SodaStream 'Does More for Peace than Any Diplomat'
As his tour of Israel comes to a close, former Akansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took the opportunity to visit the SodaStream factory in Kfar Adumim, to see firsthand how Israelis and Palestinians are overcoming a legacy of conflict to work together - and laying a potential path to peaceful coexistence which has eluded the most seasoned professional negotiators.
SodaStream was at the center of a media storm earlier this year, when Hollywood star Scarlet Johansson left her role as an ambassador for Oxfam after the NGO attempted to force her to drop her sponsorship of the company. Johansson was pressured to dump SodaStream due to the location of the very factory which Huckabee visited along with several American Jewish leaders, situated "behind the Green Line" in Judea-Samaria.
But the prominent conservative pundit, who is rumored to be considering a second run from the presidency in 2016, said such sentiments couldn't be more wrong.
"I would say that the employees of SodaStream in this factory do more in a day than all the diplomats from the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have done in the past 10 years," remarked Huckabee after meeting with Jewish and Arab employees.
"I wish all of the people who have been critical - not just of SodaStream but critical of Israeli businesses... would come here, I wish they would see firsthand," he added, noting that Israel Jews and Arabs, along with Palestinian Arabs, are all treated equally.
"It's real easy to have a misperception... people come and see it, it destroys the narrative of unfair treatment... they're paid so well, I've put in an application myself!" he quipped.
Huckabee also visited the nearby city of Maale Adumim, where he met with community leaders including Mayor Benny Cashriel.
SodaStream President Yonah Lloyd echoed those sentiments, noting that far from being an "obstacle" to peace, building Jewish communities and businesses in the Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria is in fact the way to achieve peaceful coexistence.
"If there's going to be peace it's going to come from a unified hope, based on economic stability, based on the fact that there's good work, good pay, good opportunity, equal to everybody," he said.