Roger Waters rebukes Scarlett Johansson for SodaStream ties

Pro-BDS musician slams actress for representing firm with West Bank factory, questions Neil Young’s decision to perform in Israel

Roger Waters. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)
Roger Waters. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, one of the more prominent celebrity faces of the boycott Israel movement, says he has contacted Scarlett Johansson “a couple of times” over the A-list actress’s decision to represent an Israeli company that operates in a West Bank settlement.

Last week Johansson announced that she was ending her relationship with the humanitarian organization Oxfam, after the group criticized her decision to sign on as the first global brand ambassador for at-home soda maker SodaStream and star in a Super Bowl ad for the company, which maintains a large factory in Ma’ale Adumim.

In a post to his Facebook page on Saturday, Waters also wrote that he had contacted Neil Young, who is slated to perform in Israel in July.

“In the past days I have written privately to Neil Young (once) and to Scarlett Johanson (a couple of times). Those letters will remain private,” he said. “Sadly, I have received no reply from either. And so I write this note on my Facebook page somewhat in bewilderment. Neil? I shall ponder all of this long and hard. We don’t really know each other, but, you were always one of my heroes, I am confused.”

Waters then went on to evoke a meeting with Johansson, “a year or so ago” at a Cream reunion concert in New York. “She was then, as I recall, fiercely anti Neocon, passionately disgusted by Blackwater (Dick Cheney’s private army in Iraq), you could have been forgiven for thinking that here was a young woman of strength and integrity who believed in truth, human rights, and the law and love. I confess I was somewhat smitten,” he said. “There’s no fool like an old fool.”

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, have employed the term “blood bubbles” when referring to the company.

In response to the criticism, Johansson said in a statement last week that she was a “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

Scarlett Johansson in SodaStream's Super Bowl ad (screen capture: YouTube)
Scarlett Johansson in SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad (screen capture: YouTube)

“SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine,” she continued, “supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day.”

In his post on Saturday, Waters predicted that Johansson would come to regret her decision to favor the Israeli company over Oxfam.

“A few years down the line, Scarlett’s choice of Soda Stream [sic] over Oxfam is such an act of intellectual, political, and civil about face, that we, all those of us who care about the downtrodden, the oppressed, the occupied, the second class, will find it hard to rationalize,” he said.

Then, after alleging a host of human rights abuses suffered by the Palestinian workers of SodaStream, he concluded: “Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think Soda Stream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention.”

In December, having previously defended Waters from accusations of anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said it reluctantly acknowledged that “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” have “seeped into the totality” of the former Pink Floyd frontman’s views.

The ADL was responding to comments Water made in an interview Saturday with Counterpunch magazine comparing Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to Nazi Germany.

“Judging by his remarks, Roger Waters has absorbed classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and these have now seeped into the totality of his views,” Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the ADL), told The Times of Israel. “His comments about Jews and Israel have gotten progressively worse over time. It started with anti-Israel invective, and has now morphed into conspiratorial anti-Semitism.” Added Foxman: “How sad that a creative genius could become so perverted by his own narrow-minded bigotry.”

In the interview, Waters remarked, regarding the Palestinians, that the “parallels with what went on in the ’30s in Germany are so crushingly obvious. “There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946,” Waters said. “So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian people being murdered.”

Waters came under fire in July for using a pig-shaped balloon with Jewish symbols, including a Star of David, at his concerts.

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