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January 31, 2014 3:10 pm

Jewish Groups Praise Scarlett Johansson Over Oxfam Decision; SWC Says People Should Donate to Other Charities

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson with a carbonated bubbling machine from Israel's SodaStream. Photo: SodaStream.

Jewish humanitarian groups on Friday praised actress Scarlett Johansson’s decision to end her eight-year role as Global Ambassador for Oxfam because of differences over boycotts of Israel, with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Abraham Cooper going so far as to advise people to choose other charities to help the world’s poor.

“Until the anti-Israel campaign is dropped by Oxfam, people should seek out other NGOs dedicated to helping the world’s poor,” Rabbi Cooper said, in an email to The Algemeiner.

Late-Wednesday, the Jewish actress, through a spokesman, issued a statement saying that she had “respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam” because “she and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

The conflict emerged after Johansson was named as the celebrity spokeswoman for Israel’s SodaStream, which manufactures its home carbonation system in a factory in Ma’ale Adumim, across the Green Line, in an area that Palestinian Arabs claim for a state.

The company has come under criticism from the BDS movement for operating there, but its supporters, including Johansson, say the company’s equal opportunity employment of both Arabs and Jews aids the cause of peace.

After a public back-and-forth in the press Johansson made the decision to cut ties with the charity in favor of her new role for the Israeli company.

“SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment, but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights,” Johansson said in her statement“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

The SWC’s Rabbi Cooper, said, “The Wiesenthal Center commended Ms. Johansson for defying the BDS bullies. Oxfam International, based in the UK has long misused its humanitarian mandate to pillory Israel in the international arena. I have asked a senior official of Oxfam America if they are in agreement with a policy that puts hatred of Israel at the top of its agenda, making it impossible for a wonderful actress and humanitarian to continue her volunteer efforts to raise awareness and money to feed the world’s poor.”

The Anti-Defamation League, in another statement to The Algemeiner, said, “Scarlett Johansson should be widely praised for her principled, public stand against the BDS movement.  Johansson roundly rejected efforts to demonize the Israeli company SodaStream, affirming that her relationship with SodaStream reflects her commitment to ‘economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.'”

“She unabashedly stood strong in the face of frenzied criticism,” the ADL said. “At a time when many celebrities shirk from any hint of controversy, we applaud Ms. Johansson for stepping up as a voice of reason, in support of peace and reconciliation.”

On Friday, B’nai B’rith International said its president, Allan J. Jacobs, and executive vice president, Daniel S. Mariaschin sent Johansson a personal letter to commend her actions.

“On behalf of B’nai B’rith International, we applaud your principled and broadminded defense of economic and social cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. Anti-Israel activists and supporters of the discriminatory boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement have long engaged in a vicious campaign, rooted in anti-Semitism and aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing the Jewish state. Those who have chosen to align with BDS ultimately impede the peace process by opposing constructive dialogue between Israel and Palestinians,” they wrote.

“Your recognition of the positive impact of economic cooperation like that offered by the Ma’aleh Adumim SodaStream factory in the West Bank is an important rebuke to the BDS movement and a testament to the value of economic empowerment. B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with you and others who favor cooperation between Israel and Palestinians as a means to further the cause of peace. We encourage other public figures to follow your lead.”

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  • I have a dream
    Israeli initiative for Israeli and Palestinians artist
    To share a mutual art exhibition

    Meanings of Peace

    2014 theme Art as a bridge for peace
    Sorts of Art:
    Paintings, photography sculpturing new electronic media, mashed

    papers, recycling…
    Artists (Jewish pedestrians Arabs) from Israel and from abroad will

    take part of this exhibition
    To meet each other for a new positive goal
    To give a platform, to share a refreshing dialogue
    To give hope for artists
    (Most of us share a great hope for peace; some of us see that the peace

    process is very slow)
    To sell art for all kind of purposes, that will be declared by the artists
    To take part in neutral, nonpolitical art exhibition, to deal with

    embassies about this new project.
    To make the art expo a new institute; Biennale
    To withdraw donations
    To make a Voluntary association
    To create a logo
    I have list of artists who are part of artist corporations,
    I have list of many artists and we all need ways to communicate
    100 artists like to take part of this initiative
    I do hope to recruit friends to help volunteering
    Sincerely yours

    Ideas Jacques Banne (artist)
    Translation: Dr. Aliza florenthal (artist) ;

    We are a non profit organization

  • Wallace Edward Brand, JD Harvard, 1957

    How many of these people who will tell you that the Jewish settlements are illegal under Internationational Law have ever been to law school and know anything about the subject. The Arab UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinians paid W,.T and Sally Mallison to provide a legal opinion that they were illegal. But the Mallisons based their view on UN Resolutions that are only recommendations. The have no force or effect under International Law unless they are accepted by all parties and written into Treaties. They came up with the farcical proposition that any time a group of Arabs who want to call themselves a “people” like the Palestinians were named by the Soviet dezinformatsiya, can ask the UN to redraw state lines to accommodate a new state, ignoring the territorial inviolability of existing sovereign states that has been the mainstay of world order since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. On the other hand, the Root of the Jewish People’s claim to the territories is based on the Palestine Mandate that was approved by 53 states in 1922, recognizing the Jewish People as owners of all of Palestine west of the Jordan River – from the Jordan to the Sea. If you want to see the details, go to the abstract of my legal opinion at and download the full paper. If you find an error, let me know. Outraged by this gross distortion of International Law, the world acclaimed International Lawyer, Julius Stone wrote a book about it called: Israel Palestine Assault on the Law of Nations. The paper is entitled Claims of the Jewish People and the Arab People to the right of self-determination in Palestine west of the Jordan River. Read it and tell me what you think. The Soviet and Arab effort has spent a lot of petrodollars pushing their view of Jewish settlement illegality such that it is a poetic truth that can’t be dented by facts, logic or reason. But with a little effort, you can see that the Arab claims are false claims.

  • Ira Blassberg

    congratulations on your stand against oxfam
    and your stand against economic boycotts of are an intelligent woman

    • BDS?? Ha ha ha! BDS fail. Since 1948 the Islamic countries had a crushing boycott and secondary boycott against tiny and vulnerable Israel. In 30 years from now, according to Wikipedia Israel’s GDP will be an eye watering $1.2 trillion dollars, and this does not take into account Israel’s 260 billion oil potential in the Shafela.

      While in the same period, most Arab countries have become a failed states killing innocent civilians not from their sect all in the name of Allah. To oil soaked and blood soaked Iran and the Gulf countries? I counter with one word. FRACKING.

      Soon the only thing they can do with their oil and so called influence, Oil is hard to eat and drink.

  • Shalom-Hillel

    The D in BDS stands for DECEPTION and what’s left is pure BS.

  • Beatrix

    People who support BDS have no idea that Palestine was the name Rome gave to Israel, and that the Arab Palestinians went to war and lost the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan and Egypt in 1948. Israel won this land in 1967 and have tried to give it to the Arab Palestinians for over 20 years, but the Arabs want all of Israel.

    They don’t know that Jews and Christians are dhimmini people. That’s why no one has a country in the Mideast except the Muslims. Its the Muslim Palestinian’s job to get Israel and BDS is one way of doing this.

    Europe, the UN and USA donate billions to the Palestinians who have the highest standard of living in the Mideast. There are 500 million Mideastern Muslims to 6 million Jews. The Muslims can afford to wait.

  • Kol Hakavod, Scarlett

  • Arie

    Time for SodaStream to end the contrived “occupation” conspiracy:

    SHUT DOWN the facilities in Judea and Samaria, terminate immediately the employment of the over 1,000 Arab employees (who get paid more then double the national average and had a mosque built for them by the Zionist oppressors), and move the business and jobs to Sderot where the more then 1,000 jobs will be greatly appreciated by Israeli Jews and Arabs and help the economy of the region.

    But then, we all know that will be followed by more excoriation of the “Zionist oppressors” for destroying the “palestinian” economy.

    History of Jews in the face of nazis like bds and oxfam: Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

    • Joyce

      Arie, it is a case of Damned if you don’t and Damned if you do.

  • Arie

    Time for Jews and others to heed the Wiesenthal Center’s advise: Find deserving organizations to donate to that truly believe in humanitarian interests unlike the nazified oxfam and ICRC

  • m.Levant


    Oxfam Belgium produces political poster
    NGO Monitor Digest (Vol. 1 No. 9)
    June 24, 2003

    Oxfam Belgium produced the following poster encouraging the boycotting of Israeli products. The poster reads: “Israeli fruits have a bitter taste…reject the occupation of Palestine, don’t buy Israeli fruits and vegetables.” Well-known Israeli brands and logos are declared as unfit for consumption. The message is blatantly political, and thus in clear contradiction of Oxfam’s mission statement. NGO Monitor consistently attempted to question Oxfam Belgium – via telephone and email – regarding their purpose in conveying the message against Israel. Oxfam Belgium refused to respond.

    • Efram Paul

      Of course they are ignoring you. While their brand of Jew hatred is all too common, it still might cause a decrease in money if their anti-Semitism were to be voiced openly.

  • P gaetti

    Oxfam has a charity shop near where I live and is supposedly to sell not expensive staff. Recently I was ripped off by them , they sold me a fake handbag and when I went back to complain they refused to give my money back . On another occasion My friend was sold what supposedly was an alpaca scarf but as it turn out it wasn’t . I wonder who pockets their charity money goes ?

  • Can management get all the staff to vote if the company shod move it’s manufacturing to Israel?

  • My Planet Israel

    A sophisticated & intelligent woman, not to mention a brilliant artist. Go Scarlett!! Thank You for being a powerful voice of reason!

    • Morry

      Right on!

    • Sandy Osborne

      I total agree My Planet Israel. Scarlet Johansson is a 10+ in my opinion. A smart young woman who made a brave decision. I applaud her for standing up for Israel!

  • Raul Eluchans

    Great Scarlett, You had the courage to defy the Western fools or antisemite organizations who may benefit from being antisemite…
    Proud of you being a friend of the small minority of the world that have made a great contibution to the world….!

  • tedd

    Good job Scarlett now I know what to do. Am non Jew Israel friend . Go Israel don’t give up. I know u r not.

    • Morry

      G-d bless!

  • That Ms Johansson had the guts to stand up for what is right and not bend before the pooh bahs of Oxfam in their blind rush to get onto the bds bandwagon means a great deal.

    She is to be commended as a beacon of reason surrounded by a sea of hate! The Arab jobs she has helped to save could do more for peace than all the verbiage and negativity thrown around by Abbas et. al.

  • Brian Nabney

    As a non-Jewish friend of Israel, who lived in Beit Hashitta, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from 1977 – 1980, I am so glad to hear that a stand is being made against the anti-Jewish BDS who have for so long been attacking Sodastream (See the Sussex Friends of Israel on Facebook). I have already sent an email to Oxfam letting them know that I will no longer be supporting them. I would appeal that everyone do the same, explaining why. This is the only way that the likes of BDS can be defeated. Their lies must be countered. Long live Israel

    • Rob

      Brian if you contact me,I have some foto’s from your Beit Hashitta time.

      gretings Rob the Dutch.(marijanne)

    • Dros mor

      Non – Jewish ? How offensive and sheep like . A real coward

      • Nita Harris

        Dros mor, I am non-Jewish, a Christian, and I so admire Scarlett Johansson for her courage in standing up for what is right. Good girl!

        God Bless Israel and continue to protect her from all the haters who want to destroy her!

  • If bds put as much effort into building a Palestinan nation and a Palestinan economy as they do trying to hurt Israel the Palestinans would benefit

    Unfortunately people like Waters and Omar Barghouti care more about their egos than the Palestinians’ well being.

  • Victoria D Matlock

    Happy She is taking a stand

  • Steven Kalka

    To the best of my knowledge, Oxfam operations act independently from one country to another. While I definitely wouldn’t donate to Oxfam UK, I haven’t heard of Oxfam America taking any stance on Israel. I’m not sure about International.
    I will definitely will hold off donating to the US Division until I find out further info.

    • Mike

      Why? If they go by the brand don’t contribute!

  • GZLives

    Both NPR and the Christian Science Monitor have news pieces from Arabs that have spoken out in SUPPORT of Scarlet Johansson and Sodastream.

    So who and what are these so called activist and charity groups really promoting? Hate? A way to act out your Jew hate under the guise of being anti Israel?

    STOP contributing to OXFAM and support those entities that BDS is trying to boycott.

  • Judy Turner

    I am very happy that Scarlett Johansson is not a mealy mouthed wuss to be used by anti-Israel enthusiasts! Personally, I love my SodaStream and am happy that I do not have to buy Coca-Cola products anymore to get my diet Coke every day. I saw on the Oxfam website all of the anti-Israel enthusiast companies like General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestle, Pepsi, Mars, and now I know what NOT to purchase. I can do without all of them. If there were more courageous people like Scarlett Johansson, there might be real peace instead of the anti-Israel groups who want all the freedoms the world has to offer except to Jews! OXFAM wants politics neutrality except for Jews! Good for Scarlett–let those bullies know Jews can no longer be bullied by the world.

    • GG

      Sarah, please post the link to the companies that support OXFAM that you mentioned. I looked for it on the site but wasn’t able to access it. Thank you.

      • Efram Paul

        I would like to know this too.