Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Scarlett Johansson goes viral in anti-Israel settler campaign


“If only I could make this message go viral,” Scarlett Johansson muses in her new advertisement for SodaStream, the Israeli home fizzy-drink dispenser company that helps the environment, she says, by using “less sugar, less bottles”.

Ms Johansson’s new brand ambassador role and advert for SodaStream, launched online earlier this month and due to air during next Sunday’s Super Bowl, has indeed now gone viral – but in ways neither the husky-voiced Hollywood actress nor the Nasdaq-listed company probably imagined.

The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has seized on Ms Johansson and her association with SodaStream as a rare opportunity to add some unpaid star wattage to their long-running campaign to isolate Israel economically until it withdraws from occupied Palestinian land.

SodaStream makes some of its dispensers, CO2 cylinders and bottles at a former munitions factory in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, outside Jerusalem, in one of Israel’s sprawling settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.

BDS campaigners are now gathering signatures to pressure Oxfam, for which Ms Johansson has also served as an ambassador since 2005, to drop her. The charity says it is opposed to all trade with Israeli settlements, and that it is now “engaged in dialogue” with Ms Johansson over her association with Oxfam.

The ScarJo/SodaStream conundrum has given birth to its own internet memes: Photoshopped images of Ms Johansson sipping soda complacently alongside Palestinians crammed into an Israeli checkpoint, or smiling as she dispenses drinks in front of Israel’s concrete separation wall that runs through the West Bank, and saying: “Set the bubbles free! Palestinians can wait.”

Activists have launched the Twitter hashtag #ScarJos FavoriteSodaStream Flavor, garnering suggestions such as Doctor Pepper Spray, Gaza Calorie Count and Palestinian Punch. more

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