Thank you, Scarlett Johansson

Thank you, Scarlett Johansson

How much do I love Scarlett Johansson speaking up for Israel?

I’m so excited I’m going to down a big glass of bubbly – bubbly water, that is, created in my own SodaStream, made in Israel.

For those oblivious to all news, whether from CNN, ESPN, or TMZ, Scarlett Johansson stood up to the bullies in the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanction) movement who pressured her to drop her endorsement of SodaStream as part of their ongoing effort to harm Israel’s economy. SodaStream is an Israeli-owned manufacturer of home soda-making appliances, and maintains a factory in Ma’ale Adumim, a suburb of 50,000 as close to Jerusalem as Englewood is to New York. BDS advocates label the city an “illegal settlement” despite the fact that Jews have lived there since biblical times and there is no international law prohibiting their ongoing presence.

Not only did Johansson maintain her relationship with SodaStream, but she also ended her eight-year relationship with Oxfam, an anti-hunger organization that also happens to support the anti-Israel BDS movement.

This story is so gratifying because Johansson actually examined the issue and concluded that SodaStream, not BDS advocates, had the moral high ground. Boldly standing up to those who hide their anti-Israel views behind a mask of alleged human rights advocacy, she said that she has “fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.” She further praised SodaStream for its commitment to “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day.”

SodaStream employs over 500 Arab workers from across the Green Line (and another 450 Arab Israelis and 350 Jewish Israelis), treating its workers equally regardless of their origin. It offers pay and benefits that on average are double to triple the normal compensation in the area, affords equal prospects for advancement, and provides an on-site mosque. One Gawker reporter accurately wrote that it all “sounds too kumbaya to be true,” before a Palestinian worker at the plant volunteered to a reporter: “Hell yeah, I’m happy. We’re like family. We have fun. We are Jews and Muslims here. We are here peacefully. We have no problems.”

And yet in the face of Syrian gassing of children, not to mention the ongoing terrorism actively encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, this example of peaceful cooperation is what the hypocrites in the BDS campaign choose to protest, because they are categorically against Israeli presence in the area. For decades now, the existence of so-called Israeli “settlements” (in fact, many described as such are ancient or long-established Jewish communities) has been trumpeted as the obstacle to peace. Critics routinely ignore the realities, including the fact that the Jewish areas stand on less than 2 percent of the land in Judea/Samaria; that many of the “new settlements” so often referred to are in fact just extensions to existing communities or are in Jerusalem, which is part of Israel proper, or, critically, that the so-called “illegality” of these communities is a lie. (The law most often cited as the basis for this spurious claim is Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which was drafted to outlaw the horrors of Nazi mass deportations, and in fact prohibits “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons…” It has nothing to do with voluntary choice to live in any particular area, disputed or otherwise.)

In truth, discussion of Jewish presence in Judea/Samaria is at best a distraction from the real issues, such as the ongoing celebration of terrorism and violence by the Palestinian leadership and their complete lack of accountability or authority to uphold any agreements, past or future. Twice Israel has offered to trade land for peace (95 percent and 98 percent of disputed territory in 2000 and 2008), seeking to retain only a narrow perimeter for security reasons; Israel’s desire to reach a final agreement is clear. Yet more than 20 years after Oslo neither the Palestinian Authority nor any of its key leaders will even acknowledge Israel’s fundamental right to exist as a Jewish homeland. Now there’s an obstacle to peace!

Sadly, many ill-informed but well-meaning people fall prey to the lies dispersed by anti-Israel propagandists, who have had devastating success in selling BDS as a “human rights” issue when it is in fact an attempt to undermine Israel’s right to exist in any borders whatsoever. Which is why it took such courage, and creates such hope, for someone like Johansson to refuse to bend to BDS pressure.

It’s inspiring. Encouraging. And like a cold glass of bubbly, truly refreshing.