Left-Wing, Pro-Palestinian Groups Assail Scarlett Johansson, SodaStream

BDS calls for Oxfam to drop Johansson over endorsement.

A growing anti-Israel movement recently targeted fizzy drink machine maker, SodaStream, and its celebrity spokesperson: Scarlett Johansson.

Johansson, a Jewish-American actress, recently starred in a Super Bowl commercial for the company, which she has referred to as “a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights,” according to The New York Times.

The pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeted the actress over her endorsement of SodaStream, because the Israeli company has a factory in the West Bank. “The BDS movement posted a number of Super Bowl spoof ads on YouTube. One shows Israeli Defense Force soldiers beating Palestinian protesters during a demonstration and Israeli bombs falling on Gaza,” The Jerusalem Post reported.

BDS’s national committee called for Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Johansson over SodaStream, on Jan. 28. The controversy prompted Johansson to resign from Oxfam International, after serving as an ambassador for eight years, to stick by SodaStream.

The BDS movement began pressuring SodaStream in 2011, and organized a demonstration and boycott in Rome as recently as Dec. 7. According to the BDS website, it has targeted SodaStream for an international boycott and there have been more than 50 actions in 6 countries.

BDS promotes the work of terrorists groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, and argues for a “one-state solution” for Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The BDS movement refers to Israel as a “colonial Zionist apartheid regime.”

Although Oxfam denied being connected to BDS, but The Washington Post reported Feb. 4, that NGO Monitor in Jerusalem found documentation of Oxfam’s funding of BDS activity through the Dutch branch of Oxfam.

Oxfam called Johansson’s endorsement of SodaStream “incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador,” because Oxfam opposes businesses “that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.” SodaStream has a factory in a Jewish area of the West Bank, near Mishor Adumim, and employs both Jews and Palestinians.

Christian Science Monitor reported that some Palestinians who work for SodaStream don’t want the company to be boycotted.

Before boycotting, they should think of the workers who are going to suffer,” one man said, according to CSM. Another anonymously said, “If SodaStream closes, we would be sitting in the streets doing nothing.”

The BDS movement doesn’t just target Israeli companies, they have also supported academic and national boycotts of Israel. The American Studies Association has asked its member universities to join the academic boycott of Israel. Eight of the 14 member universities of the ADA’s National Council that approved the boycott have received from than $5.6 million George Soros’ Open Society Foundations since 2000. 

— Julia A. Seymour is Assistant Managing Editor for MRC Business at the Media Research Center. Follow Julia A. Seymour on Twitter.