(JNS.org) Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson is stepping down as a global ambassador for the human rights group Oxfam International, which had criticized her for serving as pitch woman for Israeli carbonated beverage company SodaStream. Johansson’s decision comes ahead of the airing of her SodaStream commercial on Super Bowl Sunday.
“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” said a statement released Wednesday by Johansson’s spokesman. “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.”
Oxfam International took issue with Johansson’s SodaStream deal due to its opposition to “all trade from Israeli settlements.” SodaStream has long been the target of pro-Palestinian groups for operating a factory in Ma’ale Adumim, which is across the Green Line east of Jerusalem. But at the factory, SodaStream employs many Palestinian workers and has an on-site mosque.
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” Johansson said last week. “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.”
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of the Jerusalem-based watchdog group NGO Monitor, said SodaStream and Johansson “have taken a strong stand against BDS, highlighting Oxfam’s history of bias, duplicity, and immoral warfare in joining the political attacks against Israel.”
“Radical Oxfam officials have exploited their power to lobby the EU to impose economic sanctions, based on false allegations of ‘unlawful demolition of Palestinian civilian infrastructure,’” Steinberg told JNS.org. “Oxfam also campaigns on behalf of Hamas and ignores terror attacks against Israelis. This case demonstrates the need for an urgent and independent review of Oxfam's biased and immoral agenda.”
“Though we are saddened to see Oxfam International, for which Johansson was a devoted ambassador, choose to align itself with the destructive campaign of delegitimization, we are proud of her steadfast commitment to the two-state solution, and honest recognition of the true nature of the BDS Movement,” said Geri Palast, managing director of The Israel Action Network, a strategic initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
“We encourage Johansson’s colleagues in Hollywood to follow her example by standing up to this sort of intimidation and rejecting cultural boycotts of Israel, which only serve to drown out the real conversation about how to end the conflict,” Palast added.