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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Signs of disarray at Oxfam over “ambassador of oppression” Scarlett Johansson

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Screenshot of the statement tweeted and deleted by Oxfam GB.

Yesterday, the grandson of an Oxfam founder called on the charity to dissociate itself from “ambassador of oppression” Scarlett Johansson, over the Hollywood actress’ endorsement deal with Israeli-settlement firm SodaStream.

On 24 January, Johansson responded to criticism of the deal by reaffirming her backing of SodaStream and putting a wholly positive spin on Israel’s illegal land theft and colonization in the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, the negative publicity for Johansson and Oxfam continues to mount with growing, global media interest.

Oxfam tweets and deletes statement

Yet despite the growing calls on Oxfam to dump Johansson – who also serves as one of its “global ambassadors” – the charity shows only signs of disarray.

This morning, for instance, the official Twitter account of Oxfam GB tweeted this statement – and then a short time later deleted it:

For those asking about Scarlett Johansson, rest assured that we are taking this situation extremely seriously. Following Scarlett’s statement over the weekend, we’ve been talking to her and we’re currently considering what this means in terms of her role as an ambassador for Oxfam International. However, as is the nature of such situations, they do take some time to resolve, but please be assured that we’re working on this right now and will be in a position to make a fuller statement very soon.

It’s baffling what could be taking so long for Oxfam to “resolve” – and who is ordering that tweets be deleted?

After all, Johansson has made her position crystal clear: she’s on the side of SodaStream, Israeli occupation and settlements and, of course, the millions of dollars fattening her bank account.

I can only conclude that the debate is no longer between Oxfam and Johansson but within Oxfam itself: between those staffers, on the one hand, determined to throw Palestinian rights and international law under the bus and stick with a discredited celebrity at any cost, and those, on the other, who still think the charity ought to demonstrate minimal adherence to principle.

Today, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation issued a new action alert asking people to contact Oxfam and to sign a petition to be delivered to Johansson, with the message that “shilling for occupation and human rights abuses is unacceptable!”

Comments

I wonder if there are legal implications or a contract that make it difficult to drop an "ambassador" or at least prevent Oxfam from saying certain things until they have officially terminated the contract. In which case, obvi, they should still just get on with it.

Well, Oxfam did drop a celebrity in the past over supporting settlements.

Stick to the principles that give you credibility and which don't directly or indirectly harm your reputation. Or use a celebrity whose morality and dignity is superseded by monetary interest in order to make more dirty money for yourselves. What kind of message is sent out when a prospective 'representative' for Oxfam is endorsing an organisation that is partly responsible for irreconcilability between Israel and Palestine? Money or Dignity? Celebrity or Probity? Greed or Solicitude?

Oxfam's current action:

"Tell PepsiCo and Associated British Food to make sure their sugar doesn't lead to land grabs."

"And it’s working Coca-Cola has announced it will be the first of the ‘Big 3’ to agree to do more to respect communities’ land rights throughout their supply chain."

Oxfam requests to support this request:

"Dear PepsiCo and Associated British Foods,

You buy and produce huge amounts of sugar around the world, and hold significant influence over the sugar industry. But your policies are so slack, you don’t even seem to know if the sugar you use is grown on grabbed land.

Coke, the world's biggest sugar purchaser, has committed to a zero tolerance policy on land grabs throughout its supply chain. There's no reason why you can't follow their lead.

Here’s what you can do to make sure your sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs:

Know: You must know how the sugar you produce or source impacts communities’ access to land, and whether you and your suppliers are respecting land rights;

Show: You must show where the ingredients you use come from – and who grows them;

Act: You must act by committing to zero tolerance for land grabs, throughout your supply chains and your own operations. You must also work with governments and others to do the same.

As a consumer and an Oxfam supporter, I'm urging you to act now. As some of the world's biggest buyers and producers of sugar, you have a responsibility to make sure your sugar doesn’t lead to land grabs.

Sincerely,
"
http://www.behindthebrands.org...

Coke is a big Oxfam donor, and they have a terrible labor record.

The press continues to use language that is misleading to its readers. For instance:
- The Irish independent talks about Oxfam "claiming that they [the settlements] are illegal". Why use the word "claiming"? Surely it's not beyond the wit of the Independent to identify that they ARE illegal and contravene the Geneva conventions? But by using the word "claim", readers are led to believe that this is some conspiracy theory, disputed mumbo jumbo rather than legal fact.
- Similarly Metro reports of Oxfam that they are "saying they [the settlements] are illegal". This isn't some playground spat "I said that he called me fat, but he says he didn't." This is legal fact.
- Likewise the Independent in the UK uses identical language "claiming that they are illegal”.

The media needs to get its facts straight. These are not contentious facts. They are enshrined in law, and need to be reported as such. Otherwise (as is no doubt their intent), they will continue to mislead their readers about the legal rights of the Palestinians.

As for the actual topic of Johansson... Well, where can one start... Anyone on Twitter or Facebook should make their voices heard through the Thunderclap that is being arranged by CodePink for later today - check out https://www.thunderclap.it/pro....

I suspect that there are a number of Zionists among the higher-ups at Oxfam.
A word to Oxfam: carefully vet your "global ambassadors" and staff/board members in the future. If you indeed have a future.