Home > News > Three cheers for Scarlett Johansson’s stand against Boycott
By Brendan O’Neill – Telegraph Blogs
Three cheers for Scarlett Johansson’s stand against the ugly, illiberal Boycott Israel movement
As if her otherworldly beauty and screen presence were not enough, here is another reason to love Scarlett Johansson: Oxfam, of which she was an ambassador, hinted that she should cut her ties with SodaStream on the basis that it maintains factories in Israeli settlements and she responded by cutting her ties with Oxfam!
What’s not to love about this story? A worthy charity shakes its big head in disapproval at a celeb who has dared to do things for a company that works in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, no doubt expecting the celeb to freak out, issue a tear-drenched apology and promise never again to rub shoulders, or anything else, with these evil Israelis. But instead the celeb basically tells the worthy charity to get stuffed and says she will carry on working with and promoting the Israeli company.
Ever since she was signed up as the face of SodaStream, Ms Johansson has had a tsunami of flak from campaigners who think that buying Israeli stuff, working with Israeli academics or attending Israeli theatre performances is the very worst thing a human being could ever do. You know the kind: they stand outside Marks & Spencer’s on Oxford Street warning all whom enter that this evil shop sells blood-stained products (ie, stuff made in Israel), and they screech and wail, these philistines for Palestine, when an Israeli violinist starts playing at the Proms. I mean, can you imagine it – a musician from Israel inside the Royal Albert Hall? *Shudder*.
And so it was that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for decent-minded Westerners to refuse to contaminate their body, souls or minds with any grub or books from Israel, called on Oxfam to “immediately sever ties” with Ms Johansson. Oxfam expressed its concern at Ms Johansson’s lack of guilt over advertising SodaStream, asking her to “[consider] the implications”, and said it was thinking about what this all means “for Ms Johansson’s role as Oxfam global ambassador”. And then, brilliantly, totally stealing Oxfam’s puffed-up thunder, Ms Johansson’s people issued a statement saying: “Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years.” Sassy Actress 1, Self-Important Moaners About Israel 0.
Brendan O’Neill is editor of the online magazine spiked and is a columnist for the Big Issue in London and The Australian in, er, Australia. His satire on environmentalism, Can I Recycle My Granny and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas, is published by Hodder & Stoughton. He doesn’t tweet.