Commentary Magazine


Contentions

A BDS Thought Bubble

What a relief that Scarlett Johansson has stepped down as Oxfam ambassador. When it comes to relieving poverty, there is one thing we know: the most important thing is ideological purity.

As the Zionist oppressors at COMMENTARY are doubtless aware, Johansson recently accepted a role as global ambassador for SodaStream. SodaStream contributes to the oppression of Palestinians by employing about 500 West Bank Palestinians at much higher wages than they could earn elsewhere. That is why we say, along with Oxfam, that SodaStream helps “further the ongoing poverty” of Palestinian communities. We regret that Oxfam did not also mention that having Israelis working alongside Arabs in the factory furthers Israeli apartheid.

You will undoubtedly deploy your colonialist “logic” to point out that higher wages do not further poverty and that having Israelis working alongside Arabs does not foster apartheid. It is true that Reuters, that mouthpiece of Zionist colonialist expansion, reports that “in the plant, assembly lines buzz to the mixed voices in Hebrew and Arabic of its employees – a rare example of people from the two sides working and talking together.” But Reuters is obviously drinking the SodaStream Kool Aid, which, curse them, they make in three delicious varieties.

But the SodaStream plant is located in Maale Adumim, a piece of the occupied territories east of Jerusalem, which already contains tens of thousands of radical Israeli suburban commuters. Almost no one thinks that Maale Adumim will become part of a future Palestinian state, but a movement can dare to dream, can it not? That is why some Oxfam insiders worried that keeping Johansson on would threaten its relationships with Palestinian partners. These Palestinian partners sensibly stand by this principle: no one who supports a company that employs Palestinians in a territory certain to be ceded to Israel as part of a peace agreement will be permitted to help Palestinians. We hold that truth to be self-evident.

The fact is, it’s not just the settlements. We in the BDS movement oppose all joint Israeli-Palestinian projects, wherever they take place. As the guidelines for our academic and cultural boycott plainly state, we must “refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions.” Johansson therefore crossed a line when she expressed support for “economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.” Even COMMENTARY readers, if they are willing to relax their ideological pose for a moment, will grasp why those words are so hateful. We don’t care how effective Scarlett Johannson is as an anti-poverty advocate, or how good she was in Iron Man 2, a movie we permitted ourselves to enjoy before we realized that it glorified an industrial capitalist.

Although we are deeply disappointed that Johannson beat Oxfam to the punch by resigning, we still say good riddance. And don’t think that Oxfam needs you either, Ms. Johansson. They’ve still got Annie Lennox and Desmond Tutu.