Scarlett Johansson (Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia)
The international development charity Oxfam has publicly admonished Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson over her new and highly controversial role as spokesperson for the Israeli occupation profiteering firm SodaStream.
“We are proud of our relationship with Scarlett Johansson who has worked with Oxfam since 2005 to support Oxfam’s mission to end poverty and injustice,” the charity says in a statement.
“As an Oxfam Global Ambassador, she has travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty, and she has helped to raise critical funds for life-saving and poverty-fighting work around the world. We deeply value her support.”
But, the statement, adds, “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.”
“We have made our concerns known to Ms Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.”
In the UK, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is urging people to contact Oxfam to call for Johansson “to immediately end her contract with Sodastream or to cut ties with her following her signing up with Sodastream.”
It is still unclear whether Oxfam will eventually drop Johansson – following a 2009 precedent with Hollywood actress Kristin Davis – or whether the charity will convince Johansson to drop her lucrative contract with SodaStream.
Clearly it would be preferable if Johansson would learn the lesson and walk away from SodaStream. Either way, it is now apparent that no matter how much money you get, doing business with firms that exploit Palestinian workers and profit from Israeli crimes carries, at least, a mounting reputational cost.