(JNS.org) A delegation of 14 clergy and lay leaders from Presbyterian Church USA, which has a history of anti-Israel sentiment, visited the SodaStream factory in Israel this week in an effort to better understand the region. SodaStream, the popular beverage carbonation company, has garnered headlines recently over the signing of Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson as its spokeswoman. Johansson stepped down as a global ambassador for the human rights group Oxfam International, which had criticized her for her role with the company that operates a factory located over the Green Line in the Jewish community of Ma’ale Adumim.
The Presbyterian Church, which has been highly critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians for years, recently published an anti-Israel study guide called Zionism Unsettled and may also vote to endorse boycotts of Israel at its upcoming summer convention. The visit to SodaStream was organized by the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL).
SodaStream, despite its controversial location, employs 500 Palestinian Arabs among its 1,300 workers. The company touts itself as a model for cooperation and business between Israelis and Palestinians.