Scarlett Johansson has received extensive criticism for her new ad campaign for SodaStream International Ltd., an Israeli company that currently operates in the West Bank.
"SodaStream’s vision is to create a world free from bottles," SodaStream's website reads. "At SodaStream, we believe it is time to rethink how you make your soda and to understand the positive environmental impact when making soda at home. We are committed to continuously improving as an earth friendly brand and offering eco-friendly products that have a positive impact on our environment. Since January 2009, we have saved the world from over 1 billion plastic bottles."
The 29-year-old actress was recently signed as the soda company's first global brand ambassador and she has already been scheduled to appear in a commercial during the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 2.
Oxfam International started criticizing Johansson, earlier this week, and released a statement on their website concerning Johansson's continuation with the company.
Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors. However 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.
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 is now considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson's role as an Oxfam global ambassador.
Johansson later addressed the criticism of Oxfam International, who she has been a global ambassador for since 2005, in a statement of her own.
While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I'd like to clear the air.
I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. 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. As part of my efforts as an Ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.
I believe in conscious consumerism and transparency and I trust that the consumer will make their own educated choice that is right for them. I stand behind the SodaStream product and am proud of the work that I have accomplished at Oxfam as an Ambassador for over 8 years. Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future.
SodaStream currently has 25 production facilities, including the one in West bank. The company claims that they employ over 500 Palestinians, and provide them equal pay and benefits as their Israeli workers. Johansson remains firm in saying that she will continue to work with both SodaStream and Oxfam International.
Image via Wikimedia Commons