The row started when Johansson signed an endorsement for SodaStream which included a pretty high-visibility (and likely high paying) Super Bowl ad.
The problem is that SodaStream, an Israeli company that markets home carbonation systems, happens have a huge plant located in Mishor Adumim, an urban settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
Under international law, Israeli development of the occupied territories is considered illegal. The conflict of interest between representing both organisations couldn’t be more obvious to Sarah Colborne, director of Oxfam, who recently said to the BBC:
“Scarlett Johansson’s decision to represent SodaStream clearly violated Oxfam’s policy of supporting human rights and justice.
“By choosing to represent a company that operates in an illegal settlement on stolen Palestinian land, she has already suffered major reputational damage. And by prioritizing SodaStream over Oxfam, she has decided to profit from occupation, rather than challenge global poverty.”
Johansson counters that the plant provides jobs to local Palestinians, as well as encouraging consumers to go green by manufacturing their own soda at home.
The actress’s decision to remain with the soda manufacturer left no other option than her having to step down from her role as an Oxfam global ambassador. The organisation actively encourages members to refrain from buying goods produced by Israel on occupied land.
Meanwhile, Daniel Birnbaum, the chief executive of SodaStream, insists to the New York Times that he would gladly move the factory from Mishor Adumim but remains out of a sense of loyalty to the over 500 Palestinians currently employed there.
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