Skip to main content

Last June, the Israeli anti-occupation group All That's Left marked the anniversary of Israel's military occupation of the West Bank by "re-painting the Green Line" on the international border between Israel and Palestine, highlighting the border that supporters of Israel's occupation of the West Bank are always trying to erase.

Unfortunately, celebrity Scarlett Johansson didn't get the memo. As a result, Johansson will no longer be a "global ambassador" for Oxfam, because, as Oxfam noted,

Johansson's role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam global ambassador. Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, 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.
Johansson's statements on the controversy have tried to obscure a crucial issue: what relationship should people who support the two-state solution have to Israeli settlements in the West Bank?

On January 24, as the controversy "bubbled," Johansson wrote on Huffington Post:

"I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine... I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future."
Clearly, Johansson wants us to believe that she supports a two state solution to the conflict.

In a statement Wednesday announcing that Johansson and Oxfam were parting ways, Johansson's representative said, "[Johansson] and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement."

This statement was deeply misleading. It was not "a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement" that led to the split between Johansson and Oxfam. It was a fundamental difference of opinion on the proper relationship of people who support the two-state solution to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Oxfam's view is that someone who supports the two-state solution should not be promoting economic ties with Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Johansson's view, apparently, is that it's ok to claim that you support a two-state solution and then turn around and promote economic ties with Israeli settlements in the West Bank, thereby bolstering and normalizing the occupation.

Oxfam's view is normative among sincere advocates of a two-state solution. Johansson's apparent view is marginal among sincere advocates of a two-state solution.

For example, the mainstream Israeli peace group Peace Now has supported the boycott of Israeli settlement products. So has its American counterpart, Americans for Peace Now. As APN President Debra DeLee said in July 2011,

"Today we join Peace Now in urging all those who care about Israel's character as a democracy to boycott settlements and products made in settlements.  Settlements are not Israel.  Such a boycott is the best way to show our support for Israel and to register our commitment to Israeli democracy." [my emphasis]
As Debra DeLee wrote this week in the Forward:
Under normal circumstances, I would buy SodaStream and recommend it to my friends. But the circumstances under which the product is made are not normal. And because Israel's occupation of the West Bank is such an anomaly, as much as I may like Scarlett (and seltzer), I will not buy SodaStream, not until it moves its headquarters away from a West Bank settlement. [my emphasis]
By claiming to support a two-state solution while helping to bolster the occupation, Scarlett Johansson is acting as a Susan Collins for the occupation, pretending to be moderate, while acting to bolster extremists.

Oxfam did the right thing in taking a principled stand. You can thank Oxfam for their principled stand at MoveOn here and on Thunderclap here. The Thunderclap is set to go off on Sunday evening during the #SuperBowl. Let's extend that conversation about the two-state solution that Johansson called for to people watching her TV commercial for SodaStream.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 7:45 AM PT: Some people in the comments noted that they had been thinking of purchasing SodaStream machines and said that now they were not going to.

This reminded me of this document from Global Exchange, and I thought some people might find it useful if I included it in the diary:

SodaStream Alternatives

Originally posted to Robert Naiman on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 02:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.


Like Debra DeLee, President of Americans for Peace Now, "I will not buy SodaStream, not until it moves its headquarters away from a West Bank settlement."

64%46 votes
35%25 votes

| 71 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site