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Super Bowl Ad Pits BDS Against SodaStreamDr. James M. Wall Salem-News.com
The BDS campaign against SodaStream is only one of many such campaigns conducted by supporters of the BDS movement.
(CHICAGO) - A television ad which debuts during the Denver Broncos-Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl game Sunday, features Hollywood film star Scarlett Johansson (shown here in a poster picture).
The ad, for which the company SodaStream, paid $4 million, features Johansson as a sexy, convincing sales person for SodaStream’s home carbonation product.
Johansson should be easily recognized in the TV ad by younger viewers who would know her from her featured role in the movie series, The Avengers. In that series Johansson plays the Black Widow, one of several Marvel Comic characters who fight evil powers as a team.
The picture of Johansson is from a poster for the yet to be released Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which she plays the Black Widow. That picture will be in theaters, April 4.
Johansson has been in many other films, most recently as the off-screen voice of Samantha, the computer-generated “her” in the film Her. In that film, the unseen Samantha establishes a love relationship with a lonely man played by Joaquin Phoenix. The film is set in the future when computers, supposedly, have developed human emotions.
A more recent Johansson film, Under the Skin. premiered in 2013 at the Toronto Film Festival. It will be released to theaters later this year. Two more Black Widow films will be released over the next two years.
The Black Widow, that is, Scarlett Johansson, is also engaged in a real life fight, now being fought largelly out of sight of the average Super Bowl viewer.
That fight is being waged in a BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign against SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates one of its factories in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. BDS is gathering steam as an effective, non-violent program designed to call world attention to business and companies that illegally operate in Occupied Palestine.
SodaStream is no mom and pop operation eager to be of service to Palestinians who need jobs. It is a worldwide profit-oriented corporation, described by Wikipedia as ”the maker of a consumer home carbonation product based on the principles of making a carbonated drink.”
Wikipedia explains further: “The device, like a soda syphon, carbonates water by adding carbon dioxide from a pressurized cylinder to create soda water (or carbonated water) to drink. The company also sells more than 100 different types of concentrated syrups and flavourings to make carbonated drinks”.
SodaStream went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in November 2010. The company is headquartered just outside Tel Aviv. It currently has 13 production plants. Its principal manufacturing facility is located in the long established and still illegal, under international law, settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, the sprawling settlement located along the highway from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Why Ma’ale Adumim? The answer is easy if you think for a moment like a corporate executive responsible to stock holders. Such an executive would figure out that a new plant in an area close to Israel with a labor force desperate for jobs and willing to work for limited wages is a profit-maker. Not only that, but the labor force, so desperate for work, is also living under Israeli military occupation.
And there is more: The work pool in the villages surrounding the exclusively Jewish population of Ma’ale Adumim is all Palestinian, where there are workers who are in no position to bother SodaStream with talk of things like unions, higher wages and better working conditions.
The BDS campaign against SodaStream is only one of many such campaigns conducted by supporters of the BDS movement. SodaStream is operating a plant in an Israeli occupied Palestinian area which, while it may profit the stock holders, still projects an ugly image to outsiders. To clean up that image, SodaStream hired a public relations team to respond to the BDS pressure.
SodaStream looked around for an established, yet still young, movie star to change the subject away from unpleasant topics like occupation and Palestinian exploitation.. SodaStream’s public relations team settled on Hollywood film star Scarlett Johansson, who it just so happened, was already serving as the public face of the British-based non-profit international aid organization, Oxfam.
Johansson agreed to add SodaStream to her portfolio.
Was she aware of the BDS campaign against SodaStream? You may bet your retirement bonus that her public relations handlers were very much aware of that campaign. Did they tell this to Johansson? You know PR people don’t work like that. Maybe the PR people had other ways to persuade Johansson that it was in her best interest to take the job, or maybe Johansson really believes what her press release said, that she wants to foster better Israeli-Palestinian relations. Only Johansson knows.
She could have stayed with Oxfam. Her movie career is picking up; she has two more Black Widow Avengers films in the works. Her role as the voice of Samantha in the film Her, has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Instead, Johansson not only took the SodaStream gig, she soon withdrew from Oxfam.
What led her to take this action? It was a subjective personal decision by a movie star with decades of film-making ahead of her. Johansson is not yet established as a movie star with enough power to reject a gig that, we may assume she assumes, benefits Israel.
After all, she works in Hollywood, the movie-making capital of the world, which is well-known as a center of pro-Israel sentiment. It is also known as a place where politicians like Barack Obama go to raise money from leaders of the film community, who are not known as BDS types.
Hollywood is also a place where the film press can be unforgiving for stars who do not play the game as it is expected to be played. Notice how the Hollywood Reporter tells its readers how quickly Johansson developed an intense devotion to SodaStream. Notice especially the use of the Hollywood adjective, “beloved”.
The Hollywood Reporter also gave some attention to a statement issued in Johansson’s name. Public relations people do not ask stars to issue statements; they know it is best for her image for them to control such statements.
Which is why last Friday, according to the Reporter, the public heard that Johansson “issued a statement in response to the mounting criticism, saying, “I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. 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.”
The Hollywood Reporter also, to its credit, reported from an Oxfam media release which states, “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador.”
Movie stars do not normally get on the wrong side of the conservative media, where the point of view on the Middle East is demonstrated in the coverage of Johansson’s decision to jump from Oxfam to SodaStream, an Israeli-based profit-making international corporation.
Under the headline: “SodaStream ignores anti-Israeli critics to quench Palestinian thirst for jobs”, Fox news reporter Paul Alster gave the SodaStream version of its differences with BDS. Alster makes the case for Ma’ale Adumim as a SoftStream job creator center for Palestinians in need of steady work
Fox News ended by including an Oxfam statement:
Morning television talk shows prefer to ignore the BDS campaign. Here is how ABC treated the SodaStream ad which aired during the Super Bowl. It is the “happy news” approach that gives Johansson a comfort cover which she might not have received had she rejected SodaStream and stuck with Oxfam.
As you view the following video keep in mind, this is the world in which Johansson lives and works.
Juan Cole, writing on his blog, Informed Opinion, sums up all the things Johansson’s PR people and no doubt, her agent, did not want her to know:.
What would you have done if you had never heard what Juan Cole has written? If your movie career, at age 29, depended on playing the game the way your PR people told you to play it, what would you have done? In other words, to quote a biblical source, “she who is without sin, let her cast the first stone”.
Please visit James Wall's Website, Wall Writings
Journalism was Jim Wall’s undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. An ordained United Methodist clergy person; he and his wife, Mary Eleanor, are the parents of three sons, and the grandparents of four grandchildren. They live in Elmhurst, Illinois.
Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. While serving with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years, starting in 1972. Time magazine wrote about the new editor, who arrived at the Christian Century determined to turn the magazine into a hard-hitting news publication. The inspiration for Wall Writings comes from that mindset and from many other sources that have influenced Jim’s writings over the years, including politics, cinema, media, American culture, and the political struggles in the Middle East. Jim has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region. You can write to Jim Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Jim's Website: Wall Writings
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