We live in a celebrity-driven culture, right? And Scarlett Johansson has done more to educate people about the Israel/Palestine issue than anything since the Gaza war of ’08-’09. She got John Kerry to talk about boycotts and the Financial Times to explain why the settlements are illegal and wrong.
Well it’s Monday morning, and the story isn’t going away. Her image is begin milked relentlessly by the rightwing Israel Project. First they did a tasteless lascivious ad with Johansson canoodling with two old men. Now they’re giving her a peace tattoo, above. So Johansson has gone from being Oxfam’s poster girl to the Israel Project’s! The Israel Project is a rightwing Israel lobby group: It is trying to break Obama’s deal with Iran, it mourns Ariel Sharon as “the last lion of Judaea”, its board is all Democratic neocons like Marty Peretz.
Now to liberal Zionists. Twice now (here and here) I’ve said that Americans for Peace Now have been silent on the Scarlett Johansson settlement-uproar. I was wrong (particularly in the second instance, when the group was on the record). Peace Now’s Debra DeLee wrote a piece called “Love Israel. Oppose BDS. Reject SodaStream” for the Forward last week, in which she said people should boycott SodaStream:
Under normal circumstances, I would buy SodaStream and recommend it to my friends. But the circumstances under which the product is made are not normal. And because Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is such an anomaly, as much as I may like Scarlett (and seltzer), I will not buy SodaStream, not until it moves its headquarters away from a West Bank settlement.
Apologies to Peace Now.
Meanwhile, at HuffPo, Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy (who alerted me to my error), says the flap has highlighted the idea of a principled support for the two-state solution.
Johansson’s statements on the controversy have tried to obscure a crucial issue: what relationship should people who support the two-state solution have to Israeli settlements in the West Bank?..
Oxfam’s view is that someone who supports the two-state solution should not be promoting economic ties with Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Johansson’s view, apparently, is that it’s ok to claim that you support a two-state solution and then turn around and promote economic ties with Israeli settlements in the West Bank, thereby bolstering and normalizing the occupation.
Oxfam’s view is normative among sincere advocates of a two-state solution. Johansson’s apparent view is marginal among sincere advocates of a two-state solution…
By claiming to support a two-state solution while helping to bolster the occupation, Scarlett Johansson is acting as a Susan Collins for the occupation, pretending to be moderate, while acting to bolster extremists.
Oxfam did the right thing in taking a principled stand. You can thank Oxfam for their principled stand at MoveOn here and on Thunderclap here. The Thunderclap is set to go off on Sunday evening during the #SuperBowl.