A network of Palestinians living near the SodaStream factory in the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in Occupied Palestine, as well as Israeli and international grassroots activists who work with them, have issued a press release today calling on Scarlett Johansson to step down as SodaStream spokesperson.
Bab al Shams Village Council (in coalition with The Jahalin Association) joins the growing chorus of human rights advocates, Palestinian civil society organizations such as the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and other conscientious citizens of the world, calling on actress Scarlett Johansson to terminate her endorsement deal with SodaStream, whose factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim is on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
Ma’ale Adumim, like all other Israeli settlements built on occupied land, is illegal and constitutes a war crime under international law. All companies operating in settlements directly support Israel’s illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian land by paying taxes to municipal settlement governments, employing local settlers, and providing the economic infrastructure for Israel’s settlement expansion. The settlements have always been labelled a problem for peace by successive U.S. administrations, the United Nations and peace negotiators. Recent European Union guidelines state that no settlements should benefit from European Union taxpayers’ money; President Obama has repeated that Ma’ale Adumim’s “E1 Development Plan” is a red line for his Administration.
While Johansson and company officials claim to be advancing the cause of peace and to support the two-state solution, they are in fact supporting a nearly half-century old Israeli military regime that brutally represses Palestinian rights, illegally exploits Palestinian resources, and denies millions of people the most fundamental of freedoms. Palestinian families, in particular Bedouins, are being forcibly displaced so settlements like Ma’ale Adumim can grow. Currently, some 3,000 Bedouin face expulsion from Palestinian lands, so that the massive colony of Ma’ale Adumim can expand further.
For Palestinians to enjoy genuine and lasting economic prosperity, they require freedom from Israeli domination, and an end to occupation and colonization of their land as supported by SodaStream. If Ms. Johansson truly wants to contribute to a more peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, she should begin by ending her endorsement of a company that profits from Israeli human rights abuses.
“Israel has been saying it’s serious about peace for over 20 years. Those words have proved empty when you see how settlements have massively expanded in that time. Or when you see how indigenous Palestinians have been displaced as a result of settlement expansionism,” said Bab al Shams village mayor, Jamil Barghouti. “How can you be talking peace when war crimes and colonialism are being committed under the guise of that talk? And how can someone like Scarlett Johansson be part of that deception? She should now withdraw for the sake of her own integrity.”
Bab al Shams Village Council (in coalition with The Jahalin Association) is a network of Palestinian popular committees, international and Israeli grassroots activists, working non-violently together to protect Palestinian rights to Jerusalem as a shared capital, with especial focus on preventing the eastern entry (the E1 area) to Jerusalem from being colonized by Ma’ale Adumim expansion.