It was announced Thursday January 30, that Scarlett Johansson has decided to leave Oxfam, the humanitarian group, since the controversy over her SodaStream ad and recent partnership with the company has hit mainstream. SodaStream is a company based out of the settlement of West Bank, Israel, and Johansson signed on this month with SodaStream as their ambassador. Earlier this week Johansson began receiving backlash for her new involvement with SodaStream due to Israeli’s current occupation and supposed illegal colonization of Palestine. Currently, Oxfam opposes any trade with Israeli settlements and specifically states Israel is illegally denying Palestinian citizens their rights.
Protesters and Palestinian activist began to urge Oxfam to disassociate with SodaStreams new leading lady since Oxfam’s goals are misrepresented through Johansson’s current actions. Johansson is leaving Oxfam over the controversy risen by her SodaStream ad after being in partnership with Oxfam as their ambassador for the past eight years. Johansson’s recent involvement with SodaStream has made her a target for not only activist out of Palestine, but it has also thrown her into this political issue as a causality of an expanding campaign to boycott the West Bank settlement.
What appears to be a simply ad that is promoting an eco-friendly carbonated beverage has turned the heads of many to see a larger debate at hand. According to ABC News, if Israel fails to reach a peace agreement with Palestine they could be facing international dislike, which in turn could cause further issues for Israel financially. Yair Lapid, Israeli’s finance minister expressed this week that if Israel does not reach a settlement through negotiations with Palestine they could be facing the reality of being boycotted through many European relations. Lapid urged the public to consider this carefully because in facing a European boycott their economic status could end up retreating at a high rate. Stating specifically that every Israeli citizen could end up feeling the effects come straight out of their pockets. European relations have given warning to Israel concerning economic isolation happening if they choose to move forward in construction within east Israel and West Band settlements, which is reported to be lands that were war won.
The 29-year-old actress, Johansson, walked into this debate after signing up with SodaStream as their global ambassador. The company makes at home machines that promote a healthier carbonated beverage for the general public. However, this Tel Aviv-based company’s main plant is located next to Israeli industrial park which is next to Maaleh Adumim of West Bank.
Johansson first began her work with Oxfam for many humanitarian reasons, but one spoken of with ABC News was to assist in raising funds for victims of natural disasters in Indonesia and the Philippines. This Wednesday January 29, Johansson released a statement as to why she was leaving Oxfam after the release of her SodaStream ad stating that their was a “fundamental difference” between her and Oxfam. As she stated earlier this week, Johansson believes in an economic cooperation between both Israel and Palenstine. However, Oxfam has the belief that SodaStream and other such organization operating within West Bank settlements are participating in denying rights to Palestinian communities in which they support.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, is currently said to be working on a framework agreement for Israel-Palestine relations, which is said to be released in upcoming months. However, both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have expressed hesitancy towards the agreement due to the fact they feel such proposal could derail their already stated positions and their what seems to be last chance at ending their long-lasting conflicts. As for now, it is yet to be seen what will happen in relations between Palestine and Israel, but it is confirmed that Johansson is leaving Oxfam after her SodaStream ad was released in order to further disengage from this political status.
By Sarah Widger