January 31, 2013 – In keeping with the denomination’s policy of boycotting goods from illegal Israeli settlements, United Methodists today were asked to avoid SodaStream products advertised during Sunday’s Super Bowl. Though the company claims its products are made in Israel, SodaStream’s main plant is in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim deep inside the Palestinian West Bank.
The segregated colony is outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders on occupied land near the Jordan Valley. Segregated Israeli roads that cut across Palestinian territory to reach it effectively divide the West Bank. According to Mayor Benny Kashriel, “Ma’aleh Adumim was established to break Palestinian contiguity,” thus making a Palestinian state impossible.
The US government opposes Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, yet this building continues. Settlements are illegal under international law, and Israeli laws are often not enforced in the occupied territories. This allows companies that operate in settlements to violate labor and environmental standards that apply to firms inside Israel. By operating in a settlement, SodaStream directly sustains Israel’s illegal and discriminatory settlement policy.
The alert on SodaStream products was issued by United Methodist Kairos Response, a global group of advocates for a just peace in Israel and Palestine. UMKR member Susanne Hoder, who has visited SodaStream’s settlement factory, said, “What may seem like a creative novelty is actually a crass attempt to profit from oppression. While claiming to be environmentally friendly, the company supports a network of settlements built on stolen Palestinian land that pollute the groundwater and seriously damage the fragile ecosystem of the West Bank.”
The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Canada, and the World Council of Churches are among many faith-based and secular groups urging a boycott of settlement products. UMKR is a member of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition, a project of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.