In the wake of SodaStream’s apparent capitulation to BDS, an open appeal to ScarJo to save yet another group of West Bank workers. (Satire)
Text by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org
Can I call you ScarJo? It’s been a great year for you: you had a baby, you got married, you turned 30. But I know a painful anniversary is just around the corner. For it was almost a year ago that you put your good name on the line to defend the jobs of SodaStream’s West Bank Palestinian workers.
The controversy surrounding your Super Bowl ad raised much needed awareness of both home soft drink carbonation and also how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement unfairly singles out Israeli settlements for violating international law when there are so many other Israeli violations of international law to consider.
As you said at the time (actual quote, not satire), “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.”
Until your brave and accurate words, most people didn’t know that SodaStream’s Palestinian workers are welcome to carry assault rifles when they visit their Israeli neighbors. Or that if Palestinians decide to create a new outpost on any hilltop in the West Bank, it’s instantly given full access to the water and electrical grid. Or that SodaStream’s Palestinian and Israeli workers all take weekend trips together to Eilat to go water skiing.
So strong was your commitment to this “fantastic sanctuary of coexistence” (actual quote) that you were willing to forgo your global ambassadorship with Oxfam to protest that humanitarian organization’s narrow-minded and prejudicial adherence to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
At the time Oxfam released a statement saying: “We’re sorry to see Scarlett Johansson go, but we’ve got plenty more poverty-fighting star power where she came from. Who can ignore Syrian refugees when they’re being accompanied by Michelle Dockery. … Yes, THE Michelle Dockery. … You know … from Downton Abbey? Lady Mary. The one who married Matthew Crawley…. And then he died in the Christmas special — I cried my eyes out. … That Michelle Dockery. Very famous. And classy.”
As coverage continued to hit major media, awareness of BDS shot up while SodaStream’s profits and stock prices plummeted. You shouldn’t take it personally, ScarJo — those activists had some very clever memes. You were in most of them!
— Stephanie Westbrook (@stephinrome) January 19, 2014
Now SodaStream says it will move its operations across the Green Line to Israel’s Negev desert. The company says the move is purely for “purely commercial” reasons unrelated to BDS. But can you really believe that, ScarJo? You, who chose a paid endorsement deal over a humanitarian NGO? Would the SodaStream you know abandon its Palestinian workers for “purely commercial” reasons?
By the way, targets of BDS citing “purely commercial” reasons for changing policy is like a disgraced politician saying they’re resigning from office in order to “spend more time with their family.” If BDS ever succeeds, you can bet that the Israeli army and settlers will all say they’re withdrawing from the occupied territories in order to “spend more time with their families.”
But ScarJo, I digress.
Now that SodaStream is abandoning its West Bank workers, another group of Palestinian beverage makers desperately needs your help. The Cremisan Monastery, which includes a winery that employs local Palestinians, is threatened by the Israeli separation wall. If built as planned, the wall will cut off the monastery and winery from the West Bank town of Beit Jala, leaving the grapes on one side and the workers on the other!
This Palestinian Christian community has tried everything. They’ve filed legal appeals. They’ve petitioned the Pope. They’ve had public prayer vigils every week for three years in the sun, rain and even snow.
So far, no dice.
As years of court battles enter their final chapters, the last hearing in the case came on November 30 — the first day of Advent. As these Palestinian Christians have been waiting for Christmas, they’ve also been waiting for a verdict.
And so ScarJo, now they’re waiting for you.
In your Super Bowl ad you (actually) said, “like most actors, my job is saving the world.” And your past statements about “building a bridge to peace” show that you couldn’t possibly be in favor of walls that divide! Won’t you please use your powers of international celebrity to save Cremisan — and save Christmas for its Palestinian workers?
They’ve already tried the Pope, God and the Israeli High Court of Justice. Who else can they turn to? Michelle freaking Dockery? You couldn’t save SodaStream, but maybe now you can save Cremisan! All they need is a Christmas miracle!
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How does SodaStream treat its Palestinian workers when the media isn’t looking?