Scarlett Johansson has defended her decision to represent SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates in the occupied West Bank.
The Hollywood starlet, who will appear in a Super Bowl ad for the controversial home beverage company, released a statement to the Huffington Post after coming under fire for speaking on behalf of the company.
“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,” Johansson stated.
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” the actress said. “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.”
The actress did not address claims that the settlement in which SodaStream’s factory is located forms part of a strategic bloc of settlements that — if completed — would make a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. Nor did she address the charge that SodaStream was guilty of worker exploitation until an Israeli workers’ rights organization got involved, or that the company had fraudulently used a “Made in Israel” label on its products.
Johansson went on to make specific mention of her position as a global ambassador for Oxfam, following that organization’s decision to distance itself from the actress. In a statement on its website, Oxfam said it “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.”
“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,” Johansson stated. “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.”
So far, Oxfam has not asked Johansson to cut her ties with SodaStream.
The actress said she trusts consumers will make their own informed decisions and do what is right for them.
“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,” she concluded.
Sigal Samuel is the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not writing for the opinion section, she’s hunting down her Indian Jewish family’s kabbalistic secret societies. Her novel “The Mystics of Mile End,” available in Canada and forthcoming in the U.S., tells the story of a dysfunctional family with a dangerous mystical obsession. Her writing has also appeared in The Daily Beast, The Rumpus, BuzzFeed, Tablet and The Walrus, among others. Contact Sigal at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @SigalSamuel.