Leading UK photographer Rankin had harsh words Thursday for both Scarlett Johansson and the “zealots” in the “US Jewish lobby,” who he said control the entertainment business.
In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with London’s The Independent, John Rankin Waddell heavily criticized Johansson’s role as spokeswoman for Israeli company SodaStream, and implied she couldn’t leave the deal because of the powerful influence of extremist Jews in Hollywood.
Rankin, who has worked with Johansson on several occasions, said that he had a “very negative view on SodaStream” and opined that the star hadn’t backed out of her contract as spokeswoman “because, in America the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry, what they could do to her career.”
The “main thing in all this for me,” he said, is “that kind of extreme Judaism.” The “extreme belief” that Palestine is the Jewish homeland and “those people are worthless to them” is “very powerful in America,” he added.
“They will blacklist you… it’s worse than McCarthyism. You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it,” Rankin said.
In the wake of the SodaStream scandal, Johansson stepped down from her long-time relationship with humanitarian group Oxfam, with which she said she had a “fundamental difference of opinion” regarding the issue. Rankin has also worked with Oxfam.
“I asked, actually, Oxfam if I could go to Palestine because I’m interested in what happens in Palestine. I’m fascinated from a humanitarian perspective, I’m interested in why two religions can’t find some common ground,” Rankin said of his connection with the group.
Describing himself as “a massive fan” of the organization, the photographer said that “I would be an ambassador for Oxfam if I didn’t drive a Range Rover. I’m a big supporter and [sic] what they do.”
Rankin is considered one of the top portrait and commercial photographers in the United Kingdom and has worked with a who’s who of actors, musicians and major corporations.
In January Johansson signed on as the first global brand ambassador for at-home soda maker SodaStream and starred in a Super Bowl ad for the company, which maintains a large factory in Ma’ale Adumim, a large Jerusalem-area settlement just across the Green Line. Shortly thereafter, she announced that she was ending her relationship with Oxfam, after the group criticized her decision.
SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists and many in the BDS movement, a global campaign that urges its supporters to withhold patronage of Israeli-made goods and services.
The company maintains that it is pro-coexistence and notes that it employs hundreds of Palestinians in its Ma’ale Adumim factory, who could lose their jobs of a boycott went into effect.
In response to the criticism, Johansson said in a statement that she was a “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.