Super Bowl Ad Puts Scarlett Johansson On Forefront Of Israeli Product Boycott Controversy [UPDATED]

220px-Scarlett_Johansson_by_Gage_Skidmore220px-SodastreamWe recently had a vigorous debate on this blog over the academic boycott of Israel that appears to be gaining steam despite threats from politicians about retaliation. Now the boycott movement will be placed front and center in the Superbowl with a controversy over a commercial by actress Scarlett Johansson who is being paid to be the new face for SodaStream International Ltd., an Israeli company that operates a factory in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. Johansson has been denounced for her work on behalf of the Israeli company and now Oxfam International is considering dropping her as an ambassador for its global work against hunger and poverty. Advocates insist that the town is actually fairly secular and supplies jobs for Jews and non-Jews. Both sides will have a chance to be heard given our past experience with controversial Superbowl ads. This is the ultimate prime time exposure for the company but the debate is not likely to be over the savings of carbonating your own drinks. Update: Fox has banned the commercial but not over the international law objections but because the commercial takes digs at Pepsi and Coke (two bigger advertisers). It is not clear if the commercial will be reworked to drop the references and resubmitted. Ironically, the company may have triggered a new boycott debate and not even make it to Superbowl audience.

SodaStream makes machines for creating carbonated beverages at home. In the Superbowl ad, Johansson pitches for the company as a must buy for all families.

Ironically, as groups like PETA have shown, controversy over Superbowl commercials is generally viewed as a good thing. You get 100 times the coverage as people show your commercial over and over. However, this might not be a case of “any publicity is good publicity.” Most people are probably unaware that the company is located in the West Bank. It also adds more publicity to the Boycott Israel movement.

Critics insist that Johansson is committing the same act as shilling for companies that once worked under the apartheid system in the old South Africa. Oxfam appears to consider the objection serious enough to review its continued association with Johansson. It issued a statement that “Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”

Ma’ale Adumim is a major point of tension in the area. It contains roughly 40,000 Israelis and was the shown of forced removal of Palestinians. In the winter of 1975, a Gush Emunim group of 23 families and six singles erected a prefabricated concrete structure and two wooden huts on the land and continued to return despite being removed by the government. In 1977, Menachem Begin’s government declared Ma’ale Adumim official status as a permanent settlement.

Johansson insists that she simply accepted a promotional deal and “remain[s] a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.” This is not going to be enough for critics and the controversy could well pull her and the company into an unexpected national spotlight over the boycott movement.

Source: LA Times

56 thoughts on “Super Bowl Ad Puts Scarlett Johansson On Forefront Of Israeli Product Boycott Controversy [UPDATED]”

  1. I appreciate this massive coverage, since a new awareness of Scarlett Johansson will now allow me to avoid any movies or other work she may be involved in, as well as boycott any products that she may sponsor. SodaStream was already on that list as a product of the illegal settlements in occupied Palestine, but this controversy is helping me to recruit new participants to BDS.

    Thank you, Scarlett!

  2. Scarlett Johansson Stepping Down As Oxfam Ambassador

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with a humanitarian group after being criticized over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.

    A statement released by Johansson’s spokesman Wednesday said the 29-year-old actress has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.

    “Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the statement said. “She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam.”

  3. First of all the anti-boycott movement is profoundly specious- the US has instigated economic and cultural boycotts against countries as different as Iran, Iraq, Cuba nad North Korea- often forcing other countries to take part in them(arguably infringing on their sovereign rights to trade with whom they saw fit)-but any talk of a boycott against Israel is “dirty pool” presumably!

  4. There are extremist in every religion, and the Jews have them too, unforntunalty they are running Israel right now.Israelis have a cries in their hands. This is the time to establish a viable peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Most of the settlers are from the US who grew up in liberal and free society we call the United States of Amerrica, and now they are expelling people and stealing other people’s land. I am sure the only reason their parents arrived as refugees to the United States is because the injustices they endured in their homeland. Haven’t they learned …….!!

  5. Palestinians are getting their land stolen out from under them every single day, with evictions and home demolitions and walls going up. I hope no one is going to argue that this is justified because some Mufti 70 years ago was an anti-Semite? Also, you can believe in the Bible if you want, but if someone else wanted to kick you out of your house with no compensation because their holy book said it rightly belonged to them, how would you feel about it?

  6. Foreign US charity (monetarily/militarily) to the apartheid state of Israel need be ceased until such a day Israel upholds it’s obligations under international law.

  7. Ralph:

    Why cant you just post your responses without the vitriol? No need to insult the Prof., all you have to do is say you disagree and why, leave the vinegar for french fries or BBQ sauce.

  8. randyjet:

    The only thing I know about the Balkans is that the people have been killing each other for hundreds of years.

  9. Jonathan Turley says: “However, you continue to degrade this blog with name calling in violation of our civility policy.”

    Of course, you are perfectly fine with randyjet’s name calling–because you agree with his political positions. I know all about double and triple standards. They go hand-in-hand with those who hold your political positions.

  10. A bit about the issue:

    SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomim, an Israeli settlement industrial park located in the West Bank.

    The land where the SodaStream factory is located was illegally confiscated by the Israeli military occupation authorities from Palestinian owners. Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace and violate international law.

    Since 1968 the US government has called on Israel to stop building and expanding settlements in the West Bank.

    Companies should not profit from products that are made on stolen property or that perpetuate the Israeli occupation of the West Bank

    So, what to do?

    (SodaStream Boycott, Interfaith Boycott Coalition).

  11. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law, as even the US govt admits. For decades Israel has been moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, with the goal of preventing a Palestinian state. Because the Palestinian side is so weak, and the Israelis are so strong, the Palestinians have launched a boycott of Israel.

    The boycott has long history, used by Gandhi in his campaign against British control of India. Later, Martin Luther King used a boycott of bus service in Montgomery Alabama to combat Jim Crow in the south. King learned from Gandhi. Still later, the blacks in South Africa launched a boycott as part of a campaign against apartheid. The South African campaign helped to send South African apartheid to its grave.

    The Israeli government, and its supporters and defenders in the US, are very worried about the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. The Israelis expelled 2/3 of the Palestinians in 1948, and Israel subjects the Palestinians to systematic racial discrimination. This is the larger picture behind Scarlett Johansson and her endorsement of Soda Stream.

    The anti-boycott arguments voiced now by the Israelis and their supporters
    were previously used by the South Africans. “The boycott will cost jobs, and only hurt the people we want to support, etc.” The South Africans had no success with this argument, and neither will the Israelis.

    By Israels, I mean most Israeli Jews, who for the most part support their racist system. There has always been a small number of Israeli Jews who opposed racism, and I hope their numbers will increase in the future. And, of course, don’t forget that 20% of Israeli citizens are ethnic Palestinians, so at least 20% of Israeli citizens oppose Israel’s apartheid policy.

    1. John F while I agree with some of your positions on Israeli racism against the Palestinians, I have to differ with a lot of the campaign against Israel since it does not differentiate between the PA and Hamas. I support the efforts to stop aiding the illegal settlements in the West Bank and the horrible way they treat their Israeli citizens who are not Jewish. I have personal second hand information on that since a pilot I worked with was an Israeli citizen who is Muslim. Their treatment of him and others like him is as bad as anything practiced in the south against black Americans.

      As for Gaza and Hamas, we can thank W Bush for this situation since he was the one who pushed for early elections which Al Fatah was not ready for. There were multiple candidates for positions from Fatah, so the Hamas supporters won a plurality, NOT a majority in that vote. Then Hamas staged a coup and took over all of the functions in Gaza which were reserved to the PA as a whole. There is no chance for a free election in Gaza with Hamas in control. They are in short, a fascist political retrograde force which basically declared and acted on warfare against Israel. Since my family has a long proud tradition of killing fascists, I don’t much care who kills Hamas personnel. If it is Israel, or the PA, I say do more killing of them. They want and deserve it richly.

  12. Ralph Adamo,

    I have deleted a comment by you calling another commentator a Nazi and other names. I have not deleted your attacks on me. However, you continue to degrade this blog with name calling in violation of our civility policy. I do not want to ban anyone on this blog, particularly critics. We value different views and voices on this blog. However, I ask that you conform to our civility rule or go on to other blogs. There are plenty of sites that relish this type of name calling. However, we have tried to preserve this site as a place for adult and mature and civil discussion. I would sincerely appreciate your cooperation with us in the tenor of your comments.

    Jonathan Turley

  13. Ralph:

    I might suggest you consider toning down this a bit. Randy is certainly not a terrorist and saying things such as having his number can be construed as being threatening.

    You comments here are worthwhile but I might suggest you would get your points accross to us better if you approached this with more diplomacy.

  14. Ralph, you are either stupid or playing at being that for laughs. I hope you have learned to dial because you will find you have dialed a wrong number.

  15. Bryon, I wonder if you think that killing 34 US sailors on the USS Liberty was justified too? I was over there as that happened too and I saw a lot of how the US supported Israel in that war, and repaid us with a lot of dead sailors.

  16. @ Smilodon: Really? Where in the Bible are you reading that Israel has yet to be founded? Also, where are you reading that Abraham was a pedophile? Maybe you are confusing Abraham and Muhammad. Muhammad WAS a pedophile. He married Aisha when she was six or seven and the marriage was consummated when she was nine.

  17. mattcarmody, I should qualify my comment. As I stated, my info is probably 20 years old. But, I doubt much has changed.

  18. mattcarmody, I have some bad news for you. Ocean Spray pretty much owns the cranberry market in the US. I investigated a cranberry picker back in the 90’s and learned a lot about the biz. Almost all the cranberries in the US come from Wi. and Ma. So, you may buy cranberry products w/ another label but it came from Ocean Spray almost certainly.

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