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January 30, 2014

Scarlett Johansson, Oxfam formally sever ties over Sodastream endorsement

Lucire staff/23.18

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Above Scarlett Johansson in an unaired commercial for Sodastream.

Oxfam, which has been under pressure to sever its ties with Scarlett Johansson after she became the spokeswoman for Sodastream, confirmed that it no longer has the actress as a goodwill ambassador.
   Johansson, who has worked with Oxfam since 2005, issued an earlier statement about her departure.
   â€˜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,’ her statement read.
   Sodastream, which is part-owned by Israeli interests, has a factory in a settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam opposes goods produced by Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.
   Oxfam stated, ‘Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions.
   â€˜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.
   â€˜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.
   â€˜Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Ms 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.’
   Activists had been quick to seize on the Sodastream campaign after it became public on January 13.
   Previously, Johansson had stated, ‘Sodastream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbours working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day. As part of my efforts as an ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.’
   An advertisement for Sodastream will air during the Super Bowl in the US this Sunday, starring Johansson.
   Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Forward that he would not have located a plant in the settlement himself. He became CEO after the plant had been established in the 1990s, but said he would not close it due to his 500 Palestinian employees, who could not work at another plant on the other side of the Green Line. ‘We will not throw our employees under the bus to promote anyone’s political agenda,’ he said.
   Birnbaum also stressed that if a Palestinian state comes into being, his company would be happy to remain there and pay taxes to the new state.

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