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.
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.
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.
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.