Ever the optimist, a week ago as I wondered what choice Scarlett would make, knowing “something’s gotta break” between now and the Superbowl. Somehow I held out hope it wouldn’t turn out this way. Scarlett made her choice. She’s throwing in the towel, ending her relationship with Oxfam and staking her career, reputation, and god knows what else (morals come to mind) with the Israeli occupation and SodaStream.
Late Wednesday West Coast time the Associated Press broke the news. A statement released by a spokesperson for her cited “a fundamental difference of opinion” about the issues raised by her recent decision to serve as “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream, a company that manufactures its home carbonation contraptions in an illegal settlement on the West Bank.
From the AP report, which was written by Derrik J. Lang
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with a humanitarian group after being criticized over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.A statement released by Johansson’s spokesman Wednesday said the 29-year-old actress has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.“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.In response to the criticism, Johansson said last week she was a “supporter of economic co-operation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”
Am I disappointed?
yeah Heck no. It’s raining men. Scarlett is ‘proud of her efforts’ in behalf of Oxfam she claims they part ways over:
a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
Oh really? Truth aside, this exposure is a free-for-all PR bonanza for the BDS movement.
One mid-level Palestinian employee who spoke to Reuters outside the plant, away from the bosses, painted a far less perfect picture, however.
“There’s a lot of racism here,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can’t ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced.”
Israeli labor watchdog Kav LaOved says a lack of oversight over enforcement of minimum wages and worker rights in West Bank factories reflects Israel’s pro-settler policies.
“The government wants incentives for Israelis to come and build and expand there. The government has demonstrated very clearly that companies in the West Bank will be allowed to have cheap labor,” Kav LaOved head Hanna Zohar told Reuters……
“Of course there are some (Palestinian) people who are gainfully employed by settlements,” said the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, when asked about the ethics of firms like SodaStream.
“But the alternative of being able to use more than the 40 percent of the territory which is now open for use for Palestinians could potentially give much, much, much more economic benefit to the people living in the area,” he said.
Amazing how a tenacious Reuters journo can blast a hole through colonialist lies and plummet a million bucks worth of PR efforts from world class professional hasbarists. (And note bloggers were on the story months ago.)
In his must read editorial, Palestinian American English professor Dr. Jamil Khader eviscerates Johansson in his essential decimation of her claims SodaStream is an example of “economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine”. On Al Jazeera picked up by Yahoo News:
Her ludicrous claims are nothing but a recycling of the same tired racist arguments that white slave owners in the American South circulated in order to justify their noxious antebellum regime. Slave owners even concocted perfectly outlandish claims about the rights, privileges and benefits their slaves enjoyed under slavery.
Indeed, for them, their slaves were much better off than many Africans or Blacks anywhere in the world. During the Jim Crow era, moreover, American businesses employed African-American workers, while upholding the oppressive segregation system in the American South.
Furthermore, new life is breathed into these narratives in a post-racial United States, where any struggle for political power in the republic is displaced onto other terrains that entertain and delight, but obfuscate the fundamental antagonism. Newt Gingrich, for instance, once used a basketball analogy to describe racial relations in a post-racial US. For him, a black basketball player passing the ball to his white teammate serves a shining example of racial harmony and cooperation.
The only thing these analogies do is de-politicise the brutality of a colonial or racist regime. They translate its contentious political realities into a spectacle of (athletic) entertainment or cultural festivities that celebrate our respect for the law and our common humanity. However, these flawed analogies do not only displace the actual oppressive structures of slavery and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They also transmute the troubled relations between oppressors and oppressed, into opposed but equal teams who voluntarily accept to play by the same rules of the game.
…… to speak of cooperation in those terms is obscene.
Last but not least for diehards,
Scarlett’s SodaStream’s stock is still on plunge mode. Analyst Andrew Marder, writing for the nationally syndicated investment online mag Motley Fool: Did SodaStream Get Lost in Translation? (their bold)
In Lost in Translation, Scarlett Johansson plays an American newlywed who has followed her husband to Tokyo while he photographs a Japanese rock band. She meets Bill Murray, who’s playing a slightly sadder version of Bill Murray. The two wander through Tokyo, building a strong personal relationship even as their connection to the outside world remains loose and disconnected. SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA ) is apparently the new Bill Murray.
The carbonator announced a new partnership with Johansson, setting her up as the company’s first brand ambassador…Days after the announcement, SodaStream’s stock fell more than 25% when the company announced an update to its fiscal year results. It feels very much like SodaStream has wandered off into the night in a land it doesn’t understand, staring at Johansson’s face as the rest of the world moves on to new things……
After the update, SodaStream’s stock tanked, and it’s now down 25% on the year. Yesterday, Barclays piled on, cutting the stock’s price target from $100 per share to $55. Ouch.
Better options are out there
While SodaStream has been lumped in with growth stocks for some time now, it just isn’t growing. In Lost in Translation, Murray ends up with the wrong woman, because it seems like the right thing to do. That’s a short-term investment. To get beyond the ups and downs of SodaStream, consider reaching out to companies with stronger brands. SodaStream has said it wants to “normalize” the brand, making it a household name. If that happens, I’ll reevaluate the company’s strength. For now, though, I’m happy to leave Scarlett at the bar with Bill.
Dr. Khader says, “Let’s take it to the Super Bowl.” I’m geared up, it’s game on.
Update: Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s resignation:
Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions.
While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. 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. Ms. Johansson has worked with Oxfam since 2005 and in 2007 became a Global Ambassador, helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty.