Palestinian civil society to Oxfam: ‘Match words with action’, break ties with Scarlett Johansson

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Occupied Palestine– The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, including trade unions, political parties, popular committees and NGOs, calls on Oxfam to immediately sever ties with Hollywood actor Scarlett Johansson over her vocal support for illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.[1]

SodaStream markets itself as environmentally friendly, but this hides an ugly truth: the company is a colonial enterprise with its main production facility located in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a war crime.[2]

Johansson’s defense of her public relations role with occupation profiteer SodaStream undermines Oxfam’s stated opposition to economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements. Oxfam cannot credibly oppose illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT, describing them as a root cause for poverty among Palestinians, while maintaining as an ambassador somebody who has deemed it appropriate to describe the establishment of an Israeli settlement factory on land from which Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed as a form of “economic cooperation”.

Oxfam has said in a statement that it is in “dialogue” with Johansson over her SodaStream promotion deal.[3] However it has become increasingly clear that this “dialogue” has not yielded positive results and Johansson’s position has been made crystal clear.

We rebuke Johansson’s condescending remarks that SodaStream is “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine”. This position seems to come directly from the company’s propaganda textbook and has been consistently refuted by Palestinians.[4] It is not for Johansson to lecture Palestinians on what is good for them. Palestinians are not employed in Israeli settlements as a matter of freewill; they are subjects to a captive economy, which settlements have been a key component in decimating,[5] and they have largely lost their lands and sources of income due to Israel’s occupation and colonization.

Palestinian trade unions and civil society organisations have consistently rejected any suggestion that the oppressive reality of living under a brutal occupation — sometimes leaving Palestinians with no choice but to export fresh produce through complicit Israeli companies or work in illegal settlements — is a reason not to take action to end international complicity in human rights violations.[6] Moreover, Palestinian workers employed by SodaStream have explained that they face systematic discrimination and are “treated like slaves”.

SodaStream is a key beneficiary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and of the denial of self-determination to Palestinians. The company benefits from government subsidies and tax-breaks established to encourage businesses to operate in Israeli settlements, allowing them to become viable and flourish.

The land on which SodaStream’s factory operates was forcefully taken from Palestinians. According to Oxfam, the Israeli army forcefully expelled 200 Palestinian families from their homes to make space for the construction of Maale Adumim in the early 1990s.[7] Israel has recently announced a plan to expel another 2,300 Palestinians to make way for the settlement’s growth, stealing more Palestinian land.[8] SodaStream and other companies that operate in illegal Israeli settlements are very much part and parcel of this system of oppression.

In recent days this issue attracted an enormous amount of controversy in the international press as well as in social media with Oxfam being a focus of attention. As a coalition that includes many of Oxfam’s longstanding partners, we contend that there is a clear choice to be made between celebrity and principle. A refusal to part ways with Johansson will tarnish the charity’s credibility among Palestinians and many people of conscience around the world. Oxfam has consistently opposed illegal Israeli settlements and recently made a call to the European Union to “match words with action”[9]. Oxfam must now heed its own advice and do the same.

 


(Originally published at BDSmovement.net )

About Palestinian BDS National Committee

The BDS National Committee (BNC) is the Palestinian coordinating body for the BDS campaign worldwide. For more information, visit www.bdsmovement.net/BNC.

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10 Responses

  1. Krauss
    January 28, 2014, 9:40 am

    A tweet that was RT’d by Max Blumenthal.

    link to twitter.com

    Basically it comes down to the same old thing: money.
    If you want to fundraise, steer clear of Israel.

    This is how “left-wing” organizations sell out their principles for money.
    Oxfam can at least console itself that it isn’t alone in this hypocrisy. Plenty of Hollywood A-listers who fundraise for the poor in Africa one day and go to IDF fundraising dinners the next.

    The PEP syndrome must be broken and to be broken, it must be confronted.

    It’s increasingly clear that Oxfam has chosen profit over principles and is fine with Israeli Apartheid. Should we allow them to get away with this?

    The window of “misunderstanding” is rapidly closing as they cannot put off the inevitable conclusion to their silence and refusal to disawow their connection with a Hollywood A-lister who is unapolegetic in her approval of colonization of Palestinians is by extention something that they if not outright approve of then at least are willing to accept in return of money.

  2. NormanF
    January 28, 2014, 10:27 am

    This is surreal.

    At a time when Palestinian Arabs are starving to death in Syria – BDSers are not concerned with that humanitarian catastrophe.

    N0 – they are outraged that Jews hire Arabs at good wages so they can support themselces and their families. They vent at an Israeli Jewish company that treats its employees decently and makes a popular product that people want to buy.

    The Palestinian Arabs in Yarmouk would love to work for a company like SodaStream. People working together to create a positive future. The BDSers have never hired a single Arab nor improved their well-being anywhere else in the Middle East.

    But they hate the Jews and Israel for making a difference! I like said, juxtapose the image of Arabs being starved to death by an Arab regime with the sight of an Israeli Jewish company treating Arabs with dignity and respect and you can predict which gets BDSers all lit up! That says a lot more about them than it does about SodaStream and the American Jewish ambassador who is its public face.

    And it matters not Maale Adumim was founded in the Judean Desert to the east of Jerusalem where not a single Palestinian Arab has ever lived. It matters not this is one of the “settlement blocs” every one knows Israel would keep in any peace deal. And it matters not that while Israel’s human rights record is far from perfect, its infinitely better in its treatment of Arabs than the way the entire Arab World has treated Arabs.

    But BDSers are not concerned about the human rights of Arabs. They simply want to use Arabs are as their pawns in their war against the Jewish State with absolutely no concern about their well-being. They’re not fit to lecture SodaStream, Johansson and Israel about making the Middle East and by extension, the world a more livable and peaceful place.

    I like I said, its surreal. And that’s not Israel’s fault.

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 28, 2014, 12:24 pm

      “At a time when Palestinian Arabs are starving to death in Syria – BDSers are not concerned with that humanitarian catastrophe.”

      Tell you what, zio. Either get the zionist entity to open its borders to all those starving Palestinians that you seem so intent on having us believe you care about — open up the border and let all those refugees return home — or please shut the fuck up. You are vile to use the suffering of these poor people as a prop to defend this company.

      • ritzl
        January 28, 2014, 12:36 pm

        Bingo. Millions of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries yet NONE in Israel.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 28, 2014, 12:39 pm

        woody, for that full-on hasbrat gag reflex this takes the cake:

        BDSers have never hired a single Arab nor improved their well-being … But they hate the Jews

        lol. we couldn’t make this stuff up.

      • Mike_Konrad
        January 30, 2014, 8:26 pm

        I think Norman F is just putting things in perspective.

        Yarmouk is a bigger violation of Palestinian rights by Arabs

    • eljay
      January 28, 2014, 12:41 pm

      >> This is surreal. … The Palestinian Arabs in Yarmouk would love to work for a company like SodaStream.

      This is surreal. The Palestinians in Yarmouk would love to return to their homes and lands in a free Palestine. But Zio-supremacists like NormanF would rather see them go to a SodaStream plant to provide cheap labour for Zio-supremacist Jews.

    • Cliff
      January 28, 2014, 2:09 pm

      @the Jewish terrorist

      If you care about Palestinian refugees in Syria, then let them return to their homeland which you European invaders and converts to Judaism (with no connection to the fairytale ‘Judea’) stole from them in 48′ and again in 67′.

  3. Rusty Pipes
    January 28, 2014, 1:22 pm

    Johansson should fire her agent. With the controversy getting coverage in the NYT and the LA Times, this is turning into a bad career move. Rather than her image improving sodastream’s brand, sodastream’s realities are damaging her image.

  4. W.Jones
    January 29, 2014, 4:39 pm

    This reads like one of the labor unions’ declarations from 100 years ago in the US. The employer who pays pennies says he has to fire all the strikebreakers for the “good of the workers”. This is what the Sodastream position is- that it is creating peace and building relations by being in a settlement on Palestinian land. We are interacting when we are on your land and you are suffering as a result, and plus you don’t have jobs so you work for our settlement on your land, so therefore it is helpful to goodwill.

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