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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam

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Scarlett Johansson in a screenshot from an Oxfam fundraising video.

On Wednesday evening, Scarlett Johansson announced she was ending her role as “Global Ambassador” for the charity Oxfam, after facing mounting criticism over her lucrative endorsement deal with SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a factory in an illegal colony in the occupied West Bank.

A statement released by Johansson’s spokesperson said the 29-year-old Hollywood actress “has ‘a fundamental difference of opinion’ with Oxfam International because the humanitarian group opposes all trade from Israeli settlements, saying they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights,” the Associated Press reported.

“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the statement added. “She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

“Incompatible”

Oxfam, has not, in fact, endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), although it opposes trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a position it reiterated in a 30 January statement accepting Johansson’s resignation.

“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 charity says.

“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,” the statement adds. “Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”

“New face of Israeli apartheid”

Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson with the Palestinian BDS Boycott National Committee, a coalition of Palestinian civil society organizations that had called on Oxfam to dump Johansson, said

“Scarlett Johansson has abandoned her reputation as a progressive celebrity in exchange for the check that accompanies becoming the new face of Israeli apartheid. Just like the few artists who played Sun City during South African apartheid, Johansson will be remembered for having stood on the wrong side of history.” 

Ziadah adds: “This controversy has shined a light on the fact that SodaStream is at the heart of Israel’s system of occupation, colonization and apartheid. Retailers that stock SodaStream can no longer claim they are unaware of the role the company plays in Israeli violations of international law and consumers across the world will now see through SodaStream’s claims to be an ethical company.” 

Ziadah also echoed widespread criticism, including by Oxfam’s own Palestinian staff, about the charity’s mishandling of the affair: “Oxfam’s statement today that Johansson’s support of SodaStream was incompatible with her role as an Oxfam ambassador is very welcome, but the great length of time that it took for Oxfam’s leadership to reach this conclusion has disappointed many Palestinians, people of conscience across the world and Oxfam staff and supporters.” 

Campaigns key

Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK, said that by “choosing to represent a company that operates in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land,” Johansson had “already suffered major reputational damage.”

Colborne thanked activists and supporters “who made it clear to Oxfam that they needed to break from Scarlett Johansson or risk facing a hemorrhaging of support in the UK and internationally.”

Nancy Kricorian of the campaigning group CODEPINK Women for Peace welcomed the news that Oxfam and Scarlett Johansson “have parted ways,” but suggested the controversy would not be over for the Hollywood star: “We look forward to educational leafleting opportunities at Ms. Johansson’s public events.”

Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, observes that the break-up between Johansson and Oxfam over SodaStream “proves that one can no longer claim to be a humanitarian while being associated in any way with the settlement enterprise.”

“That the BDS movement was able to force this decision in a matter of weeks is proof of the growing power of BDS worldwide,” she adds.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation issued a release stating that Johansson’s departure from Oxfam would “strengthen” the global movement for Palestinian rights.

Johansson’s departure follows weeks of protest from Palestinians and solidarity groups, and near silence from Oxfam’s bitterly divided management.

The Electronic Intifada’s extensive reporting on this story can be found here.

Comments

All the charities and good-deeds in the world are still not able to clear Elton John's shameful record of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa and singing at the Sun City Festival during the era of Apartheid. Scarlett Johansson made her pick yesterday, and years from now, the world will still remember that she sided with the oppressors against the oppressed!

Who cares about some silly celebrity. They are nothing but diversion from any good people do in activism. Western NGOs are particularly obsessed about these moronic celebrities. Look how much time Oxfam actually took to come to a non decision in this case.

These celebrities are like the court jesters. Nobody gives a damn about this lady in a couple of decades.

Bull! It would have been a substantial blow to Israel's image if this starlet had gone the other way. Thousands of impressionable people, young women mostly, would have given pause to their thoughtless view of "the problem". It would have been of greater value than Roger Waters' testimony because it would have reached people who weren't predisposed to view Israel's role negatively. Israel won this one.

I don't see how playing a concert for anybody is anything like saying you support those who oppress Palestinians.

That concert was staged by the apartheid government during apartheid rule. Playing on such a stage is as good as an endorsement in the public eye - no matter what his intentions might have been. In the same way choosing to abandon a charitable NGO for a bigger cheque from an "oppresive regime" can similarly be interpreted as endorsement for said regime. Perspective is everything.

So she says: "... opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement."

That way she frames the position of Oxfam into an Israel/Palestine one (of course Oxfam has no specific position on Israel). It also relieves her of having to think about the actual wrongs of SodaStream's presence in occupied territory. She suggests she has an issue with the "BDS movement", which is only just one of the messengers.

We can also remember this case for Oxfam taking 29 - 11 = 18 days without decision. This says how we can trust Oxfam, in a way.

Conclusion: money talks

wrong - BDS power is what forced Sodastream to need to spend all that money on the hottest hottie of the moment. and after BDS forced ms hottie to talk, she said she supports ethnic cleansing. now it is going to cost them a LOT more to sell their settlement product.

Brave stand by a very beautiful woman

She took a strong, principled stand for apartheid. Good for her

More like stupid stand, based on ignorance and propaganda. She has demonstrated how little OXFAM ever meant to her.

Oxfam's statement:
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.

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.

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 is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Famous actress + Global Charity + Clever&Persistent Activists = Public Attention to Israel's Illegal Occupation
(BDS is working.)

I just put the SodaStream in the trash........ Bye..... buy..!!

Great for the landfill . . .

Yes, let's admonish and shame a celebrity for doing nothing different than Palestinian leadership has done: choose a paycheck over the good of the Palestinian people. Grow up people. This article, and its content is asinine.

she gets paid to do movies, NOT to support an ethnic cleansing. that part is her personal choice. to see the face of the denial of Right Of Return for decades, look at this: http://www.aljazeera.com/indep...

Yes, lets not admonish one person for their hypocrisy, because other people are hypocrites too. In fact, while we're at it, lets not punish burglars because murderers are so much worse!

The BDS campaign is counter-productive, and works to further divide people. Basically, it appears to target all those who are trying to normalize relations and build bridges, something many of us in the pro-peace camp are trying to do. I commend her for disconnecting from an organization which further perpetuates an "us vs. them" mentality.

So you are saying you support Illegal Israeli Occupation? You would allow your neighbors to park in your driveway then to start sleeping in your bed and then maybe start snacking on that box of your favorite cookies you bought just for yourself just so that you can maintain a peaceful relationship with them? Go on. Who would want you on their side?

Nice try, but this has nothing to do with BDS: "Oxfam, has not, in fact, endorsed boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), although it opposes trade with Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank" Now, if you dont understand this difference, then you have got some homework to do.

Read the article. And Oxfam has endorsed boycotting products from the disputed territories. It comes down to this: Palestinians want to work there. They don't have a problem with it. Why do you?

What part of "illegal settlements" do you not understand?

"Disputed"? What are you smoking? These are illegal settlements on stolen land. Deal with it. Then who put you as a spokesman for Palestinians?

Haha, what a joke you are ! Pure hasbara ! Someone who claims to be in the "pro-peace camp" and call the Occupied Territories for 'disputed' has absolutely no credit as far as I'm concerned. And your stick about the "us vs them mentality", why don't you go preach to the Jewish supremacists in the settlements about that.
By the way, 'pro-peace' is one of the keywords in the Hasbara Manual for Beginners. 'Justice' isn't even mentioned....

Does she mean the illegal settlements on Palestinian land?

I hope there will be more reporting on the steps (if any) which the Oxfam federation is going to take against their "internal pro-Israel lobby", Oxfam America

Yes, please, what will Oxfam do about this? Kudos to Electronic Intifada for the best reporting on it. Oxfam got smeared by this, and apparently because of Oxfam America. Why does Oxfam need the America division if it is supporting Sodastream and the occupation?

What I really just love is how 8 years of amazing work with Oxfam and doing great things for the world you are all still saying how terrible she is for signing with soda stream. Her reason for signing with them was completely separate from any political opinions. She wanted to support them for environmental reasons and shall we not forget the environment needs some saving as well. Honestly, I did not know that soda stream operated in land that was not rightfully theres and I am glad I know that now but the issue here is soda stream for doing unjust things to make money. Scarlett Johansson had an opportunity to promote a product that encourages the minimalist use of bottles and cans and she took it perhaps not knowing about the malpractice. I know it is tempting to blame and hate a single actress for choosing money over human rights but let's be real no sane person would take money while fully knowing the extent to how badly people were treated. Look at the full picture. Not everyone is as politically and globally savvy as you all and knows every detail of every potential conflict. Be nice.

Johansson knows EXACTLY what is going on, not only in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, but also in the racist immigration policy of Israel - she knows that people like her can move to the West Bank into stolen land. She chose to represent Sodastream to promote apartheid, just as her statement, not for money.

So sweet of Johansson to sell cavities and diabetes to the western world. Oh, wait - she could have done that for about a thousand other companies!!! Instead of being nice, she decide to do it for the face of apartheid and ethnic cleansing!! I'll only be as nice as she is. :-)

No sane people working on Wall Street?

So what you are suggesting is to move out the factory from the west bank that employs many Palestinians for equal pay? I am sure they are super excited about loosing their jobs because of this campaign that has nothing to with peace between two people. Ask BDS if they would stop their campaign if there was peace between Gaza/West Bank and Israel? Their answer might surprise you...

yes, Palestinians are calling for exactly that. they want their homes back. imagine that. FYI, there is plenty of "peace" already. the abused and abuser are in this abusive relationship right now that you see as "peace". but the Palestinians are asking for our help. get it?

So becaue sodastream employs Palestinians somehow Palestinians are suppose to overlook the destruction of their homes, people and ancient livelihood in exchange for a job of equal pay?

Oxfam slammed by anti-racist campaigners for selling golliwog dolls on their website. A spokeswoman for campaign group Show Racism the Red Card Scotland said: Golliwogs aren’t really appropriate toys to be on sale because of the fact they are based on racial stereotyping. We have spoken with Oxfam and have recommended that the items be removed from sale.”

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/n...

money talks but it don't sing and dance and it don't walk....scarlett, you've sold your soul for a few dollars. Well, at least you'll always be better off than people living under apartheid.

I've just donated and x amount to Oxfam, for not bowing down to fame.

People, please show them our gratitude, cause they are doing wonderful work, in this crazy world.

Please donate!

I can't believe Scarlett Johansson is doing this. She seems nice and human!

Hey, Scarlett, mind if i build my new house on your 1.4 acre property and live there claiming the land to be mine? Yes? Yes you do? Well why the heck are you supporting these illegal settlements then?

I don't believe she even cares where the SodaStream factory is: She saw the money from (yet) another advertising deal, and (again) she took it. She will say anything that SodaStream tell her to say... They are paying her... To her it will be no different to her deals with L'Oreal, Dolce & Gabanna, Moet & Chandon, Reebok, Mango etc (I've lost count of how many advert deals she has done!). It's all about money: and a moral compass won't even come into it. She's like a vaccum cleaner that sucks up money.. Any kind of money....

As for 'riposte' to Oxfam: The remarks about a 'Democratic Israel and Palestine' are both offensive and clueless. How can there be a democratic Palestine? There is officially no Palestine, it doesn't exist (that is what this whole issue is about!). Her greed is only matched by her stupidity.

I also agree about her dropping Oxfam like a hot brick: No talks, no (satisfactory) explanations. No dilemma for Johansson at all really... SodaStream pay her load of cash, Oxfam say SodaStream are on illegally occupied Palestinian lands. So it's bye bye, Oxfam... No contest. Money wins every time.

I mean, if you want to take the money from a big advert deal (again!), do so. But all this crap about doing it in the name of Israeli and Palestinian harmony (or for 'environmental reasons')? Like taking the cash from a company in an occupied territory is somehow noble and humane? Do me a favour! Does anyone even think she would even think about any of this (Israel, the Palestinians or the environment) if she wasn't getting paid?