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Friday, 31 January 2014

Controversy Leads Scarlett Johansson to Step Down as Oxfam Ambassador

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Scarlett Johansson shows off SodaStream. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
After a heated controversy erupted across social media, Scarlett Johansson has traded her position as Oxfamambassador to be a SodaStream ambassador instead.
The 29-year-old actress came under fire from the humanitarian group after news broke that she had partnered with the make-your-own-soda-at-home company. But why does Oxfam care?
In one word: politics. SodaStream happens to be an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank (in a territory that Israel has occupied since 1967), but Oxfam is strongly against any trade from Israeli settlements, arguing that they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.

Activists quickly took to Twitter to comment on Johansson's new role:
View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

For its part, Oxfam was careful to tow the line between making its position clear and attacking the international star. On Jan. 22, the charity posted a statement on its webpage dedicated to Johansson. It explained that it "respects the independence of our ambassadors,” but it also “believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support." That would include SodaStream.
Because of this, the statement concluded, “We have made our concerns known to Ms. Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.” That said, the charity did not (officially) ask her to step down.
Johansson responded with a statement of her own, which, in a nutshell, tried to reconcile the opposing points of view by arguing that her ambassadorship for SodaStream does not mean she's a supporter of Israel, per se, but rather, "a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine." In her view, the company's factory in Maale Adumim does exactly that. She also threw in a mention of the brand's positive environmental impact for good measure (and it's hard to argue with that).
All that said, however, Oxfam wasn't swayed and on Wednesday, the blonde beauty decided to throw in the towel.
"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," the statement explained. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam."
The charity quickly declared that it "accepted" her decision.
While this disagreement has no doubt been somewhat of a fiasco for the "Don Jon" star, something tells us she'll sleep (and drink) easier now that it's behind her.

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