As if her otherworldly beauty and screen presence were not enough, here is another reason to love Scarlett Johansson: Oxfam, of which she was an ambassador, hinted that she should cut her ties with SodaStream on the basis that it maintains factories in Israeli settlements and she responded by cutting her ties with Oxfam!
What’s not to love about this story? A worthy charity shakes its big head in disapproval at a celeb who has dared to do things for a company that works in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, no doubt expecting the celeb to freak out, issue a tear-drenched apology and promise never again to rub shoulders, or anything else, with these evil Israelis. But instead the celeb basically tells the worthy charity to get stuffed and says she will carry on working with and promoting the Israeli company.
Ever since she was signed up as the face of SodaStream, Ms Johansson has had a tsunami of flak from campaigners who think that buying Israeli stuff, working with Israeli academics or attending Israeli theatre performances is the very worst thing a human being could ever do. You know the kind: they stand outside Marks & Spencer’s on Oxford Street warning all whom enter that this evil shop sells blood-stained products (ie, stuff made in Israel), and they screech and wail, these philistines for Palestine, when an Israeli violinist starts playing at the Proms. I mean, can you imagine it – a musician from Israel inside the Royal Albert Hall? *Shudder*.
And so it was that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for decent-minded Westerners to refuse to contaminate their body, souls or minds with any grub or books from Israel, called on Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Ms Johansson. Oxfam expressed its concern at Ms Johansson’s lack of guilt over advertising SodaStream, asking her to “[consider] the implications”, and said it was thinking about what this all means “for Ms Johansson’s role as Oxfam global ambassador”. And then, brilliantly, totally stealing Oxfam’s puffed-up thunder, Ms Johansson’s people issued a statement saying: “Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years.” Sassy Actress 1, Self-Important Moaners About Israel 0.
Note that among Johannson’s supporters, one can find–wait for it!—Palestinians:
“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.”
Of course, I imagine that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement will keep on trying to achieve relevance. No matter how inconvenient the facts, and no matter how many inconvenient facts there are, the BDS movement’s hatred of Israel and Israel-supporters will be enough to fool its ranks into believing that they are actually engaged in a worthwhile project. But the rest of us should know better.