By standing firm, Johansson and the owners of SodaStream demonstrated that even the most full-blown BDS attacks can be defeated. In its counterattack, SodaStream exposed the myths that underlie the boycotts and the broader delegitimization campaigns targeting Israel, including the fact that the 500 Palestinian Arab employees at the Ma’aleh Adumim plant (a “settlement” located on the outskirts of Jerusalem) enjoyed the same pay and health benefits as their Israeli counterparts.
In contrast to previous battles, in this case, it was the proponents and enablers of BDS that were put on the defensive, and they didn’t do well in this role. Oxfam denied that it was involved in BDS, but the facts proved the contrary. Between 2011 and 2013, the Dutch branch, known as Oxfam Novib, provided almost $500,000 (largely from government funds provided ostensibly for humanitarian aid) to one of the most radical BDS leaders, the Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP). This group also received funds from Oxfam GB (Great Britain). The discrepancy between Oxfam’s claims and the documentation of its role in BDS was highlighted by SodaStream executives and in a number of media articles.
Although CWP is technically an Israel-based NGO, almost all of its activities are focused externally in promoting boycott campaigns, particularly in Europe.
Another myth exposed in the SodaStream-Johansson showdown is the claim that BDS is “limited” to opposing the post-1967 war occupation and settlements. This myth was quoted by many journalists, who did not go beyond press statements. However, at the 2001 Durban NGO Forum, thousands of boycott advocates clearly stated that their goal is the elimination of Jewish sovereign equality, regardless of borders – in their words, “the complete international isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.” This objective hasn’t changed.
The most important lesson is that notwithstanding their financial backing and political support, BDS anti-Israel bullying and intimidation can be defeated, as demonstrated by SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson.