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Anti-Israel Church Activists Plan Bubble Trouble for SodaStream

"It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- A Hollywood actress and a kitchen appliance manufacturer are finding themselves in hot water with anti-Israel church activists.

Groups including the Palestinian liberation theology group Sabeel and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO) were incensed after Scarlett Johansson signed on earlier this month as spokesperson for SodaStream. The company has been targeted as part of a boycott of all Israeli products coming from the Palestinian territories. USCEIO counts among its coalition members several agencies and caucuses within the United Methodist Church, as well as 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.

Johansson, who is slated to appear in SodaStream's Super Bowl advertising, has defended the company, resigning from her 8-year role with charity Oxfam, which objected to her affiliation with the company.

Activists have promoted a three-pronged strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, specifically calling for church agencies to divest themselves of holdings in Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar, which all sell non-lethal equipment used by the Israeli military.

Church activists unsuccessfully pushed for divestment at the United Methodist General Conference and Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in 2012. The issue is expected to once again come before the 221st General Assembly held from June 14-21 in Detroit, Michigan.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment.

    "Churches can seek to be fair brokers between Israelis and Palestinians, or they can immediately marginalize their voice by solely blaming one side.

    "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?"