The Guardian’s first few days of coverage of the debate over Scarlett Johansson’s role as global ambassador for SodaStream, and her subsequent decision to step down as Oxfam ambassador, was, by their standards, relatively fair. However, yesterday, true to form, they published a commentary at ‘Comment is Free’ supporting the boycott and criticizing Johansson’s involvement with the Israeli based company.
Here is the most relevant passage in a commentary by Vijay Prashad titled ‘Scarlett Johansson is right; the face of SodaStream doesn’t fit with Oxfam‘, Jan. 30:
Johansson’s new job posed a serious problem for Oxfam. The charity has over the years taken a strong position against Israel’s illegal settlement construction at the same time as it has worked to deliver much-needed goods and services to the encaged population in the occupied Palestinian territories. In a powerful briefing paper from 2012, Oxfam called on Israel to “immediately halt the construction of all illegal settlements” and end “policies and practices that are illegal under international law and harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians”.
Leaving his agitprop aside, Prashad’s suggestion that the SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumim would “harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians” is the opposite of the truth. Indeed, if BDS activists got their wish the plant would close, ending employment – which includes above par wages and generous benefits – for over 500 Palestinians (and hundreds of Israelis) currently employed there.
So, it appears as if BDS activists like Prashad are the ones who threaten to “harm the livelihood of Palestinian civilians”
So fanatical is the BDS cause that Israeli-Palestinian co-existence and laying the seeds of economic development for the future Palestinian state necessarily take a back seat to their malign obsession with Israel.
Of course, peace is likely the furthest thing from Prashad’s mind, as he is on the Advisory Board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, an organization which characterizes Zionism as a form of ethnic or racial supremacy, and opposes the existence of the Jewish state within any borders.
(Curiously, the Guardian failed to note Prashad’s affiliation with the pro-BDS group, an extremely misleading omission in the context of his explicit support for boycotting SodaStream.)
As Prashad’s commentary again indicates, anti-Zionists are not only hostile to Israeli communities across the green line, but fundamentally oppose the Jewish right to self-determination, the concept of two-states for two peoples and all efforts to promote peace and co-existence.
Remind us again why such ideological extremists are continually framed as ‘liberal’ activists by the Guardian and the mainstream media.