Thursday, 30 January 2014

Scarlett Johansson is a heroine for standing up to Oxfam’s disgraceful anti-Israeli bullying

Scarlett Johansson doesn’t mean that much to me, probably because she tends to appear in the sort of film I don’t watch (the last one I can remember seeing her in was Lost in Translation ten years ago, which nearly bored me insensible). I’ve seen her in tons of TV and magazine adverts for "luxury" brands over the years, but I wasn’t aware of her role as an ambassador for Oxfam until I read today that she had given up her role with the charity after eight years because of her connection with the Israeli company SodaStream.

Apparently Oxfam objects to the fact that SodaStream has a factory in an Israeli West Bank settlement. Although the factory employs Palestinian workers on the same terms as Israelis, Oxfam feels that such businesses further “the poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian community”.

Horseshit.

Only left-liberal “humanitarians” would accuse a company providing jobs for members of one of their pet victim groups of exacerbating that group’s poverty. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, Oxfam's stated purpose is to alleviate poverty. How does demanding the closure of a factory provididing non-exploitative jobs further the charity's stated purpose? Does Oxfam seriously believe that, left to their own devices, the Palestinians would be better at creating jobs than Israeli companies? Of course not. As Oxfam's overriding aim is to alleviate poverty, it should be militating for an extension of Israeli economic activity wherever it would mean fewer Palestinians relying on hand-outs. But, then, many well-funded charities these days seem far more interested in pursuing irrelevant left-wing political agendas that in spending the money we give them on alleviating the forms of injustice and suffering they were set up to tackle.

I have no reason to disbelieve Ms Johansson’s official statement that she sees SodaStream as a company committed to “building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights." But as SodaStream is a business whose main purpose is to turn a profit, leftist charity chiefs no doubt see it as intrinsically evil and exploitative – despite the fact that all charitable funding ultimately comes from the private sector (unless, of course, you count politically subversive funding from left-wing slave-states).

I have no idea whether the fact that Scarlett Johansson is half-Jewish (she has described herself as Jewish in the past) had anything to do with her split with Oxfam, but it seems unlikely, given that her relationship with the company is recent and that she doesn’t appear to have acted as an advocate for Israel or specifically Jewish causes in the past. Although she describes her politics as “independent”, she appears to be a standard-issue Hollywood liberal, having supported the presidential campaigns of both John Kerry and Barack Obama, so her refusal to toe the standard left-wing line on Israel strikes me as particularly admirable.

The other day I suggested it would be useful to have a website listing the political activities and pronouncement of actors and comedians so that conservatives could decide whether they really wanted to advance the careers of people who despise them. I also think it would be useful to have an online guide to charities which (a) listed how much of their funding is spent on employees’ salaries and (b) provided reliable evidence of the charities' covert (or overt) political agendas, so that compassionate conservatives won’t inadvertently be fooled into funding causes which are anathema to them: for instance, as a supporter of Israel, I won’t be spending another penny in Oxfam bookshops, just as I refuse to give money to the RSPCA due to of its leftist obsession with persecuting fox-hunters, or to Amnesty International because of its chronic bias against Western-backed countries.  

10 comments:

  1. I'll ignore your points about Lost in Translation, a genuinely intelligent, original and thoughtful film coming out of an era full of repetitive, violent, dumb-ass star vehicles. But why are you surprised at some one who can at the same time vote Democrat and also stand up against the prevailing lefty anti-Israel orthodoxy? Why is that stance any more admirable or surprising when coming from the left than the right?

    Most sensible people have a strange rag bag of views that criss-cross party and political boundaries. That's one of the many reasons why the most reflective and self-questioning of our contemporaries never went into politics. Whether it was because we couldn't decide at all, or we knew what we were but didn't sign up to the full package, the end result was the same.

    By all means try out your online celeb-views register but accept that it's quite possible to hate fox hunting, support Israel, argue for tighter immigration control and deplore the RSPCA's political campaigning at one and the same time without attracting accusations of inconsistency.

    The opening sequence of Lost in Translation also has some very attractive shots of …contd page 94

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    1. "Why is that stance any more admirable or surprising when coming from the left than the right?"

      Given that anti-Semitism used to be seen as a problem for the Right, I thinks it's not particularly brave or surprising for conservatives these days to disassociate themselves from it. It’s different on the Left, where, as the left-wing commentator Nick Cohen pointed out in his excellent book, “What’s Left?”, anti-Semitism has become the norm, whether masquerading as anti-Zionist “compassion” for Palestinians or whatever. A young actress like Scarlett Johansson, in taking what could be interpreted as pro-Israeli stance in a Left-dominated movie industry which had formerly seen her as politically one of their own, could lose work as a result – which is why I find her stance more admirable than if it had been taken by a right-wing actor.

      To illustrate your point about people’s tendency to hold pick ‘n’ mix views, the prominent Tory politician and sex-maniac Alan Clark was ant-smoking and anti-fox hunting, just like a certain foreign politician of an earlier era, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have agreed on everything.

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    2. Although I'm generally an admirer of Bill Murray's stone-faced style of comedy under-acting, I thought he went too far in Lost in Translation - I also generally find it hard to care about rich entertainment industry folk and what ails them, even in fiction.

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  2. ex-KCS. Agree with all you say. Well put.

    By the way, are you one of these persons with tiny red caps who used to furtively hang about at the entrance room at 6a Woodhayes Rd? If so, what news of Major Basil Carew-Hunte? Am writing my memoirs and there's no p94......

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    1. I'm afraid not, SDG. I was neither a smoker nor a Junior School pupil. Sadly, I have no news of the Major either. I remember very little of him other than the nickname Screwy and some discussion about the pronunciation of Carew..

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    2. Thank God you didn't mention the second part of Basil's ncikname, which rhymed with "Hunt".

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    3. Basil Carew-Hunt must have been gathered by our great redeemer very many years ago. He would now be about a hundred years old. My last memory of him was the sight of him leaning on the bar in the Hand in Hand - a glass in one hand and a fag in the other. Curiously, this was often how he conducted his O level French lessons; one could hear the chink of glass and see the clouds of smoke as he perused the race cards in the Daily Express. The great joy was that our parents paid handsomely for this privilege of independent education. Incidentally a favoured pronunciation of Carew rhymes with Mary which presents a noteworthy Spoonerism.

      http://scottgronmark.blogspot.com/logout?d=http://www.blogger.com/logout-redirect.g?blogID%3D2215553202978284468%26postID%3D6281855426925764321tion of Carew

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  3. Carey Hunt? Really? Oh dear.
    He's been propping up that great bar in the sky these many years. "A schooner of sherry, landlord!" and "I insist you let me out of this vehicle" were two of his catch-phrases.
    Yes, what is is about French teachers - remember Martin Checksfield, another glass and fag merchant?
    Fortunately, my school fees were paid by the Norwegian Air Force, bless them.

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    1. Checksfield also gathered, and he was booted out of Cambridge in his youth. His latter years were as a destitute, living under railway arches and begging drinks from his former pupils, V sad

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  4. No discussion of KCS French teachers would be complete without a mention of Fred Cosstick. I remember when...actually, just the mention will do.

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