What’s the killer news angle here that’s made this a global story? Is it the novelty of a celebrity refusing to budge under pressure in opposing a bit of left-wing orthodoxy? Is it the drama of Israeli/Palestinian politics intersecting with A-list Hollywood? Or is it the simple impulse among “world” section news editors to brighten up the dreary usual fare with pics of Scarlett?
I don’t know much but I do know that when a major movie sex symbol stands up for Israel, it’s capital-b Blogworthy. Coming soon, hopefully: Angeliina Jolie stands up for the Second Amendment.
“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the statement said. “She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam.”
Earlier this month, “The Avengers” and “Her” actress signed on as the first global brand ambassador of SodaStream International Ltd., and she’s set to appear in an ad for the at-home soda maker during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians.
Johansson issued a statement last Friday giving her reasons for signing with SodaStream. The West Bank factory is an example of Israeli/Palestinian cooperation, she argued. Workers there come from both populations and receive equal pay and benefits. The company’s success is proof of what they can do together. Her critics counter that SodaStream wouldn’t be as attractive to Palestinian workers if Israel hadn’t choked off Palestinian industry and that the comparatively lower wage paid there is essentially SodaStream’s way of capitalizing on illegal labor. In fact, the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” types have been after the company for more than a year, vowing before last year’s Super Bowl (when SodaStream ran its first SB ad) that “It’s time to burst SodaStream’s bubble. There’s nothing environmentally friendly about military occupation.”
Palestinian workers at the plant disagree:
“Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer,” says a young man shivering in the pre-dawn darkness in Azzariah, a West Bank town cut off from work opportunities in Jerusalem by the concrete Israeli separation wall. Previously, he earned 20 shekels ($6) a day plucking and cleaning chickens; now he makes nearly 10 times that at SodaStream, which also provides transportation, breakfast, and lunch.
As a few dozen men in hoodies and work coats trickle out of the alleys to the makeshift bus stop where they wait for their ride to the factory, another adds, “If SodaStream closes, we would be sitting in the streets doing nothing.”…
Speaking anonymously on a largely deserted street, with no Israeli SodaStream employees present, all but one of those interviewed said they opposed the boycott, given the lack of alternative job opportunities in the West Bank. That underscores Israeli claims that a boycott would be counterproductive, undermining the cooperation and prosperity that could boost peace prospects in the region…
“I would love to work for SodaStream. They’re quite privileged. People look up to them,” Mr. Jibarat says. “It’s not the people who want to boycott, it’s the officials.”
Johansson hasn’t said anything that I’m aware of equating her support for SodaStream with support for Israel but it’s curious that a small company would land a big name American star as spokesman. (How often do A-listers hawk products on American TV even for U.S. corporations?) She surely knew that SodaStream was under fire from the BDSers when she signed with them. The fact that she went ahead anyway and is now willing to kiss off Oxfam over it means this is about more than an endorsement deal.
I assume the boycott of “Her” is next. Don’t join in. It’s a wonderful movie.