Scarlett Johansson chooses Israel’s SodaStream over Oxfam

A statement released by Johansson’s spokesman said the actress has “a fundamental difference of opinion” with Oxfam International

Mustapha Ajbaili

Published: Updated:

Scarlett Johansson stepped down on Thursday as an Oxfam Global Ambassador after coming under fire for endorsing Israel’s SodaStream, which is facing an international boycott campaign for operating a factory in the occupied Palestinian lands.

Johansson issued a statement citing differences with the international humanitarian organization over the boycott.

“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the statement said. “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.”

Oxfam immediately followed with its own statement accepting Johansson’s decision to resign after eight years as a Global Ambassador.

“While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador,” the statement obtained by Al Arabiya News said.

“Oxfam believes that businesses such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements, further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

Oxfam said it opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

As soon as Oxfam became aware of her association with SodaStream, it opened talks with her to explain the humanitarian group’s position on Israeli settlements, a source in Oxfam told Al Arabiya News.

After considerable time in conversation and exchanges Johansson issued a statement indicating that she wished to retain her roles with both SodaStream and Oxfam, Al Arabiya News has learned.

The actress said she was “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

But when she recognized that the two roles are incompatible, she issued her second statement to step down from the Oxfam role, and Oxfam immediately followed with a statement to accept her resignation.

Johansson has worked with Oxfam since 2005 and in 2007 became a Global Ambassador, helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty.

SodaStream launched its biggest ever marketing campaign featuring “The Avengers” and “Her” actress earlier this month. Johansson is set to appear in an ad for the soda maker during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

The Israeli soda maker reported this month that it had failed meet profit targets, citing challenges of the “U.S. holiday selling season and higher product costs,” according to Market Watch.

“We failed to deliver our profit targets and are disappointed in our fourth quarter performance,” said Chief Executive Daniel Birnbaum. “We are moving quickly to implement the necessary measures to restore margins to historical levels in the coming year,” he added.

The company has received harsh criticism internationally for participating in what many see as the ongoing oppression of Palestinians.

Fervent opponents of SodaStream twisted the company’s ad tagline “Set the bubbles free” to promote their cause, saying “Set the bubbles free! Palestinians can wait.”

While Sodastream’s Mishor Edomim factory in only one of 20 the company has worldwide, it has sparked the most controversy due to its West Bank address.

Protesters maintain the land belongs to Palestinians and that SodaStream is hindering the peace process by operating there. Adversaries of the factory also claim the company is benefitting from occupied Palestinian workers, which is illegal under international law.

Palestinians work at a SodaStream factory