Fighting BDS – Scarlett Johansson Stands By SodaStream

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Today’s Top BDS Stories:

1. After weeks of silence, Scarlett Johansson “clears the air” about her involvement with SodaStream, framing the company as part of the solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

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.

New York Times blog, The Lede, looks at how the BDS targeted Johansson’s affiliation with Oxfam as it’s main attack on her for supporting SodaStream. And a leading BDS site rounded up the groups that condemned Johansson’s statement.

Meanwhile, Oxfam confirmed that it is “now considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador.”

2. Jay Michaelson – not a BDS supporter – agrees that the movement holds Israel to a double standard, but says that’s justifiable considering the support Israel gets from the U.S. He also says the claim that the movement is inherently anti-Semitic is ineffective:

This accusation, overt or covert, is patently absurd to any college student who knows a BDS supporter (which, to remind readers, I am not). Sure, there are some genuine Jew haters, terrorist sympathizers and other baddies in the crowd. But most BDS supporters on campus are earnest progressives, and anyone not already in the American Israel Public Amen Corner can see that.

Now let’s see how this plays out. Suppose you’re a moderate, and moderately informed, college student. You go to Hillel, and the pro-Israel people there tell you that the BDS movement is “unfairly singling out” Israel or “holding it to a different standard.” They imply that the reasons for this are sinister. Then you walk down your dorm hallway, and chat with your friend who supports BDS. What do you now think of the pro-Israel crowd?

Well, you think they’re idiots, or zealots, or both.

Agree with him or not, Michaelson’s is a voice worth hearing. His 2012 article about how The Left views Israel remains a rare example of honesty from one of its own.

3.  The AJC published a guidebook on academic boycotts against Israel and how to counter them.

Other BDS-Related Content:

* Human rights law expert Richard Heideman offers a strategy to counter American universities boycotting Israel.

* A journalism student tries his hand at defending the double standard against Israel, though not very successfully.

I do not buy the idea that critiquing Israel instead of supposedly worse states means you are anti-Semitic, and I would like to offer a few reasons why. Primarily, there is no duty to critique every state you have a problem with, at every second of the day. This should be obvious, but Zionists seem to want their critics to follow statements like “Israel routinely violates human rights” with “and so does Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, etc.” Most anti-Zionists I have met do have serious problems with elements of all the states mentioned, but they should not have to bring these up every time Israel is being discussed in order to somehow prove that they are not anti-Semitic.

Additionally, the fact that states like Iran have problems does not excuse Israel’s own problems (just like the fact that Israel is supposedly the only democracy in the Middle East does not excuse its human rights violations). Even if one only critiqued Israel’s human rights abuses, it would not make the critique any less accurate (although definitely a bit hypocritical).

The fact that the writer would lump Israel with human rights abusers like Iran and Saudi Arabia shows how little he understands about the situation. I wonder how much awareness the writer could have brought to the suffering of Syrian civilians in the time it took him to defend ignoring them in favor of attacking Israel even more.

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