Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interfaith Financial War on Israel

by Ryan Mauro


For the anti-Israel interfaith coalition, the Super Bowl wasn’t only a time of festivity—it was an opportunity to raise support for a financial war. After learning that a commercial was to be aired by SodaStream, a company based in the Mishor Adumim settlement, an Islamist-allied bloc named the Interfaith Boycott Coalition urged consumers to boycott its product and started a petition asking stores not to carry it.

The Interfaith Boycott Coalition is the “faith-based wing” of the “U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.” It includes Jewish Voice for Peace, the Presbyterian Church USA’s Israel-Palestine Mission Network, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship’s Palestine-Israel Network, United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network and Response, the United Methodist Kairos Response and other non-Muslim groups and leaders.

Islamist groups with Muslim Brotherhood links are increasingly working through interfaith blocs. American Muslims for Palestine, which has Brotherhood-linked officials that defend Hamas, is a proud partner of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition. It has also been endorsed by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

The website of the SodaStream boycott showcases support from Imam Zaid Shakir, an Islamist cleric with a history of incendiary rhetoric. Audio recently surfaced from 1992 of him calling for the reestablishment of the Caliphate so it can wage jihad against the enemies of Islam. Another highlighted supporter is Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She has tweeted her support for Hamas and the elimination of Israel.

It also boasts of support from Karen Danielson, the Outreach Director of the Muslim American Society, which federal prosecutors say “was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” Convicted terrorist and admitted U.S. Muslim Brotherhood member Abdurrahman Alamoudi said last January, “Everyone knows that MAS [Muslim American Society] is Muslim Brotherhood.”

“This new interfaith community represents a different model, one that stands on common values of freedom, justice and equality. This is what real interfaith cooperation looks like [emphasis original],” boasts the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

The SodaStream manufacturing plant is located about 15 minutes from Jerusalem in the Mishor Adumim settlement. Contrary to what the Interfaith Boycott Coalition says, it is anything but a symbol of oppression.

The plant employs 500 Palestinians from the West Bank and 400 from East Jerusalem, who work peacefully alongside 200 Israeli Jews and foreign workers. The Palestinians are paid the same as the Jews, given the same medical insurance and Muslim women are seen wearing the hijab at work. The plant even has a mosque in addition to its synagogue. SodaStream has another factory in Galilee that employs hundreds of Arabs with Israeli citizenship.

“Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has repeatedly called for the 10,000 plus Palestinians working in the settlements not to show up for work. Not one has not shown up for work,” says Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumim is a microcosm of what peace will eventually look like if it ever arrives. The Jews and Palestinians are working together, side-by-side, benefiting from each other’s labor. They even eat together during lunch. The plant and, more broadly, the settlement, wouldn’t be an issue if a prospective Palestinian state would protect it and treasure its potential, instead of viewing it as foreign entity worthy of dismantlement.

The components of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition have a record of anti-Israel activism in conjunction with Brotherhood-linked groups. Jewish Voice for Peace, for example, helped organize a “No Blank Check for Israel” rally in Washington D.C. on January 19.

Other members, such as the Presbyterian Church USA, went after Rep. Michele Bachmann and four other members of Congress who dared to inquire about the influence of Brotherhood-linked groups in the U.S. government.

The interfaith campaign against Bachmann specifically defended the Islamic Society of North America, which U.S. government labeled as a U.S. Brotherhood entity in the Holy Land Trial foundation. The group is also listed in a 1991 U.S. Brotherhood memo as one of its fronts. Last month, ISNA sponsored an event at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington D.C. about the “Islamophobia Network” that mentions these uncomfortable facts.

A similar interfaith coalition was deployed when it was reported that the New York Police Department had shown a documentary titled The Third Jihad to law enforcement personnel. The movie points out the Brotherhood origins of these same groups that are driving the anti-Israel interfaith activism. The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society signed a letter decrying the film as “bigoted propaganda.”

The fact that this coalition decided to boycott SodaStream, overlooking other companies like those doing business with Iran, is reflective of the unstated purpose that is often behind interfaith engagement: Hostility to Israel and American foreign policy.

This article was sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Democracy. 

Ryan Mauro


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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