Sunday, February 09, 2014

By any objective yardstick, the SodaStream/Scarlett Johansson episode was an unmitigated disaster for BDS. But Max Blumenthal, whose rabid anti-Zionism and series of provable and verified lies have ensured that he can no longer be published except in Mondoweiss and Arab news outlets, writes a fantasy about Scarlett Johansson to try to fit the facts of the past couple of weeks into his very limited worldview - and try to spin a major BDS loss.

Writing in the UAE's "The National," Blumenthal talks about how Hollywood celebrities used to publicly embrace Israel, but are less  likely to do so today.

The reason?
These days, celebrities who shill for Israel can expect to be relentlessly harried and forced to declare where they stand on Israel’s ongoing dispossession of Palestinians.

For those who have attached themselves to humanitarian do-gooder causes, the potential for PR damage is considerable — certainly enough to give them second thoughts. As the price tag on pro-Israel activity rises, some performers are quietly opting out of attractive deals before the controversy shatters their image.

But others like Scarlett Johansson, the comely blonde starlet described by Woody Allen as “sexually overwhelming” were not willing to let apartheid get in the way of a sizeable profit.

In January, the Israeli company Sodastream signed Johansson to promote its home soda-making machines in a $16 million (Dh58.8m) Super Bowl ad that featured her sucking suggestively on a straw off-and-on for two minutes.

Johansson, a standard-fare Hollywood liberal who proclaimed in 2008 that her “heart belongs to Barack”, cast her deal with Sodastream as a shining example of “conscious consumerism and transparency”.

She seemed oblivious to the fact that Sodastream operates out of Maale Adumim, an illegal Israeli mega-settlement built on privately owned Palestinian land whose master plan would eventually bisect the West Bank.
Blumenthal exposes his usual disregard for journalistic ethics and basic facts, of course - one minute of Super Bowl advertising cost about $8 million, not $16 million; the ad was only one minute long, Maale Adumim was not built on privately owned Arab land (except for 0.5% of it,) none of Mishor Adumim where SodaStream's factory is located was built on Arab land, even Israel's far left accepts that Maale Adumim would be part of Israel in any peace agreement, and in no way does it "bisect the West Bank."

He even says that Oxfam forced Johansson out, when the truth is the exact opposite.

Proving that Blumenthal is a liar is too easy.

The funny part is how desperately Blumenthal is trying to spin an episode that was a huge disaster for BDS into a victory.

His thesis that no major Hollywood figure today would support Israel as they did in the past is quite demolished by what Scarlett Johansson actually did do - although he blames her love of money, and doesn't mention that she isn't exactly hurting for cash.

True, there are some B-listers - washed-up rock stars and second-rate acts - that have bowed to pressure and joined the boycott of Israel. Why did they do that? Well, according to Blumenthal, it has nothing to do with what they really believe in.

It is because the Israel haters who push the boycott are bullies! And they are proud of it!

Blumenthal says it explicitly: "celebrities who shill for Israel can expect to be relentlessly harried." The haters expect that thin-skinned celebrities, who are allergic to controversy, will scamper away from any hint of trouble. Sometimes, they are right. It has absolutely nothing to do with the righteousness of their cause - it has to do with the fact that the haters can instantly raise an army of brainless Facebook drones to threaten people who are often not very self-confident to begin with.

Johansson not only pushed back against the BDSers  she pushed back on humanitarian grounds! She explained why the BDS goals actually would hurt the people they pretend to care about. She exposed their hypocrisy in a very public way. (This is another point that Blumenthal studiously avoids mentioning.)

This episode did not damage Johansson's star power one bit.

The biggest losers were Oxfam and the BDS movement itself.

Oxfam is now sputtering and making itself look idiotic as it tries to justify its desire to throw hundreds of Arabs out into the street without salaries or healthcare. The halo effect of Oxfam being a humanitarian organization has been considerably dimmed.

But Oxfam, in trying to defend itself, has in turn thrown the BDS movement under the bus! It has been publicly forced to say that it does not support boycotting Israel and it is distancing itself from haters like Max Blumenthal.

Whether that is true or not is besides the point - Oxfam does give plenty of money to organizations that do support BDS - but nevertheless a major humanitarian NGO is publicly saying that boycotting Israel  is immoral and beyond the pale, and it is jumping through hoops to make fine distinctions so that it cannot be accused of supporting BDS explicitly.

How on Earth can anyone think that BDS won?

The only people who can believe that are those who spend so much time lying that they can no longer distinguish truth from fantasy.

Like Max Blumenthal.

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