Key facets of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been thrust back into a wider public limelight, due to the news that actress Scarlett Johansson has left her role as an Oxfam ambassador
. The split comes after criticism over her decision to promote Sodastream, the drinks company which operates out of a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam opposes all trade with groups based in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, creating a confict which has caused a serious rift between the humanitarian group and its celebrity supporter.
"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," said a statement this week. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."
has written in the Guardian
that Johansson's involvement with Sodastream brings much-needed scrutiny to illegal settlement activity and wider Western support for Israel. Once again we see that his is an issue that is not going to go away any time soon.
These are Verso's key books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, from explanations to considered outcomes – what others should we include?
Eugene Brennan wrote a review of Alain Badiou
, Eric Hazan
and Ivan Segré
's Reflections on Anti-Semitism
. In their work, the three authors highlight a current custom of French political discourse, which silences any criticism of France's racist and Islamophobic policies by branding it as anti-semitic. Similarly criticism of Israel becomes dangerously but conveniently equated to anti-semitism, a practice upholded by France's most prominent Zionist pundit philosophers, Alain Finkielkraut and Bernard Henri-Lévy. These attacks predominantly affect France's Arab population by justifying discriminatory measures against them, in addition to their demonization by many feminist and gay liberation groups. Brennan writes:
While these complex variants of anti-Semitism persist in fragmented forms, the authors denounce the prevalent thesis which claims that there has been a ‘surge of anti-semitism’ since the early years of the War on Terror. This is not a description of an actual situation but an ideological smokescreen for stigmatising one portion of the population, conveniently one of the most disadvantaged: black and Arab youth.
In 2006, Shlomo Sand's The Invention of the Jewish People
stirred up controversy over its claim that most modern day Jews do not share an "unbroken genealogy," and are the descendants of Khazar converts to Judaism who originated from the north Caucasus region.
But a recent study published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature
challenges the Khazar hypothesis put forward by Sand and other historians. The study claims that approximately 40 percent of Ashkenazi Jewish maternal ancestry can be traced to Europe, rather than the Middle East or the Caucasus.