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November 14, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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November 14, 2014
 

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PAGE 2A . HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 14, 2014 you n Nati Shohat/Flash90 Some of the hundreds of Palestinians who work at So- daStream's West Bank factory that will be shut down. They could be put out of work with the facility's relocation to southern Israel. By Ben Sales TEL AVIV (JTA)--So- daStream, the Israeli at- home seltzer machine com- pany, announced last week that it would be closing its West Bank factory and mov- ing the facility's operations to southern Israel next year. Here's what you need to know about SodaStream, the con- troversy that has bubbled up in its midst and what the ac- tress Scarlett Johansson has to do with it. What is SodaStream? SodaStream is an Israeli company that makes and sells seltzer machines for home use. Since it was founded in 1991, the company has sold more than 10 million ma- chines in 39 countries. The foot-and-a-half-tall machines turn still water into seltzer in 30 seconds. The company also markets dozens of mix-in fla- vors, such as cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime and fruit punch. Why is SodaStream con- troversial? Until this week, Soda- Stream's main factory was located in Mishor Adumim, an industrial park in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Because the settle- ment is likely to be included in Israel in any future peace deal with the Palestinians, many Israelis don't view it as all that controversial. But groups that oppose Israel's 'occupation' of the West Bank have called for boycotts of SodaStream due to the factory's location. The debate over SodaStream gained attention earlier this year when the actress S carlett Johansson became the face of the company, appearing in a SodaStream ad during the Super Bowl. Johans- son ended up resigning as (i a spokeswoman for Oxfam International, an anti-poverty group that opposes the West Bank factory, after it criticized the actress' involvement with the company. What is SodaStream's posi- tion on its West Bank factory? SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum has touted the Mishor Adumim factory, which has been in its cur- rent location since 1997, as a successful example of Arab-Jewish coexistence in the West Bank. Some 500 Palestinians work at the fac- tory alongside Israeli Jews, and Birnbaum says he pays them well and treats them as equals with their Jewish co-workers, though pro- Palestinian groups allege that the Palestinian employees are treated poorly. The fac- tory includes a mosque for Muslim employees. Closing the factory, Birnbaum says, could mean putting hundreds of Palestinians out of work. Birnbaum is a proponent of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has noted that Mishor Adumim is defined as an area under Israeli control by the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords, and argues that Israeli industry there is thus not a violation of inter- national law. The company drew more criticism this summer after it fired 60 of its Muslim em- ployees, claiming they refused to work. The employees coun- tered that SodaStream did not provide them with sufficient meals following the Ramadan fast and therefore were unable to safely operate machinery. So what caused the move? SodaStream's third-quar- ter revenue dropped 13 per- cent, and sales in the Americas dropped 41 percent--num- bers the company says are unrelated to the boycotts. Moving to Lehavim, a town in southern Israel, near Beersheba, will yield savings of 2 percent, according to a brief SodaStream statement about the move. The Israeli government gave SodaStream a $20 million grant for the new facility, part of a larger government effort to incen- tivize business growth in the country's South. The company claims the motive for the move is "purely commercial," though Birn- baum told the Forward this year that the Mishor Adumim factory is a "pain in the ass." Birnbaum said in the state- ment that he's working with the Israeli government to obtain work permits that would enable his Palestin- ian employees to work at the relocated plant. However, the new facility is 60 miles away from the Mishor Adumim workplace. "While we are enthusiastic about our new Lehavim facil- ity and the exciting promise it brings to our company, we are committed to doing every- thing in our power to enable continuity of employment to our family of employees," Birn- baum said in the statement. What are protest groups saying about the move? They have praised the deci- sion ... but they're still boycot- ting SodaStream. Activists say that the Mishor Adumim factory's closure is evidence that the BDS movement, which aims to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, is working. "Today's news is just the latest sign that these global BDS campaigns are having an impact on changing the behavior of companies that profit from Israeli occupation and apartheid," said Ramah Kudaimi, membership and outreach coordinator for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which represents 400 organizations. But Kudaimi's group, as well as the Palestinian Boy- cott, Divestment and Sanc- tions National Committee, say they will continue to boycott SodaStream because they claim its new factory abets dispossession of Bedouin land in Israel, even though the factory will be in an existing industrial park. By Jerry Silverman and Michael Siegal The festival is produced by Enzian and the JCC of Grea~er O~lando as par~ of the Cultla~l Festival Circui~ and is supported by United Arts of Ce~tra.l F~orida with funds from the United Art~ Campaign and by the IENZIAN State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cuitural Affairs, th-.~ Florida Arts Council, and the Nationat Endowment for the Arts, F*LN FOOD FmEND$ GET YOUR TICK[TS fiT WWW.ENZIAN.ORG (JTA)--Reinventing. Re- thinking. Rebranding. In- novating. They're all buzzwords we hear today whether talking about education, health care, product marketing or Jewish communal work. We're living in a time in which endless access to information and 24-hour communication is challeng- ing us to question just about everything. As a result, we have seen new models of business, philanthropy and outreach in every corner of the globe. Airbnb, Zipcar and Kick- starter are examples of busi- nesses that have successfully harnessed the tools of this new era to fill a need. For some, the opportunities are tremendous. In the Jewish community, up to 40% SAVINGS 100% GUARANTEE FREE DELIVERY Cartridge World-A[tamonte Springs 801 W SR/436, Ste 1025 407-767-0680 Caffridge Ul0rld www.cartridgeworldusa.com/store233 purchase of s30- or more, Good on Cartridge World cartridges only. Valid only with Limit one per customer, household or busmness. participating store. Not valid with any other offer. 35 OFF CARTRIDGE Buy I cartridge at regular prme, % nd receive 35 off 2 one of equal or lesser value. (s50 max value). store. Not valid with any other often Offer expires 11/20/2014. we have also witnessed a new age of innovation. Birthright, Moishe House and PJ Library are just a few organizations that have emerged to fill our communal needs. And at this year's annual General Assem- bly of the Jewish Federations of North America, we are go- ing to take a good look at how we can continue to maximize our potential. We will know we have been successful when attendees leave with just as many new questions as answers and are inspired to continue the conversation long after the conference concludes. The theme of the G.A. is "The World is Our Backyard." The program amplifies this message through a combi- nation of thinking sessions and inspirational moments, high-level speakers and new opportunities for federations to share their best programs and strategies, and discuss their scalability. In Florida, for example, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando recog- nized how tough it is for adults with disabilities to find jobs. So the federation started a program called RAISE (Recognizing Abili- ties and Inclusion of Special Employees) that not only matches adults with special needs to part-time jobs, but also gives those employees professional support and job training, helping them to be- come valued and productive members of the community. In San Francisco, the Jew- ish Community Federation was struggling to figure how to engage young people in philanthropy. The result was to schedule events around different themes that federa- tion supports, whether Jewish camping or LGBT program- ming, with each attendee asked to make voluntary contributions. In Vancouver, British Co- lumbia, Jewish leaders saw the difficulty in getting social services to suburban areas and came up with JHub Rich- mond, which provides office space, meeting rooms and administrative support for social workers, counselors and peer support staff from various agencies to meet clients, family members and caregivers. These kinds of programs are in our Jewish community backyards throughout North America. In fact, when Jewish Federations of NorthAmerica solicited 153 North American federations for ideas to feature at this year's G.A., to be held Sunday to Tuesday in National Harbor, Md., we received 250 submissions, selecting 50 to showcase. By featuring these 50, we'll be giving representatives from across North America the opportunity to gather ideas, share stories and question their colleagues on what worked for them, what didn't and what they learned along the way. It's collaboration at its best. And that's what the General Assembly is all about: Federa- tions are able to amplify the successes of their own com- munities to others, and think about the ways we can have a greater impact on the issues and concerns we share. That's the value of collabo- ration. And the collaboration extends to the global Jewish community, whether it's aid- ing Israelis under rocket fire, helping to fund Jewish sum- mer camps and other identity programs in the former Soviet Union, or assisting elderly afraid to leave their homes in Ukraine. As atall G.A.s, thisyearwe'll hear from top U.S. figures-- including Vice President Joe Biden and Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan--internation- ally renowned journalists, and game-changing innovators in philanthropy, education and Jewish life. We'll also hear compel- ling stories from some of the millions overseas whose lives we've touched this year, including Jews from Europe who are fighting the rising tide of anti-Semitism and Is- raelis from the resilient South. We will hear from Israel's U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, the top editors of Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post, and students defending Israel on college campuses. But most of all we'll hear from each other, gathering as one big family in our "Back- yard"--where the physical space has been transformed to foster and support conversa- tions and schmoozing. The G.A. Backyard trans- forms the traditional exhibit hall into a themed, welcoming area. Registration, exhibit booths, conversation areas, game areas, food areas and stadium-seating conversation pits will create the kind of casual meeting space where participants can, well, hang out and network. It's an opportunity to learn from our successes and failures, exchanging ideas and offering guidance; to embrace a new age and a new way of thinking. And of course, being togeth- er will fuel our "neshamot," our souls, allowing us to return to our communities renewed and inspired. Gerrald (Jerry) Silverman is president and CEO and Michael Siegal is chair of the board of trustees, respectively, of the Jewish Federations of North America.