Learn how and more from this: The sparkling waters of the West Bank.
SodaStream, as you probably know, is a device for making sparkling water at home — no plastic bottles to schlep and then throw away or send for recycling.
Its CEO, Daniel Birnbaum, an Israeli entrepreneur, a visionary who came up with a wild idea: Open a factory on the West Bank and hire Palestinians. Give them “Israeli wages” which are about four times higher than the average in the territories. Provide them and their extended families with medical insurance, a benefit few employers in the West Bank provide.
Also hire Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews and let them all work together, learn about each other, maybe develop mutual respect and even friendships. What an achievement it would be if the experiment succeeded!
And succeed it did. By 2014, with more than 500 workers, SodaStream was among the largest private employers on the West Bank.
Unsurprisingly, champions of the Palestinian cause denounced Mr. Birnbaum as anti-Palestinian. In particular, advocates for BDS (the campaign to de-legitimize and demonize Israel through boycotts, divestments and sanctions) accused him of stealing Palestinian land, profiting from the “occupation” and exploiting Palestinian workers.
“Suddenly,” Mr. Birnbaum recounted to me over dinner in Tel Aviv three years ago, “I’m a walking war criminal!”
And now read it all. It should be filled with lessons about possibilities that are now afoot, but no chance of that in the world as it is.