This is a blip — trade with the UK is

COM­MENT

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ALEX BRUMMER

THE CLO­SURE by So­daStream of its Ecostream shop and the re­ported de­ci­sion by John Lewis to stop sell­ing the Is­raeli com­pany’s drinks prod­ucts can hardly be re­garded as a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment. Not sur­pris­ingly it has been hailed as a great vic­tory for the BDS move­ment.

The two years of con­certed protests against the store in Brighton clearly had an im­pact on in­come. But the op­po­si­tion also had the pos­i­tive ef­fect of gal­vanis­ing the lo­cal Jewish com­mu­nity into ac­tion, form­ing the Sus­sex Friends of Is­rael which has pro­vided lively counter-demon­stra­tions and strongly made Is­rael’s case.

In the wider con­text of UK-Is­rael trade re­la­tions the clo­sure of one store in a provin­cial city with a Green coun­cil and MP with a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing sym­pa­thetic to the Pales­tinian cause, will, over time, be seen as no more than a blip.

As­sid­u­ous work by Bri­tain’s am­bas­sador to Is­rael, Mathew Gould, and strong sup­port for Is­rael on Down­ing Street has seen Bri­tish-Is­rael trade flour­ish­ing. Over each of the past two years it has reached £2 bil­lion and is pro­jected to rise to £3 bil­lion by 2015. Most en­cour­ag­ingly, Bri­tain is tap­ping into Is­rael’s high-tech ex­per­tise in build­ing its own tech­nol­ogy hub in Lon­don.

So­daStream, a com­pany which can trace its ori­gins back to Lon­don in the early years of the 20th century, has sought to bridge the eco­nomic gap be­tween Is­rael and the West Bank with its plant, Mishor Adu­min, that em­ploys 500 Pales­tini­ans, in­clud­ing se­nior man­age­ment. De­spite the best ef­forts of the BDS move­ment, funded by the Pales­tinian Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign, its prod­ucts re­main highly pop­u­lar across Europe.

Aside from the dis­com­fort of the boy­cott cam­paign, So­daStream has big commercial chal­lenges at present. A year or so ago it was seen as a po­ten­tial takeover tar­get for Pepsi-Cola. But since then Pepsi’s main ri­val, Co­caCola, has bought a sub­stan­tial stake in Keurig Green Moun­tain, a commercial ri­val to So­daStream. The move has led to a down­grade in the Is­raeli com­pany’s shares on the Nas­daq stock mar­ket.

There is no doubt that BDS cam­paingers have been step­ping up their ac­tiv­i­ties against com­pa­nies seen to have a West Bank con­nec­tion. The se­cu­rity firm G4S has been tar­geted for its man­age­ment of Is­raeli pris­ons hold­ing Pales­tini­ans. Sains­bury’s, like the Co-op be­fore it, is fac­ing crit­i­cism for sell­ing Is­rael and West Bank agricul-

Clock­wise­from­top: Is­raeli flags fly in a counter-de Arab­sandJews­work­to­geth­er­atSo­daStream’sW

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