The good news is that the Scarlett Johansson Oxfam meltdown has educated Americans, somewhat, about Israel’s illegal settlement project. A few items…
First, Keith Olbermann featured the story on ESPN II segment, “World’s Worst Persons in the sports world.” His focus was the contradiction between Johansson’s role as Oxfam’s global ambassador and her cluelessness re Palestine. SodaStream is manufactured in a “controversial Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank territory,” Olbermann says, hastening to add, “Without getting into that debate…” As if it’s fine if you’re for those settlements.
The liberal Zionist Brooklyn rabbi Andy Bachman, who aligns with J Street, has been promoting Scarlett Johansson and SodaStream on his twitter feed. When a pro-Palestinian group said that Johansson was standing up for occupation, Bachman begged to differ, and said that the huge settlement that SodaStream produces in will be part of Israel in the coming two-state solution:
Her statement was far more complex. And wouldn’t Maale Adumim be in any peace deal land-swap?
— andybachman (@andybachman) January 26, 2014
Bachman blames both sides for the absence of Palestinian rights:
My view is that it’s an equal opportunity mess. Terror hardened Israelis, as settlement policy did Palestinians.
— andybachman (@andybachman) January 27, 2014
But the terror is long over; and the settlements move on apace. And the Israelis get to vote for the government that effects the policies.
Bachman brags on the jobs at SodaStream, a refrain that can be heard too in Emily Harris’s piece on the controversy at National Public Radio. The NPR hosts sold her piece as being about the employment opportunities, though Harris undercut that claim, somewhat. Notice her ending– that the SodaStream flap is raising consciousness.
HARRIS: It seems everyone in this town knows someone who works at SodaStream. While it’s seen as a good job, college senior Fadi Abu Nemeh says after Israel built its separation barrier in and around the West Bank, people here have few real choices.
FADI ABU NEMEH: A lot of people had their jobs in Jerusalem, like in Arab companies or at like Arab businesses in East Jerusalem. And after the wall, they lost their jobs, so they had to work in places like SodaStream.
HARRIS: …Hubert Murray, the grandson of an Oxfam founder, says Oxfam should have let Johansson go before she resigned.
HUBERT MURRAY: This is a very subtle and complex ethical issue. That’s why it is so important for organizations like Oxfam to have paid very clear adherence to principle, and not shilly-shally and prevaricate.
HARRIS: If SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad helps market shares significantly, U.S. consumers may be drawn more in to the political fray over made in settlement products.
The NYT also has a good news piece describing the “fuss” as indicative of the growing boycott movement that has frightened Israeli leaders.
Fearing just that sort of isolation, last weekend Jane Eisner of the Forward came out for SodaStream at Huffpo, joining forces with Mike Huckabee. Now Eisner’s published an editorial at the Forward that is dispiriting, when you consider, this is a progressive voice in the Jewish community?
The headline is “Bursting Bubbles of SodaStream Haters.” So the critics of the occupation are the problem.
Examining the facts, as opposed to the propaganda, leads us to a more basic conclusion: The only legitimate criticism of SodaStream is that one of its 13 locations is where it is, in the occupied territory where Palestinians do not share the same rights as Israelis.
Precisely: that’s the criticism. It has nothing to do with propaganda. Is that a flimsy issue? I’ve been there, and it’s apartheid on steroids. But The Forward explains that occupation is not-such-a-bad-thing (unlike countless other issues where liberal Jews have supported boycott):
If you believe that buying any product from the territories reinforces the occupation, and that by doing so violates a consumer moral code, then Coke and Pepsi might indeed be better for your conscience.
For us, it’s not that simple. A blanket boycott of Israeli goods produced in the Palestinian territories — formulated as a more targeted version of the boycott, divestment and sanction movement known as BDS — is shortsighted, unfair, largely unenforceable, and ultimately self-defeating. Some Palestinian leaders have called for sympathizers to take up this cause. Some Palestinian workers, clearly, don’t agree.
Ilene Cohen has this response to SodaStream ceo Daniel Birnbaum’s jobs claims:
With the hubris that comes with unbridled paternalism, Massa Danny boasts about how well he treats his house slaves (he’s doing it for them) and Scarlett thinks it’s all just swell (“a bridge of peace” and all).
But colonial occupation is wrong, just as slavery is wrong. Unfortunately, the majority of twenty-first-century Jews in “the only democracy in the Middle East” don’t get it.
Yes, if it’s so great that they’re working for you, why not give these people the vote over the government that has sovereignty? Can a liberal Jewish newspaper say that? Apparently not.
Flash from the past, 1984:
A survey among black South African factory workers that was published today shows overwhelming resistance to the notion that United States companies should withdraw investment in this racially divided nation to force change.
Of 551 workers interviewed in the main industrial centers, 75 percent said they disagreed with campaigns in the United States and elsewhere for divestment in South Africa. Of that number, according to the survey, 54 percent said divestment would reduce the number of jobs, and 41 percent said divestment would harm blacks.
The battle anticipates the coming battle over whether the John Kerry framework could produce a viable Palestinian state on chunks of land. A British Labour minister who long supported the two-state solution has called for consideration of a one-state solution. This kind of discussion is sure to come to the U.S. soon…
But I am increasingly unsure about whether [2SS is] still achievable – mainly because, as time has marched on, and successive negotiating initiatives have come and gone, the land earmarked for a viable Palestinian state has been remorselessly occupied by Israeli settlers.
And I’m not alone. John Kerry and William Hague have both talked of “the window for a two-state solution” closing…. The fundamental problem is this: sooner rather than later the land available to constitute a future Palestinian state will have all but disappeared.