Rumors that Starbucks is in advanced talks to buy a 10 percent stake in the Israeli company SodaStream shows that the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement is losing its battle, according to former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger.
This “puts BDS in the proper context,” he said, stressing that boycotting Israel has not been successful in business or academia.
SodaStream garnered headlines when actress Scarlett Johansson became its spokesperson and word filtered out that the home soda machine factory was located in the West Bank.
According to reports in Globes, an Israeli business newspaper, Starbucks and SodaStream are in talks that could produce an official announcement in the near future.
A spokeswoman at Starbucks refused to comment. Efforts to reach SodaStream were not successful.
“In the American market, definitely, but even the Europeans, Chinese, South Koreans and Russian [markets], the boycott is not working,” said Ettinger, who heads the company Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative.
“Starbucks is not particularly a Zionist company,” and the fact that it is considering this purchase “purely for business reasons” shows that it is not concerned with possible political problems or boycotts, explained Ettinger.
Moran Stern, lecturer at Georgetown University’s Program for Jewish Civilization in the School of Foreign Service, also believes Starbucks is only considering financial matters and not political problems.
“People view it as a business issue, not a political one,” he said. He noted that there have been at least two boycott attempts of SodaStream in France in the past, but neither was successful.
Stern called any boycott of SodaStream for humanitarian reasons hypocritical, noting that the company has 1,300 employees, of which 500 are Palestinians who live in the West Bank and are residents of the Palestinian Authority. Another 450 employees are Israeli Arabs, he said.
“You have a beautiful coexistence here that I doubt you have in other industries,” he said, adding that SodaStream enables about 1,000 Arab households to live. If it left the Adumim Industrial Park in the West Bank, comparable salaries with health care, which SodaStream provides, would be very hard to find.