Today, Scarlett Johansson, the acclaimed movie actress that was declared the sexiest woman alive by Esquire magazine, resigned from Oxfam where, for the past 8 years, she had served as a “good will ambassador”. She left Oxfam because she was getting tremendous heat for agreeing to do commercials for an Israeli company – SodaStream – that has a system for making home pop. It turns out that SodaStream has a factory in Ma’aleh Adumim, a so-called “illegal” Israeli settlement. As a result, the growing BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has made Scarlett Johansson public enemy number one and she was pressured to stop representing the Israeli company. Instead, my new hero stood by Israel and dumped Oxfam.
This may seem like a trivial issue, but it really isn’t. It goes to the heart of the new anti-Semitism that is spreading like a sci-fi cancer across the planet. As all anti-Semitism throughout history, the new anti-Semitism masquerades as something lofty. The BDS movement says that it stands for “freedom, justice and equality”. But it stands for none of these. It stands for the demonization, marginalization and destruction of the only state the Jews have ever had. It wants to strangle the Jewish state by turning Israel into the Jewish ghetto of the global village. It’s strategic goal – in the service of terrorist organizations such as Hammas and Hezbollah – is to turn Israel into a pariah state; shunned by other states, by businesses and by artists.
Many artists, such as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, have gone along with the boycott. It’s a cheap way to feel hip. Others have come to Israel but have been apologetic about it. One of my favorite artists, fellow Montrealer Leonard Cohen, came to Israel but donated all his concert revenue to Palestinian and Israeli groups working for peace. I was looking forward to going to his concert, but when he wanted to turn the price of my ticket into an excuse for coming here, I decided not to go. I wish he came here to make money. That would be normal. Then, if he wanted to donate to pro-peace NGOs, he could do so on his own time. I’m for peace, but you don’t need a politically correct excuse to rationalize preforming in Israel. In any event, the bad guys have now come face to face with someone tougher than Roger Waters or Leonard Cohen – Scarlett Johansson. It turns out she’s as gutsy as she is pretty.
The fact is that Ma’aleh Adumim sits on the ancient border between the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. It is barely 3 miles outside of the city limits of Jerusalem, a city that was the capital of Israel before most countries on the planet were founded.
What absolute chutzpah it is for people sitting in cities like Washington D.C (founded 223 years ago), Brussels (started as a fort a 1,000 years ago) or even London (founded some 2,000 years ago) to call “illegal” the presence of Jews in the greater Jerusalem area. Jerusalem was made the capital of a Jewish state by King David in the 10th century BCE i.e., 3,000 years ago. Put differently, Jews have been living in the Jerusalem area some 2,800 years before Washington was established. And yet, it seems that even after all this time the legitimacy of Jews living in the land of Israel is still being debated.
With respect to the SodaStream factory in Maa’leh Adumim, it employs 500 Palestinians that get full benefits as part of Israel’s work force. But the bad guys aren’t happy with this. They want the Palestinians unemployed so that they can rationalize terror-attacks when they happen. Then, when a Palestinian youth straps a bomb to his body and blows himself in a pizzeria, taking innocent children with him, the BDS movement can talk about how “frustrated” that youth was under “occupation”. It irks the BDS movement that if a Palestinian works at SodaStream, maybe he’ll never have reason to blow himself up.
By the way, you don’t see the BDS movement upset about American factories in India, for example. BDS’ers are happy wearing GAP clothes, totally unconcerned about the use of child labor in unsafe third-world factories. They don’t care about children. They don’t even care about Arabs. They’re not active on behalf of, say, Syrian refugees in Jordan. There are a million of them. They don’t even care about Palestinians and any hardships they may face in places like the Gulf States or Jordan which, incidentally, is “occupied Palestine”, carved out of 80% of British Mandate Palestine in 1947. The BDS anti-Semites only care about Jews. Like all anti-Semites, they’re obsessed with us. Since Jews are involved with SodaStream, they care about SodaStream. And since SodaStream is an Israeli company, they obsess about it too.
Scarlett Johansson’s mother is an Ashkenazi Jew from the Bronx. Her family hails from Minsk. They came to America to avoid the anti-Semitism of Tsarist Russia. On Friday, October 3rd, 1919, as the Sabbath was about to begin, Belarusian soldiers marched through the ghetto of Minsk shouting “Down with the Jews!” and inciting the mob against Jewish homes and shops that had been carefully marked ahead of time. 31 Jews, 5 of them children, were murdered. This was just a dress rehearsal for the Holocaust where 6 million Jews, one million of them children, would be murdered.
In the topsy turvy world of today, the survivors of the Holocaust going to their ancient homeland, rebuilding it, defending it and employing Palestinians in a soda pop factory is unacceptable. It smacks too much of normal life for a Jewish state. In their marrow, the BDS bad guys feel that they must disrupt that “normality”. So they tried to get to Scarlett. But Scarlett knows where she comes from. She knows why her ancestors left Minsk, and given a choice between representing an Israeli firm and looking good to the BDS anti-Semites, she’s gone soda pop – Jewish soda pop – even better, Israeli soda pop.