Scarlett Johansson is getting some backup for her controversial decision to represent SodaStream, a product made in a Jewish colony in the occupied Palestinian territories. And not just from rightwinger Mike Huckabee. NY City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a liberal Democrat, came to her side last night:
Proud of environmentalist/humanitarian Scarlett Johansson for standing strong against those seeking to undermine a two-state solution.
— Scott M. Stringer (@scottmstringer) January 27, 2014
Stringer was quickly echoed by the soul of J Street, the liberal Zionist lobby group, Rabbi Andy Bachman of Beth Elohim in Brooklyn:
Bachman also tweeted about the great wages Palestinians are getting working in illegal Jewish settlements.
We heard the same line this weekend from Jane Eisner, the editor of the liberal newspaper the Forward. Interviewed on Huffpo, Eisner refused to criticize Johansson, saying that the Palestinians who work for SodaStream get great wages, and this may be the way to end the conflict, by giving them money (but not the vote over the government that determines their circumstances).
Liberal Zionists just don’t want to criticize Johansson. Americans for Peace Now, which supports a boycott of settlement goods, has been silent on Johansson’s SodaStream connection.
And Peter Beinart, who famously called for a boycott of settlement goods (“Zionist BDS”), has had almost nothing to say about Johansson. He did say this:
Wishing? Kind of weak.
There’s a reason that the liberal Zionists are silent. They anticipate that within a couple of months Secretary of State John Kerry will announce a “framework” for negotiations toward a final-status agreement. And that framework “deal” is sure to suggest borders for a Palestinian entity that leave major settlement blocs– like Ma’ale Adumim, where SodaStream has its factory– inside the New Israel.
Right now J Street is rolling out a campaign of “town halls” for the two-state solution this winter and spring. Center-right Israelis will be speaking at these town halls. The main topics will be “borders,” “security,” “refugees” and “Jerusalem.”
“Borders” means: the illegal settlements go to Israel. “Borders” means that anyone who criticizes Scarlett Johansson is undermining the two-state solution, as Scott Stringer said. I remember when J Street started, it said it was going to oppose the settlements and back Obama. But it scuttled that language in a hurry, when Obama got attacked for even mentioning the ’67 borders, and the American Jewish leadership made clear that it was backing the Israeli government. Liberal Jewish leaders refused to buck the trend.
So that’s why Eisner, Stringer, Bachman and other liberal Zionists are on Scarlett Johansson’s side. They see this as a test of the all-new two state solution.
What is Ma’ale Adumim? Michael Ratner of Center for Constitutional Rights visited the settlement a few years ago and saw the death of the two state solution:
“You’re seeing an area that’s being ethnically cleansed… You’re seeing the architecture of apartheid….I never had a sense of this until I saw it.. an open and notorious taking of land, a pass system, an apartheid system…”
“Once you see this, it [the two state solution] is completely ridiculous. It’s three Bantustans in the West Bank, with Israel controlling everything.”
Larry Derfner explains in Foreign Policy:
Besides, who says this settlement, the third most populous in the West Bank, isn’t already a stake in the heart of a prospective Palestinian state, even without E-1? “Ma’aleh Adumim was established to break Palestinian contiguity,” Benny Kashriel, the town’s mayor since 1992, told theJerusalem Report in 2004. “It is Jerusalem’s connection to the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley [on the other side of the West Bank from Jerusalem]; if we weren’t here, Palestinians could connect their villages and close off the roads.”
Update: Phan Nguyen fills me in: “FYI, Stringer has a special relationship with Johansson. She had stumped for him several times during his recent campaign, and her brother used to work for him. So aside from the usual reasons why NYC politicians would take such a stance, Stringer had a personal quid pro quo reason.”
Thanks to Alex Kane.