“I was amazed when I knew BDS was going after this company,” Zadok said. “You should think such a company should get a reward that it would want to make peace in this land.”
Eid pointed out that BDS is not in Palestine, but only exists in Europe and America.
“The Palestinians are much more aware of their situation than any other organization located in the USA, Europe or elsewhere,” said Eid. “Such an organization like BDS is not only trying to cause damage to the Israeli economy but also to the Palestinians.”
According to Eid, Palestinians in Palestine don’t know what BDS is nor do they support the movement’s ideology because it doesn’t benefit them.
Zadok pointed out that when BDS pressures companies to move out of the West Bank, in the end, it is the Palestinians that lose jobs, and Israelis are hired instead. According to the Jerusalem Post, the BDS movement has not had the devastating impact on Israel’s economy it hoped to have. Israel’s trade to places such as Asia has improved. According to Zadok, though BDS tries to pressure companies to leave the West Bank, most have stayed. SodaStream finally moved out of the West Bank due to needing a larger factory, not because of BDS.
Zadok says even though Palestinians are attacking Israelis every day on the street, in the workplace everyone gets the same benefits, pay, and respect therefore building bridges and no one fights. Palestinians have knives and other sharp tools at factories and attack no one, but knife attacks from Palestinians and Arab‐Israelis happen frequently on the street in Israel. According to The Guardian, from October 2015-March 2016, there were 211 stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians reported as part of the “knife intifada.” None of these incidents happened in factories.
“One thing that bothers me the most about BDS is that unwillingness to admit that there is a Jewish or Israeli narrative to this conflict,” said Amy Posner, Executive Director at Hillel of College of Staten Island. “So when you don’t admit that someone else has a narrative you can’t come up with some sort of cooperation.”