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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Oxfam backs Scarlett Johansson, despite actress’ endorsement of Israeli settlements

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Scarlett Johansson (Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia)

International charity Oxfam is standing by its “Global Ambassador” Scarlett Johansson, at least for now, despite the fact that the Hollywood actress has come out in full support of Israeli settlements and profiteering in the occupied West Bank.

Johansson has faced strong criticism and media scrutiny for a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli firm that operates in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.

In a statement yesterday, Johansson defended the deal and praised Israeli settlements.

“We have been engaged in dialogue with Scarlett Johansson and she has now expressed her position in a statement, including stressing her pride in her past work with Oxfam,” Oxfam spokesperson Kate Pattison told The Electronic Intifada in an email this morning.

“Oxfam is now considering the implications [of] her new statement and what it means for Ms Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador,” Pattison added.

Laundering settlements

In a statement to The Huffington Post yesterday, Johansson attempted launder the SodaStream deal as something beneficial for “peace”:

“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” the actress said. “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors 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.”

Maaleh Adumim is an Israeli colony built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law.

Choosing celebrity over principle

Johansson’s clear endorsement of Israeli colonization and regurgitation of SodaStream propaganda is at sharp odds with Oxfam’s own policy.

In a statement on 23 January, Oxfam said it had informed the actress that “Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”

Johansson’s statement indicates that the “dialogue” Oxfam has been hiding behind has failed to impress on the actress that profiting from Israeli crimes is totally incompatible with a role promoting human rights and development.

But at least for now, Oxfam has chosen to back celebrity over principle by continuing to stand behind Johansson.

In doing so, it has taken a clear position against Palestinians and their rights and chosen complicity with Israeli occupation and colonization.

Update

In light of Oxfam’s comments to The Electronic Intifada and Johansson’s statement, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Adalah-NY and Jewish Voice for Peace today expressed outrage at Johansson’s endorsement of settlements and Oxfam’s failure to act on it.

“We demand Oxfam respond immediately and drop her as their Global Ambassador in accordance with their own stated position that settlements are a major barrier to peace and contributor to poverty,” said the US Campaign’s Ramah Kudaimi.

Comments

how bad is her acting career that she'd prefer getting paid by an occupation profiteering soda company over standing with international law and human decency? I am confident Oxfam will not stand the shame of being associated with such odious, fake beauty

All my hopes and believes in Oxfam is lost now.

Yes, because even if Oxfam retreats from its present position, to protect its reputation,
they will lose an enormous amount of support from those who support it.

Is she so desperate as to profit from homeless and helpless people of Palestine. She must be banned from Oxfam and is not an ideal ambassador on Human rights. Oxfam should be ashamed of itself along with this desperate actress.

Oxfam is like the uncle at the end of Annie Hall. Woody Allen says my uncle thinks he's a chicken, but none of us want to tell him he isn't bcz we all need the eggs. Oxfam needs the eggs. OY!

Part of me is (naively) surprised at Johansson's statement. Wow! She signed for those millions from SodaStream in full knowledge of the facts (which she now handily distorts). Does anyone know how many millions she is being paid, exactly?

I have discontinued my monthly contribution to Oxfam Canada that I have been making for 30 years with e-mail stating this

" To: Oxfam Canada

Dear Sir / Madam

I have been making a monthly contribution of 12 dollars for over 30 years.

I would like to discontinue it due to CONSISTENT luke warm support for the
Palestinians by Oxfam.

The most recent despicable action by Oxfam is to back Scarlett Johansson"

Signed with my name and provided bank details.

Well done. If more people did this, Oxfam would get the picture. I am so surprised at Oxfam's attitude, even more than I am at Johansson's attitude. I used to like her a lot, similarly Oxfam - well, no more. Pity.

It's pretty clear that Johansson's work for Oxfam is not done through any principle, which isn't much of a surprise.

Scarlett J has exposed a previously inconceivable gullability. It's called 'drop all common sense' when money is involved. She may not realize it, but she has disgraced herself in the eyes of many good people.

I will cross OXFAM off my list of charity shops that i frequent..

Scarlet is complicit to warcrimes!
And by supporting her, or backing her up, OxFam is also complicit in warcrimes, and should be excluded from any aid, subsidy and or will!

Settlements are declared warcrime by and through international law, and the ICC has ruled that settlements are illegal!

"Oxfam is now considering the implications[of] her new statement and what it means for Ms Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador..."

How is that "backing" her? Sounds more like they're giving her one last chance to change her mind before they dump her.

I agree that Oxfam has not yet spoken its last word. However it is too late for Johansson to stay on as their ambassador - the whole world now knows what is on her mind ( = political pornography)

I agree with Dave. Oxfam does not back Johansson. From the BDS point of view this whole case can have two good outcomes:

1) Scarlett Johansson ends her contract with Sodastream.
2) Oxfam drops Johansson as ambassador.

Of these two outcomes, number 1 is definitely preferable and I think that Oxfam is, or at least was, trying to convince Johansson to end her cooperation with Sodastream.

So please give Oxfam a little time before you judge the organization. If Johansson refuses to end her involvement with Sodastream Oxfam should of course dismiss her as their ambassador.

Hope you're right, "calm down everybody". We'll see what happens . . .
Oxfam is such a great place to pick up unusual gifts and I'd hate to see them suffer if they don't dump her. Because that means the recipients of their good works suffer to. But a big problem is that Israel slings the "anti-Semite" tag at anyone who criticises their occupation, and people are scared of being labelled with that odious term. (Forget the nukes, armoured tanks, helicopter gunships etc - calling someone an anti-Semite is Israel's greatest weapon - and they use it a lot . . .)

Yes Dave, using the term anti-semite has been a very effective weapon and it's actually intimidation that's intended by those who use it so let's refuse to be intimidated! When that's been slung at me I always say : correction, anti-zionist and proceed to explain why.
All people from that region of the world are semite peoples whether they be Muslim, Jewish or Christian.
However the vast majority of the inhabitants of the state of Israel are not semites at all but Europeans descended from a people whose origins can be traced to the Caucases and who converted to Judaism for ecomic reasons. They have no connection whatsoever with the twelve tribes of Israel from whom they claim to be descended. There is no such thing as a Jewish race either. Jewish describes those who adhere to the Jewish religion and live by its laws, which again the vast majority of Israelis do not.

You are right Tess - I am constantly amazed that settlers, on an almost daily basis, break one of the mitzvah they have to learn and recite at the ceremony at age 13 or so - one of the "thou shalt nots" is one forbidding the destruction of fruit bearing trees "even during a siege" - it is mitzvot number 607, I think, or thereabouts. So much for obeying their religious precepts!

Greetings, Israel continues to commit unlawful punishment and crimes against Humanity upon the Palestinian Peoples.

It matters not, to me, what religion law breakers profess to follow; oppression, apartheid, occupation, theft of land, destruction of property, denial of Human Rights, murder, all of these are criminal acts deserving International sanction and punishment.

The United States of America is obviously not using its power to resolve this decade’s long criminal occupation, instead, choosing to support Israel and this criminal enterprise.

Thus the U.S.A. is also criminally culpable; AS ARE Nations such as my own, Australia, cravenly following the U.S.\Israeli cowardly unethical directive, o for a Government that speaks for us people.

Religion is irrelevant; these criminal acts originate in the decisions and actions of the Israeli and American Governments.

World opinion is near unanimous on this point; Israel and the U.S.A. is criminally culpable in the occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Peoples from the land which is their birthright. The Palestinian Peoples are an integral part of the great Diaspora of “Semites”; they have a claim to the land that none of the incoming immigrants can match.

I call upon members of the United Nations Security Council together with The General Assembly, to re-affirm the many past resolutions condemning Israel, and to institute lawful effective procedures, by force if necessary, to remove all settlers from land internationally recognised as the State of Palestine.

Such action would help restore the U.N.’s ethical and moral reason to exist, and remind all members to read again their responsibilities to the Founding Charter. The Palestinian question is deserving of resolution, not just lip-service.

Further, that the United Nations creates a peace keeping force to stay with Palestine until Palestine is peacefully established,
regards. THOMAS W. ADAMS.