Jewish Journal

How John Kerry destroyed what Scarlett Johansson built

by Noga Gur-Arieh

February 12, 2014 | 8:30 am

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters near the Jordanian city of Mafraq on July 18. Photo by Mandel Ngan/Reuters

In her response to the criticism of her collaboration with SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson gave a winning argument: “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.” (Read more here)

Her statement was a punch in the gut of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement: SodaStream employs Palestinians, helps build bridges to peace and basically helping to end the conflict. To top that, many Palestinian employees of SodaStream supported her statement, saying they "have no problem working there" and that "The relations with the others are good and the pay is fine." Johansson’s and the workers’ statements really left no room for doubt. Boycotting SodaStream will hurt the Palestinians, not help them, and create a division in place of unity.

This did not stop members of the BDS movement from crushing poor Scarlett for her terrible crime of working with an Israeli company. Cruel memes were created, vicious words of hatred filled her Facebook page and her former ally, Oxfam, dissed her publicly (an act that led to her ending her work with them).

This time, the BDS folks have really outdone themselves. They did not bore themselves with details, and re-issued their pre-made program: If it is Israeli, it must be destroyed. This truly exposed their true nature to those who weren’t aware of it before. While putting on a show of human-rights support, the BDS movement is nothing but a bunch of people obsessed with Israel. They don’t want peace, they don’t care about the Palestinians, they just want the State of Israel out of the picture.

What could have been a nice common-sense victory over vain hatred and bigotry turned into another forgettable event. The Scarlett Johansson-SodaStream story could have been the cherry on top of the list of current events exposing BDS true, ugly intentions, such as 200 academic institutions shunning the American Studies Association (ASA)’s call to boycott Israel. This could have caused a serious damage to the group of haters who only push peace further away. Instead, it was used as a leverage for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pressure Israel into a peace treaty with the Palestinians — and moreover, to present Israel as the one to blame if the negotiations fail.

Last week, Kerry launched a minor threat toward Israel, warning it could face international isolation if the negotiations fail. Kerry, a representative of one of Israel’s closest friends and a person who is supposed to encourage peace, has done the unspeakable and picked a side.  Even if it wasn’t his true intention, he combined forces with the BDS movement by putting the entire conflict on Israel’s soldiers.

Negotiation, by definition, is “a discussion intended to produce an agreement.” Synonyms of this word are “dialogue” and “talks.” So, by definition, a negotiation is a party of more than one. A negotiation is a process in which all sides involved must make compromises. Give some, take some. The current peace talks, however, are often presented as a negotiation in which one side wants everything, the other side is attempting to compromise and the latter is being accused of every bump on the road.


This scenario, wherein the only obstacle to peace is Israel, is something the BDS folks worked hard to achieve. Kerry’s statement gave it an official, formal legitimization. At this point, all that’s left to hope is that Scarlett Johansson’s viral wave will make more of an impact than Kerry’s, and that Kerry’s words were meaningless/taken out of context/fill in the blank. If not, then we are facing a serious problem — and the very real possibility of everlasting conflict and international isolation.


Peace can only be achieved once both sides agree to share the burden, and want it so bad that they’re willing to compromise. Putting all the responsibility on one side will do nothing but push peace further away. This scenario is not the one Israel, nor Palestine, wants. It is the scenario the BDS movement wants, and after fighting so hard to expose their true face, we must not give them the satisfaction of winning.


Watch here Oxfam's Director of Policy Ben Phillips trying to make sense of his hatred toward Israel,  and SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum explaining his side of the story

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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