Photographer Rankin says Scarlett Johansson submitted to 'powerful Jewish zealots'

British photographer Rankin has launched a blistering attack on what he called "powerful Jewish zealots" in the United States and blamed "extreme Judaism" for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

In an interview with the Independent, the portrait and fashion photographer criticised actress Scarlett Johansson for leaving her ambassadorial role with Oxfam over a row regarding Israeli West Bank settlements.

Rankin, who has previously photographed Ms Johansson, said he had asked Oxfam if he could travel to the Palestinian territories.

But he claimed he had been told by industry figures that promoting Palestinian issues would have a negative impact on his career.

He told the newspaper the reason Ms Johansson had stood by drinks company SodaStream and its West Bank factory was "because in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry… What they could do to her career.

"The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism. That extreme belief that this is their homeland and those people are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. It’s worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it.

“People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list. And I’m not political. I’m not anti-American. I’m not religious. I don’t even believe in God. I’m just about human beings.”

The Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism in Britain, said it had written to the Independent about the article.

CST communications director Mark Gardner said: “Rankin speaks as 'a humanitarian', so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory.

"He has, inadvertently, taken a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that typifies much of today’s antisemitism.”

Rankin, whose real name is John Rankin Waddell, has photographed hundreds of leading figures, including the Queen, Tony Blair and Kate Moss.

Last updated: 3:24pm, February 13 2014