Guardian interviewer is incredulous at ScarJo’s refusal to cave to BDS bullies

In a 2700 word March 16 cover story about Scarlett Johansson – titled “In Alien Territory” –  published at The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian), roughly 600 words deal with the row involving the actress’s decision to step down as Oxfam ambassador after the NGO criticized her for becoming global brand ambassador for SodaStream.


The Observer, March 16

While Johansson acquitted herself quite well in the interview, conducted by Carole Cadwalladr, what most stands out is how even their media group’s culture critics automatically become experts on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and adopt the Guardian narrative about the conflict.

 is a features writer for The Observer, and though it doesn’t seem she’s ever weighed in on the issues of BDS and Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria previously, she wasn’t shy about boldly making it known which party is in the wrong.

Cadwalladr begins discussing the SodaStream row in the following passages:

I move on to…a difficult subject. SodaStream. When I Google “Scarlett Johansson” the fizzy-drinks maker is the third predictive search suggestion in the list, after “Scarlett Johansson hot” – before even “Scarlett Johansson bum”. A month ago, Johansson found herself caught up in a raging news story when it emerged Oxfam had written to her regarding her decision to become a brand ambassador for SodaStream.

The company, it transpired, manufactures its products in a factory in a settlement on the West Bank, and while “Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors,” it wrote, it also “believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support”.

It of course would be more accurate to say that one of SodaStream’s 13 plants is located in the West Bank’.

Cadwalladr continues:

Johansson responded by stepping down from her Oxfam role. From afar, it looked like she’d received very poor advice; that someone who is paid good money to protect her interests hadn’t done the necessary research before she’d accepted the role and that she’d unwittingly inserted herself into the world’s most intractable geopolitical conflict. By the time Oxfam raised the issue, she was going to get flak if she did step down, flak if she didn’t. Was the whole thing just a bit of a mistake?

Johansson admirably defends her decision:

But she shakes her head. “No, I stand behind that decision. I was aware of that particular factory before I signed it.” Really? “Yes, and… it still doesn’t seem like a problem. Until someone has a solution to the closing of that factory to leaving all those people destitute, that doesn’t seem like the solution to the problem.”

Naturally, Cadwalladr has no rejoinder to Johansson’s central point: that Oxfam and the BDS crowd would evidently rather see hundreds of Palestinians lose a good paying job than tolerate an Israeli factory in the West Bank.

Cadwalladr continues, and pivots to the desired talking points:

But the international community says that the settlements are illegal and shouldn’t be there.

Johansson replies:

“I think that’s something that’s very easily debatable. In that case, I was literally plunged into a conversation that’s way grander and larger than this one particular issue. And there’s no right side or wrong side leaning on this issue.”

Cadwalladr, the Guardian Group journalist that she is, obviously has a little stomach for nuance on the dreaded ‘settlements’ issue, and feigns expertise:

Except, there’s a lot of unanimity, actually, I say, about the settlements on the West Bank.

Evidently, we can assume that the Observer journalist has thoroughly read Article 49(6) of the 1949 Geneva Convention (the primary document cited by international bodies in their determination that Settlements are illegal).  Further, we can be confident that she has come to the conclusion that Israelis who voluntarily moved beyond the green line in the years following  the Six Day War evoke the inhumane practices of the Nazis during and before World War II which that article of the Convention was meant to address.  And, she no doubt also believes that the Convention text concerning “the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization” should be read to prohibit an Israeli factory in one such ‘settlement’ which employs both Jews and Palestinians.

Johansson responds:

“I think in the UK there is,” she says. “That’s one thing I’ve realised… I’m coming into this as someone who sees that factory as a model for some sort of movement forward in a seemingly impossible situation.”

Cadwalladr smugly replies:

Well, not just the UK. There’s also the small matter of the UN security council, the UN general assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice… which all agree that they’re in contravention of international law

Then Cadwalladr gets patronising:

Half of me admires Johansson for sticking to her guns –

Then she gets insulting:

her mother is Jewish and she obviously has strong opinions about Israel and its policies. Half of me thinks she’s hopelessly naive. Or, most likely, poorly advised. Of all the conflicts in all the world to plant yourself in the middle of…

Cadwalladr of course has no idea whether the fact that Johansson’s mother is Jewish influenced her decision to represent SodaStream.

She then suggests a less than admirable motive which ‘some’ may impute:

“When I say a mistake,” I say, “I mean partly because people saw you making a choice between Oxfam – a charity that is out to alleviate global poverty – and accepting a lot of money to advertise a product for a commercial company. For a lot of people, that’s like making a choice between charity – good – and lots of money – greed.”

Johansson responds:

“Sure I think that’s the way you can look at it. But I also think for a non-governmental organisation to be supporting something that’s supporting a political cause… there’s something that feels not right about that to me. There’s plenty of evidence that Oxfam does support and has funded a BDS [boycott, divest, sanctions] movement in the past. It’s something that can’t really be denied.”

Finally, Cadwalladr writes:

When I contacted Oxfam, it denied this.

Oxfam may deny it all they like, but as NGO Monitor (NGOM) demonstrated, they simply are not being honest.

Not only is Oxfam – as Johansson said – a highly politicized organization, NGOM’s director Gerald Steinberg has written the following in response to Oxfam’s denial that they support BDS:

Oxfam denied that it was involved in BDS, but the facts proved the contrary. Between 2011 and 2013, the Dutch branch, known as Oxfam Novib, provided almost $500,000 (largely from government funds provided ostensibly for humanitarian aid) to one of the most radical BDS leaders, the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP). This group also received funds from Oxfam GB (Great Britain). The discrepancy between Oxfam’s claims and the documentation of its role in BDS was highlighted by SodaStream executives and in a number of media articles.

Although CWP is technically an Israel-based NGO, almost all of its activities are focused externally in promoting boycott campaigns, particularly in Europe. (For political purposes, ever since the NGO Forum of the infamous 2001 UN Durban anti-racism conference, the Arab and European leaders of BDS often use fringe Israeli and Jewish groups as facades, and this is the case with CWP.) 

Though Cadwalladr was wrong on the facts, “half of me admires” her “for sticking to her guns”.  But “half of me thinks she’s hopelessly naive…or, most likely, poorly advised” by her Guardian handlers.

“Of all the conflicts in all the world to plant yourself in the middle of…”

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63 replies »

  1. her mother is Jewish and she obviously has strong opinions about Israel and its policies.
    It’s not clear from the structure of the “interview” whether Cadwallaldr actually made statements like this one to Johannson or whether she inserted them when writing her article. It is possible that she omitted Scarlett’s reaction when editing, but either way it is poor journalism.

    • Grasping at straws again? Oxfam has become an embarrassment for being willing to see Palestinians starve rather than having jobs in disputed territory.

      Sodastream promotes environmental sensitivity. Of course, in the minds of libero-fascists, everything takes a back seat to the Arabist agenda.

      • So…. Golden Dawn is a Right wing political group, yes? With their Nationalism and need to exemplify a one-race perspective in politics? These guys are quite the opposite of Liberals. Are they somehow not Fascist but the Green party is? Explain to me. I actually want to know where this line of thinking comes from.

        For the record, I’m a Liberal because I want a social net devised with my tax money; because I respect the environment around me and don’t want my nation paved; because I believe in alternative medicine, alternative energy, and alternative nutrition. In short, I want more love than war. NOW, can someone explain how my LIBERALISM is at the same time FASCIST?

        Alas I ask that the answer refrains from the “Hitler was a vegetarian who hated smoking!” explanation that I often hear from Rush Limbaugh lovers. Rush, to those outside of America, is just like Ben White. A blowhard driving down the wrong way of a one way street seeking confrontation.

        • In vernacular usage, the word “fascist” has often been applied to those who do not tolerate deviation from their way of thinking and / or agendas and try to force their thinking on others, hence terms like “Islamofacist.”

          I did not imply that all liberals are indeed libero-fascist, but since you had already declared your enmity towards me in previous posts, it’s not surprising that you would try to interpret it that way. I also happen to be liberal when it comes to social / domestic issues such as poverty and the environment.

          It is simply very unfortunate that, by and large, leftists support behind Palestinians, while rightists support Israel. Ergo, my comment about the backseat. Adam’s headline for this post underscores the point that Cadwalladr expresses incredulity that Johanssen does not submit to the BDS doctrine. As The Observer is aptly described as leftist, it is a safe assumption that Cadwalladr is leftist and intolerant as well, therefore libero-fascist.
          2 + 2 = 4.

          • Why do you think this is a dig at you? Yes, you use that phrase a lot. Yes, my comment is directed towards the usage of that phrase.

            I more understand your use of libero-fascist, although that doesn’t verify the usage of the statement. I will consider it your colloquial terminology and leave it at that.

            • Why do I think that is a dig at me? I identify two individuals here as personal enemies: Pretzelberg and you.

              And yeah, I do use that term a lot. You may have missed the news about a delegitimization campaign against Israel, generally conducted by leftists.

                  • At this point, I will take anyone’s side short of the whacked out Nazis and sad sacks of poo versus yours. Especially if you begin a thread that obnoxiously calls somebody out while using poor terminology.

                    Hey… Guess what? I’ve got an opinion ABOUT YOU? How dare I!

                    • Fine and dandy with me, although I doubt that it would soothe your ego. And exactly what thread did I begin on this?

                      And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you have decided to ally yourself with my enemy. My opinions run counter to many people here. Alex, the sock puppet du jour, et al may be enemies of Israel, but since they don’t seek me out for attack, I don’t consider them to be personal enemies.

                    • Like I said, what thread did I start? I’m just not providing your ego with the chance of passing more judgment am I?

                      You’re welcome!

        • Koufax – on the whole I agree with your liberal aims (except I think many alternative medicines are entirely fake). However, in my view, it is perfectly possible for liberals – or anyone else for that matter – to be “fascist” in their outlook, as I believe the whole left/right spectrum is a vast over-simplification. To me, fascism does not necessarily mean extreme right wing, but is a description of anyone who believes that everyone should abide to their world view, and that anyone who disagrees with them or opposes them is to be ridiculed, marginalised and discredited.

          Therefore, the Atzmons of this world may share many of your (and my) liberal sensitivities, but they will be fascist in their approach at the same time. I prefer the live and let live approach. You don’t bother me (or shoot rockets at Israeli civilians) and I won’t bother you.

          • You and I are a lot alike, Labenal, at least as I gather from your commentary here. You do put up with other people’s bullshit much more… civilly, I’d say.

            I guess I come from the school of thought that can deny one’s liberal identity if/when that person is seen to follow false notions. Folks like Ben White prove to me every day that the label is more important than the substance.

            For the record, a Fascist government, by my understanding, is one run by corporations. As opposed to the true democracy of people’s votes, it’s the power of the unelected and their influence. The Nazi government was one of private industry. The camps were based on slave labor who built the war machinery, and clothes, and other what-have-yous.

    • Fritz “Can’t have it all: Johansson is beautiful but obviously not very smart.”

      More chauvinistic dogma from a self-styled champion of human progress. By your own standards, that would make you an intellectual tour-de-force with the physical attributes of a train crash.

    • Fraud,
      You’re confusing Scarlett Johansson with that dumb as a post interviewer, whose mind has been through the wash and spin cycles of British media life dozens of times.
      Scarlett is hot, Oxfam is not.
      Scarlett is cool, the interviewer – a fool.

    • Indeed. How is the interviewer to know that she “obviously has strong opinions about Israel”?

      • Why doesn’t Cadwallaldr take a vote of the Palstinian workers at SodaStream. See how they feel about having a decent paying job. Also, if Cadwallaldr is not Jewish, does that mean she is automatically anti-Israel or anti-Jewish? Her assumptions about the actress are silly, if not stupid. Shame on her employer!

        • Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that does poll the workers at Sodastream. Do you really think that it would make any difference for the Groan? At best, it would be ignored. At worst, the accusations of answering positively about Sodsastream out of fear would instantly start flying.

          Where is there any indication that being gentile automatically qualifies one as anti-Semitic?

          • Michael. I believe Sally was making the point that Cadwalladr was stupid to assume that ScarJo “obviously has strong opinions about Israel” simply on the basis of the fact she is Jewish. It is similarly preposterous to suggest that a non-Jew “obviously has strong views” about anything.

  2. Good for her–not easy to stand up to this kind of journalistic bullying. Amazing how smug these antiIsrael types are, secure in their obsessive but fashionable hatred of Israel, the facts be damned.
    And how ironic that this interviewer sounds so really pathetically stupid about the facts and desperate to push the Guardian’s racist antiSemitic agenda.

  3. “But the international community says that the settlements are illegal and shouldn’t be there.”
    And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
    And remember, gainful employment promotes poverty.

  4. ” Of all the conflicts in all the world to plant yourself in the middle of…”

    Er, is The Guardian or Observer short of celebrities who do exactly that?

  5. Further, we can be confident that she has come to the conclusion that Israelis who voluntarily moved beyond the green line in ’67 evoke the inhumane practices of the Nazis during and before World War II …

    Again CifW goes way OTT. There is zero evidence of her making such a conclusion or claim.

    You have deliberately misquoted the Convention. No section of it refers to “the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories for purposes of extermination, slave labor or colonization”.

    The interviewer was presumably referring to the actual text of article 49:
    The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

    Why didn’t you include that excerpt?

    Like you I think the interviewer is full of shit re. Johansson. But there’s no need to make up things for the purpose of a cheap smear.

    • You’ve misread the paragraph you are complaining about. What it’s really saying, as I see it, is that this dumb, biased interviewer knows nothing about the settlements.

  6. Strange, why was my comment on Natzie Wunderbar deleted? Obviously his strategy makes progress.

    The posters at Al Guardian offer a bizarre insight on the applications of the posting rules of the Islam-by-oil Guardian: be personal, no factual arguments allowed.
    she can’t act
    The reason this girl is so celebrated is because half the planet wants to f
    The face is monotonous and tabula rasa in my opinion — a window into an amoral, cynical, frivolous world outlook. Don’t be fooled by a fleshy mask
    Nothing special about this person. Another face for rent.
    Dead sexy woman. Shame she’s a scumbag.
    and so on

    This antisemitic mob searches for a new fuehrer, Putin or some Islamist. Al Guardian gives them advice on the way.

    • The end of the article is telling, of the obsessions of Cadwalladr, being on the wrong side, asking for power, not interviewd, not a celebrity, just one of the ordinary folk who, as each of the ordinary folk, is allowed to ask the power, aka Johannson aka the Elders, some questions.
      I don’t get a chance to return to the subject of Under the Skin. The publicist ends the interview. But as a parable for celebrities’ relations with us ordinary folk, the difference in our lives, and that tension between where the power truly lies – With them? With us? – it doesn’t get more acute. There’s even a masked man on a motorbike who goes around scooping up the bodies. I should know – one of them escorts me from the room.

  7. Half of me admires Johansson for sticking to her guns – her mother is Jewish and she obviously has strong opinions about Israel and its policies. Half of me thinks she’s hopelessly naive. Or, most likely, poorly advised.

    Looking at a patronising and offensive comment like the above, both halves of me say this was the first and last interview Carole Cadwalladr will get with Johansson.

    • Let’s hope so thick spoiled so called actress, she done more for the Palestinian cause than even you lot of Zionist monkeys

      • And you call her a “thick, spoiled actress” on what basis precisely? Because she disagrees with you? Or are all actresses “thick and spoiled?” Or is it just Jewish actresses? Is that not a tad … prejudiced”?

        “You lot of Zionist monkeys”. Is that a step up from “pigs and dogs”? We should cheer any sign of progress. We’re getting there, fellow Zionist monkeys!

  8. I notice The Guardian is running a film review for the new Scarlett Johansson film Under the Skin with the headline [Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin: ‘prick her and she doesn’t bleed’]. Anyone familiar with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice will recognize the reference. This seems to me to be an entirely gratuitous (and somewhat negative) reference to Ms Johansson’s Jewish origins or am I just reading too much into it? What do other readers think?

    • ‘HouseMouse’ I read your post and had this strange feeling of deja vu.

      Then I remembered you asked the same question, the same way using the same wording on a different thread in your post of March 15, 2014 @ 1:47 PM on the “What about…..” thread.

      • Well spotted Gerald. I simply cut and pasted the earlier post as it was inappropriate (off-topic) on the other thread.

        • Well done, HM. This is a far more relevant thread for your post! For the record, I can’t see anything in the article that justifies/explains the heading, so I would agree that its use is questionable at best!

    • “Adopt the guardian narrative on it” you mean the truth of the situation , watched an idiot abroad , in Israel wow what democracy , soldiers everywhere, and then the apartheid wall , you should be so proud . Democracy in action down the barrel of a gun . Oh the humanity, so humbling

      • Soldiers everywhere because your “heroes” try to murder us all the time. That shows your callousness.

        You should also learn the meanings of words like “apartheid” before you throw them around so capriciously. That shows your stupidity.

        The barrier is only a wall for five percent of its length. That shows your ignorance.

          • Those haven’t tried…yet. Many have in similar situations. Very many more have tried. Some have succeeded. Since they don’t do us the courtesy of identifying which ones are the ones to do so, perhaps you could inform the IDF of that in advance.

      • Speaking of Pride, how you must swell inside everytime a depressed Palestinian teenager is injected with a blood disease so when he explodes while standing in line at a pizza joint, or at a disco, or in a university cafeteria, or on a bus, or at a shopping mall, or maybe even during a Seder at Pesach which invites strangers to eat beside each other, he can infect the living as well as murder the dead.

        And yet you wonder why we see you as such a waste of space, time, energy, and oxygen. It must be because you’re always right, Noam!

        • only politically and morally, we all know right from wrong and you lot are wrong, you get more and more like the land grabbers of the USA blaming the native american indians for trying to fight back against the stealing of their lands, long live the palestinian people

          • See what you did there, Noam? You just doubled down on how much of a historical illiterate you are.

            This is why you don’t have a state. This is why your purpose is considered a futile joke of shit.

            You are going around in circles screaming at everyone that we’re keeping you from getting someplace. Go eat a bag of shit covered dicks, Noam. You’re a loser and a moron and you have no chance at a happy future.

              • You are right, noam. How immature to resort to name calling.

                noam: ScarJo is a “thick spoiled actress”
                noam: “same old bullshit from the same old gang of zionist propaganda merchants…boring twaddle”?

          • Blah Blah Blah.

            Show one Caucasian American who, two thousand years ago, said “next year in Jerusalem.”

            If you can’t, then stop your inappropriate comparisons.