According to the NY Times, the international aid and development group Oxfarm International ”has distanced itself from one of its own global ambassadors, the actress Scarlett Johansson, since she agreed to become the face of SodaStream, an Israeli company that makes products in a settlement built on West Bank territory Israel has occupied since 1967.”
How deep is that cut, you ask? Check out the Oxfam web page on Johansson:
A long-time supporter of Oxfam, Scarlett was motivated to get involved by the organization’s response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.And then at the bottom of the page, this:
In 2007, she met tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka who were rebuilding their lives after losing their families and livelihoods, and saw how Oxfam projects such as village irrigation schemes and schools are helping to reconstruct devastated communities.
Scarlett’s appeal to US consumers on behalf of Oxfam Unwrapped drove over $100,000 in gifts for Mothers Day 2009 and generated worldwide media coverage for the gift catalogue’s Christmas promotion.
In 2011, Scarlett joined Oxfam’s GROW campaign, saying: “Sharing food is one of life’s pleasures… All of us, from Kentucky to Kenya, deserve enough to eat.”
Scarlett has recently supported Oxfam’s Typhoon Haiyan Appeal. She starred a short video urging people to make a donation.
Since she was named as an Oxfam Ambassador in 2007, Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson has packed numerous fundraising, advocacy and promotional activities into her busy schedule.
Association with Israeli company, SodaStreamNow for a surprise video: actress and environmentalist Susan Sarandon at the International Housewares Association Home and Housewares show in Chicago in 2011, promoting SodaStream. How embarrassing. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKIcLHikOZY
We are proud of our relationship with Scarlett Johansson who has worked with Oxfam since 2005 to support Oxfam’s mission to end poverty and injustice… Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors. However Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law… We have made our concerns known to Ms. Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.
Notes the Times: “The charity’s response came after more than a week of pressure from activists seeking to end Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank through a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions, known as B.D.S., modeled on the 1980s movement that helped undermine international acquiescence to apartheid in South Africa.”
SodaStream is a major threat to the left in both Europe and the U.S., because it goes against their narrative. Like other Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria that offer good employment for good wages to more than 30,000 Palestinians, SodaStream presents a path to peace that does not require making anyone give up anything other than their antiquated notions and penchant for violence.
The Left can’t tolerate that, because in leftist dialectics there must be a struggle, to destroy the evil system that is, ushering in the utopian system that will be. I’ve long learned that any politicians who uses the words “struggle” and “fight,” as in “I will fight for better wages,” is a leftist. He can be a Republican – in his persona he’s a Bolshevik. I prefer politicians who talk about building stuff, cooperating, protecting rights.
Over the past 40 years or so, Palestinian businesses that have cooperated with their Israeli counterparts have thrived, creating a class of Arab millionaires who have much more to expect from an alliance with Israel than with living under the PLO thugs of Ramallah. Likewise, working class men are eager to find employment in Israel, regardless of borders. To them, every time either Hamas or the Muqata heats up the violence, it means going without a paycheck.
The Left has no answer to that. Instead it targets both sources of prosperity in Palestinian society: Israeli businesses and the burgeoning Palestinian middle class.
It’s interesting to note that of the entire work force at SodaStream, Stephanie Westbrook, writing for the Electronic Intifada (SodaStream “treats us like slaves,” says Palestinian factory worker), has managed to dig up only one employee with bad things to say against the seltzer maker. He is presented only as M., suggesting, of course, that he would lose his job as soon as his bosses found out he blew the whistle on them.
But even if this M. exists, the complaints he brings up seem very tame. Only Jews get to manage the place, while Palestinians have to do all the heavy lifting. OK, I’m sure the picture is not quite this black and white, and there are probably Palestinians in management – but even if he’s right, and it’s not nice to run one’s business this way – where are the lawsuits?
Israeli NGOs are available to the entire Arab population of the PA to assist them in suing any Israeli who mistreated them, real or imagined. In many cases the Arabs in question don’t even know they have a case before the NGO rep, paid by European donors, informs him so. So why aren’t the Israeli courts full of discriminating suits against SodaStream?
M. also talked of discriminatory hiring practices, explaining that “most Israelis are hired through the company directly,” while West Bank Palestinians require “a special security permit to be employed.”
No kidding. And do you know why this is done? So that your PLO folks won’t infiltrate the factory floor and blow it up. That’s not discrimination, that’s self defense.
Finally, M. complains: “There is a full discrimination against the [Muslim] workers and we are denied our right to practice our religion.”
Restrictions are especially severe on the assembly line, where most West Bank Palestinians work. M. explained that they are only allowed to pray if prayer times fall “during their lunch break,” otherwise “they are not allowed to pray at all.”
Of course, it’s called pray on your own time—something religious Jewish employees around the planet do every day, scheduling their Mincha prayer to fall on their lunch break.
But it’s good that these attempts to smear SodaStream are out there, showing how little real discrimination the Left can point to, because, let’s face it, in the entire PA there you won’t find a more attractive employer, and the locals are voting with their legs.
Ms. Johansson, I’m a huge fan of your movies, and I see no conflict at all between you work for needy folks around the globe and your work to improve the lives of thousands of Palestinians who benefit from SodaStream.
Give ‘Em Hell, Scarlett!