Today marks one of the sports worlds most revered days: Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you watch the game for the sports, the commercials, or the half-time show (no judgement here!), the Super Bowl is a highly anticipated few hours of sports chaos celebrated each year.
With millions of people watching the game, companies shell out huge sums of money to sell their brand to the watchful eyes of the world. Fox, who is broadcasting the game this year, charges a mere $4 million for 30 seconds worth of ad time during the game. This year, however, the Super Bowl has inadvertently stirred up a bit of controversy when it came to one of its featured commercials.
SodaStream, a DIY home carbonation company based out of Israel, hired Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson as its global ambassador and featured her in sexy soda sipping commercial to be aired during the Super Bowl. Anti-Israel critics, including Oxfam International, immediately called for Johansson to resign her role and end her endorsement deal with the Israeli company which operates out of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement. Why? Because supposedly SodaStream and all Israeli companies are the main reason behind “Palestinian oppression”.
ScarJo stood up for Israel when she refused to bow to pressure being caused by several Israel boycott movements. She split with Oxfam after eight years of working with them, citing “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestments and sanctions movement.”
In a statement, Johansson said “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits, and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’aleh Adumim factory every working day.”
Pro-Palestinian activists have taken to cyber bulling Scarlett Johansson for her support of Israel:
When looking deeper as to whom SodaStream employs at their Ma’Aleh Adumim plant, it becomes clear that the plant not only supports Palestinian and Arab workers, but overwhelmingly favors them in relation to Israeli workers. The plant employs 500 Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 450 Arab Israelis, and only 350 Jewish Israelis. Clearly, this is an example of Palestinian and Arab oppression right?
Israeli and Palestinian workers sit side by side in the SodaStream plant, working together in a common area. A designated prayer space was established to allow for a respectful place to pray each day. Rona Martin of the Coalition of Women for Peace (who incidentally also works with Oxfam) said SodaStream uses Palestinian workers “as cheap labor” and “Palestinian land for the establishment of the [SodaStream] factory.” Let’s think about. Average daily wages earned by the Palestinian workers in Israel and settlements are more than double that of the West Bank. Unemployment rates in the West Bank are over 40 percent among 20-24 year olds and 22 percent overall. Factually, SodaStream is one of the largest employers of Palestinians. Again, SodaStream has it in for its workers, persecuting and exploiting them, right?
In terms of location, the SodaStream plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial park is not considered a hard-line settlement. If peace ever occurs with the Palestinians, Ma’ale Adumim is one of the consensus settlements that would, under land swaps, be retained by Israel.
Media outlets have swarmed the SodaStream plant, asking workers about how they feel working for a company that many in the world claim is actively taking part in apartheid. Most of the comments by workers revolve around the fact that the problem is being politically exacerbated and that working for SodaStream is enjoyable.
When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the situation, the BDS movement wants SodaStream to shut down its plant in Ma’aleh Adumim. The BDS movement wants almost 1,000 Palestinian and Arab workers to lose their jobs. Anti-Israel critics are actively creating fissures between the Israelis and Palestinians, blocking any chance of peace between the two parties.
As the Super Bowl airs tonight and the SodaStream commercial finally makes it official debut, only one thing should be going through your mind: How fast can I buy a SodaStream and show the world that I stand with Israel?