Yes, Scarlett, SodaStream Is Problematic

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum appeared on Israel’s Channel One this past Friday night to explain why his star, Scarlett Johansson, left Oxfam to keep her job as goodwill ambassador for his brand. (A major SodaStream plant — if you have been vacationing on Mars for the past few days — is located in an industrial park just outside of Maale Adumim, an Israeli settlement — actually a suburb of nearly 40,000 — plunk between Ramallah and Bethlehem; yesterday, Johansson’s pouty, strippy ad for the company woke up some younger Super Bowl fans.)

“She was sick of the bullying,” Birnbaum, affable and decent, told the delighted television panel of pundits. She is for two states and against the settlements, but she sees us creating a business based on “Israeli and Palestinian cooperation.” One pundit reinforced his case with characteristic Israeli pundit righteousness: “The Palestine Authority is not creating jobs this good!”—so what’s the problem?

Johansson herself has been on message. “I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” she (or her PR firm) wrote in a press release. “SodaStream is a company…supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

Ms. Johansson has obviously concluded that Israelis and Palestinians will split the land someday and that, meanwhile, hey, let’s promote a company that gives Arabs jobs. But the position she endorses, I mean, “endorses,” distorts the meaning of cooperation more or less completely.

Read the whole post at Talking Points Memo