Former Pink Floyd front man and bassist Roger Waters, a prominent anti-Israel activist, took to Facebook over the weekend to criticize Scarlett Johansson – with whom he admitted he “was somewhat smitten” - for her choice to represent an Israeli company over the international aid group Oxfam.
Roger Waters, center, founding member of Pink Floyd, meets U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sits waiting for the start of a meeting on Palestine, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 in New York. (AP)
Scarlett Johansson announced her resignation last week from her role as Oxfam ambassador after the aid organization suggested that it was reconsidering her position due to her signing on as a spokeswoman for SodaStream, an Israeli company that has a factory in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
Johansson's spokesman said the 29-year-old actress had "a fundamental difference of opinion" with Oxfam as a result of the group’s opposition to all trade from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
SodaStream which makes do-it-yourself carbonated drink kits and has a factory in Ma’ale Adumim, a Jewish community a 15-minute drive from Jerusalem, has been a target for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) and groups like CODEPINK, even though the company employs 900 Palestinians who are widely reported to receive respectable pay and benefits.
Waters who promotes boycotting Israel said he had written to both Johansson and musician Neil Young, who recently announced a concert in Israel, but had not heard back from either.
In his Facebook post, Waters described a meeting with Johansson. “Scarlett? Ah, Scarlett,” Waters wrote. “I met Scarlett a year or so ago, I think it was at a Cream reunion concert at MSG. She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney's private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten. There's no fool like an old fool.”
“A few years down the line, Scarlett's choice of Soda Stream over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize,” Waters wrote.
He later posed a series of rhetorical questions in an effort to convince Johansson of what he believes to be institutional mistreatment of Palestinians.
He wrote, “in ‘Democratic’ Israel there are fifty laws that discriminate against non Jewish citizens.”
“I am not going to attempt to list, either those laws(they are on the statute book in the Knesset for all to research) or all the other grave human rights abuses of Israeli domestic and foreign policy. I would run out of space,” Waters wrote. “But, to return to my friend Scarlett Johanson. Scarlett, I have read your reposts and excuses, in them you claim that the Palestinian workers in the factory have equal pay, benefits and ‘Equal rights’. Really? Equal Rights? Do they?”
“Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think Soda Stream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention,” Waters added.
Johansson has said she supports SodaStream, because it encourages economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians.
“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. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day,” Johansson said on January 24.
Waters faced accusations of anti-Semitism last summer after using a controversial prop on his concert tour, that is, a giant pig emblazoned with a Star of David. Waters hit back at his critics, insisting the symbol was meant to target the State of Israel, not the Jewish faith.
Johansson is set to star in a SodaStream commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl; however, USA Today reported that Fox told SodaStream it would only air the ad if four key words were cut, "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi."
SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told USA Today that he would comply with the demand, but said of Fox, “They're afraid of Coke and Pepsi.”
The network request was reportedly due to both Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s purchase of Super Bowl ads, with Pepsi sponsoring the halftime show.
SodaStream posted an uncut version of the ad on YouTube, which has had more than 8.7 million views and counting. Watch the uncut SodaStream ad:
(H/T: Times of Israel)