Some may have thought actress Scarlett Johansson would do her best to move on from the controversy in which her role as spokesperson for SodaStream mired her a few months ago. Johansson’s commercial for the Israeli company made a splash during the Super Bowl but it also led to her being forced to step down as an ambassador for the London-based Oxfam charity because the group condemns SodaStream for have a factory in the West Bank. Johansson didn’t just refuse to disassociate herself from the company. In an interview with the Guardian, she refused to accept the premise that settlements were illegal and defended the factory as a model of coexistence. That has brought down on her the contempt of anti-Israel ideologues and left open the question as to whether the career of the woman who was twice named the “sexiest woman in the world” by Esquire would suffer in an industry dominated by the left and more dependent than ever on revenue from international markets.
But Johansson is clearly undaunted. Reportedly in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine to be published in May, the actress doesn’t shy away from getting to the heart of this matter. As YNet reports:
American Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson believes anti-Semitism is to blame for much of the fire she drew earlier this year over her endorsement of Israeli company SodaStream, which operates a factory in the West Bank.
“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson told Vanity Fair, in an interview for the cover of their May edition.
A member of the Hollywood elite has never spoken truer words. While this will undoubtedly cause even more criticism of the actress, by raising the question of anti-Semitism, Johansson has cut straight to the heart of the problem with the movement that seeks to boycott Israel.
Those like Oxfam, a group that has vocally supported and funded the BDS—boycott, divest, sanction—movement, often claim that their goal is to help the Palestinians or to register a protest about the Israeli presence in the West Bank. But the battle over SodaStream actually helps strip away the thin veneer of humanitarianism from this anti-Israel cause and Johansson deserves credit for not shying away from speaking the truth about this fact.
Were BDS advocates truly interested in helping Palestinians, they would applaud efforts like that of SodaStream to invest in the area and to provide good jobs and benefits to local Arabs in an environment where they are treated and paid equally with Jews. But they don’t care about the people who would be put out of work if SodaStream were forced to relocate their factory.
BDS is rooted in more than indifference to the actual plight of Palestinians or the dilemma Israel faces in a conflict where its opponents still seek its destruction. The effort to boycott Israel is an overt act of bias. The BDS movement seeks to treat the one Jewish state in the world differently than any other country in the world and subject it to punishment to which no other state is subjected. The goal of BDS isn’t to push Israel to withdraw from the West Bank or to pressure it to make peace (something that would be unnecessary in any case since the Israelis have three times offered the Palestinians independence and statehood in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem only to be turned down each time). Rather, its purpose is wage economic war on the Jewish state and to aid those who seek to destroy or replace it. The driving force behind efforts to destroy Israel is the same one that has singled out Jews for special treatment and double standards in the past: anti-Semitism.
But speaking this obvious truth requires a degree of candor and courage that even many of those who are advocates for Israel in this country often lack. Many, especially those who label themselves “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” prefer to soft-soap the conflict with Jew haters and to pretend that this is a territorial dispute rather than an existential one. But Johansson, who has got an up close and personal lesson in what drives the BDS crowd, has risen above platitudes. Though we cannot know whether this will hurt her marketability abroad—where a rising tide of the anti-Semitism she rightly decries is being felt throughout Europe and Asia—the actress has more than earned the gratitude not only of friends of Israel but of decent people everywhere. It’s a matter of opinion as to whether she truly is the sexiest woman on the planet, but there’s no doubt anymore that she’s among the most honest.