March 5, 2014

Countering Israel Boycotts, With Glamour

WASHINGTON — Scarlett Johansson politely declined an invitation to speak to the 14,000 people gathering here Sunday for the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, as the nation’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group is known.
She has to be in Paris to collect an honorary C├ęsar film award, her publicist said, and then she is promoting two new movies, “Under the Skin” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Aipac’s members will have to settle for Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew as a Sunday headliner.
But the Hollywood actress will be at Aipac in spirit. After refusing to give up an endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company that has a factory in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Ms. Johansson has become a hero to pro-Israel activists — a living, breathing, deeply glamorous repudiation of the movement to boycott Israel.

In speeches by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials next week, Aipac plans to pound the drums about what it regards as the pernicious motives of the anti-Israel campaign, known formally as the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or B.D.S., movement.

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