Latest update: February 2nd, 2014
While most Israel supporters were celebrating the rebuff of Oxfam International and the rest of the anti-Israel crowd by movie actress Scarlett Johansson, several anti-Israel church groups had the opposite reaction.
When SodaStream, the company that produces a home-use product to make carbonated drinks, announced that Johansson was its new spokesperson a few weeks ago, members of the BDS movement – Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel – cried foul. SodaStream has been a popular target of the BDS crowd both because it has a manufacturing plant in the disputed territories and because it is a highly visible product.
It doesn’t matter to the BDS crowd that, as Johansson pointed out, SodaStream employs large numbers of Palestinian Arabs who are paid the same salaries and receive the same benefits as do Israeli workers. The BDS crowd would prefer those Arabs join the huge percentage of unemployed amongst their brethren.
The church groups involved in the BDS crowd include the Palestinian liberation theology group Sabeel, and several agencies and caucuses within the United Methodist Church, along with the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel Network and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, all of which are members of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO).
Anti-Israel church groups sought to pass a divestment resolution at the United Methodist General Conference and Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in 2012. The measure failed, but informed observers such as those at the Institute on Religion and Democracy anticipate another divestment measure will be introduced and voted on at this years General Assembly which will be held in Detroit, Michigan in June.
“It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment,” IRD President Mark Tooley commented on anti-Israel activity by certain church groups.
“Why are these church activists typically silent on grievous violations in Syria, Egypt and bombings in Kenya and Nigeria? Is the focus here on human rights violations, or is it actually opposition to Israel?”
For those unfamiliar with some of those anti-Israel church groups, just consider what members of that anti-Israel church group Friends of Sabeel came up with to sing at a seminar held at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in November, 2012, as reported at the IRD site:
“When Zionists Came to Palestine” (Tune: When Israel was in Egypt land)
When Zionists came to Palestine, Free Palestinians now. They said, “let all the land be mine,” Free Palestinians now. Tell all Israel, end the occupation now. Israel, Bibi, end the occupation now.
“Ode to Liberation” (Tune: Ode to Joy)
Israel, end your occupation,
There’s no peace on stolen land.
Well sing out for liberation,
‘till you hear and understand
Ethnic cleansing and apartheid
should belong to history.
Human rights cannot be silenced,
Palestine will soon be free.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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