by Melanie Phillips
Rarely can the off-screen performance of a Hollywood star have had such a galvanic effect upon the morale of a besieged group of people.
When Oxfam attacked Scarlett Johannson for advertising SodaStream, the gaseous gizmo whose bubbles are apparently toxic for being manufactured in Mishor Adumim just over Israel’s Green Line, the charity was expected to sack the actress as its public face.
But, as the attacks on her by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions crowd reached fever pitch, Ms Johansson stunned everyone by sacking Oxfam, on the grounds that she was a supporter of “economic co-operation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine”. Which, by implication, Oxfam was not.
With this put-down, she achieved more than all the anti-BDS activists put together (not to devalue their heroic efforts). For the first time that I can remember, a glamorous personality went on to the front foot against the peddlers of anti-Israel bigotry.
The boycott industry do not seek to highlight Syria or Iran
For Oxfam’s part, it dug itself further and further into its ridiculous hole. Its mantra that Israeli “settlements” such as Ma’ale Adumim – the city to which Mishor Adumim belongs — are illegal under international law is simply false.
The usual claim that they contravene the Geneva Convention egregiously misrepresents the Geneva Convention. Jews have been legally entitled to live in Judea and Samaria, furthermore, ever since the Mandate treaty of 1922 gave them the right to “close settlement” of all that land.
Next, Oxfam claimed that firms in the “settlements”, such as SodaStream, deepen Palestinians’ poverty and deny their rights. But SodaStream’s Arab workers disagree, pointing out that the company provides them with well-paid work.
Oxfam’s most damaging own goal, however, was to open people’s eyes to its real agenda. People who naively believed Oxfam was all about feeding the poor now realised it promotes a Palestine state and makes (false) claims about the status of the land.
It has even been accused of funding the BDS movement, which it denies – but only by maintaining that funds it gives to groups promoting BDS aren’t used for BDS. Yeah, right.
The problem, though, is not just Oxfam. It is the giant multinational industry of NGOs, funded by millions of euros from European governments, which obsessively promote lies, hatred and incitement against Israel.
They do not seek to boycott Turkey over its occupation of northern Cyprus, nor Morocco over its occupation of western Sahara. They do not seek to delegitimise Syria or Iran or China. Instead, they single out Israel, the lone oasis of human rights in the Middle East, for distortion and demonisation.
In the acres of space devoted to the SodaStream row, the media mostly treated Oxfam’s position as perfectly reasonable.
A couple of weeks ago, meanwhile, an utterly chilling march against President Hollande took place in Paris, in which mainly white protesters not only performed the pro-Nazi quenelle gesture but chanted “Jews go home” and “Jew, France is not your country”.
Do you know why you missed British coverage of this? There wasn’t any. The media wanted to kick SodaStream instead. As Europe teeters on the brink of another cultural catastrophe, it is a legal Jewish city which is the focus of attention as a crime against humanity.
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