There is not a lot of good news coming out of the Middle East these days, but there is some. CBN News posted a story today about SodaStream, the company that makes a do-it-yourself-at-home soda machine. The company is located in Mishor Adumim Industrial Park, just outside of Jerusalem, in Israel, in the West Bank. in a building that used to be a munitions factory.
The article reports:
“We employ 500 Palestinians here. Side by side, we have 350 Israeli Arabs and another 300 Israeli Jews. And we get along together. They’re not killing each other! They go to lunch break. We break bread together and we get to know each other,” he said.
SodaStream pays Israeli wages — four times what workers would earn in the Palestinian Authority, where unemployment is 30 percent. And the workers say they’re happy, too.
Yousef Besharat is a Palestinian Arab who works at the factory. He told CBN News his salary helped him to build a home in just a year. He said there’s no discrimination between Jewish and Arab workers at the plant.
The article further reports:
Birnbaum gave CBN’s Ross a tour of the factory. He said he calls the room where they assemble the valves “the United Nations.”
“We have people from all over here. You’ll see Palestinians and Israelis. You’ll see Russian immigrants and Ethiopians, Bedouins, women and men. I love this hall,” Birnbaum said.
He introduced CBN News to the shift manager, whom he called “a wonderful Palestinian fellow who started as an entry level and built himself up here at SodaStream in the last few years to shift manager.”
Nabil Besharat is a father of six who has worked at the plant for four years. As shift manager, Besharat is in charge of about 25 people, including Jews and Arabs.
Nabil says he came to the company “for good opportunities, for a good job, for good money,” and he found those things here.
“We work here with Jews, with Christians, with Muslims — all — with Druze,” Nabil told CBN News. They don’t even mention the word conflict, he added.
Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where people of all faiths are welcome to worship according to their own tradition. It is wonderful to see that they are also willing to encourage Arabs and Jews to work together to manufacture a great product and to build bridges between the two cultures.