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Scarlett Johansson chooses SodaStream over Oxfam, citing differences on boycott

Scarlett Johansson announced Wednesday that she is stepping down as “global ambassador” of Oxfam due to the backlash against her role as the new face of SodaStream, an Israeli company that operates a large factory in a West Bank settlement, the Associated Press has reported.

“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” read the statement by her publicist quoted in AP. “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, which issued a statement last week questioning and criticizing her SodaStream deal – but without making a decision regarding her position – issued a statement Thursday that it accepted the actress’ decision to step down and is grateful for her contributions. It added that her “role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador (emphasis mine),” and reiterated its opposition to any form of trade from Israeli settlements “which are illegal under international law.” According to Oxfam, businesses like SodaStream that operate in the settlements “further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

Johansson’s statement is a bit muddled and misleading. She cites differences regarding BDS, despite the fact that Oxfam has never come out in support of it, nor has it taken specific position on the movement as a whole as far as I am aware. Rather, Oxfam is against doing business with settlements, which is equivalent to the positions of many Israelis and American Jews. For example, American Jewish columnist Peter Beinart supports a settlement boycott but is not an advocate of an academic boycott, nor a proponent of the BDS movement as a whole.

Johansson’s statement implies that she is choosing SodaStream over Oxfam because she is not an advocate of BDS. But this is an inaccurate and problematic statement, in which she seems to be trying get  off the hook under false pretenses. And because she fails to take a clear and specific stand on Israel’s nearly half-century-long military occupation and settlement project (considered illegal by the world), the message she send is that she is pro-occupation, or in the very least, that she is not anti-occupation. That’s a copout, especially considering  she has already shown through her political  involvement in Oxfam and the Democratic Party that she, as Emily Greenhouse rightly pointed out in The New Yorker,  ”wants to use her celebrity responsibly.”

Because Oxfam explicitly states that Johansson presented an “incompatibility” with their mission, it is unclear why the organization refused to take a stronger position and inform her from the get-go that she cannot continue to represent them and SodaStream at the same time. I have posed this question to their media spokesperson, and will update the post once I get a response.

UPDATE, 1:45 P.M.: Oxfam media coordinator Alun McDonald responded to my queries. He confirmed that Oxfam does not oppose trade with Israel, but rather is “strongly opposed to trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Regarding their lack of immediate action, he responded: “We made our opposition to settlements clear from the start, and since then we’ve been discussing our different positions with Ms. Johansson to try and reach an agreement on the way forward. We’ve worked with Ms. Johansson a long time and value the relationship so we had hoped to resolve this through dialogue.”

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Scarlett Johansson’s naive SodaStream defense

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  • COMMENTS

      • JG

        Hasbara nonsense. As usual.
        Anything with substance on MIFTAH? No. What a surprise

        Reply to Comment
    1. shachalnur

      Scarlett’s stance on supporting a company in occupied territories,even stating it’s good for Palestinians,and against any boycott,should be a coup for the settler movement.
      Strangely enough there is not much enthousiasm from sites like Israel National News(Arutz Sheva).
      Since the controversy started Arutz 7 is numb,no op-ed’s ,and even today just a matter of fact statement on Scarlett and Oxfam parting ways.
      I feel this Sodastream operation can not be seen separately from the current geo-political developments going on.
      Even Scarlett’s explanation for cutting ties with Oxfam is twisted,as you write in your article.
      Could it be the settler movement doesn’t trust Sodastream and Scarlett,giving the possibility this whole saga might turn into very bad publicity for the occupation?
      Most people didn’t know that Sodastream is an Israeli company,is situated on occupied land,or even that Scarlett is Jewish.
      Now everybody knows and the attention for BDS,also unknown to most people,has grown.
      If you peal off all the spin and rethoric ,what’s left is a huge amount of attention for the Israeli occupation of the West bank.
      Furthermore Scarlett’s activities into politics and opinion making started in earnest on 8th nov.2013,when she said in an interview with The Independent that porn is good for women,plugging her movie “Don Jon “(about porn addiction).
      Now we got Scarlett telling you stay focused on her Bubbles,and surprise ,surprise,in a few weeks a new movie called “Under the Skin”where Scarlett will show her Bubbles for real during the entire movie.
      For a while now we are served “sexy” Jewish(or Israeli) women asking the public”Do you want to hate/kill me ,or hump me”.
      It started with nude pictures of IDF soldiers,than Ayelet Shaked(so sexy and so nasty),than Gal Gadot,an Israeli actress with an eating disorder,landing 3 moviecontacts as Wonder Woman(sic),and now Scarlett is gonna show it all.
      Keep in mind we might be watching a continious psy-op,and it will take some time to figure out what’s the real plan ,and who is behind it.
      The fact Arutz Sheva and all settler websites are numb on this issue shows there might be more going on than meets the eye.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        I am sure you enjoy “porn”, watching women “show their bubbles for real” and fantasizing about sex. But PLEASE leave Ms. Johansson OUT OF IT! What you engage in here is a cheap sexist smear-campaign that is beneath even a creep. Get a life!

        Reply to Comment
        • shachalnur

          Ginger Eis,

          I’m aware that rule 2,or was it 3,in the Hasbara Disinfo Book is;when you have no arguments to attack the facts and opinions, start ad hominem attacks.
          What I stated above are facts,uncomfortable ones.
          If you want to have a discussion based on facts,I’ll be more than happy to do so.
          Your kind of defense/attack only makes you look stupid and impotent in the eyes of more honest people..

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            What you said, sir, is given the context in which you said it (a) sexist and (b) designed to smear and belittle. End of story. You want to discuss the wisdom of Ms. Johansson’s support- of lack thereof for BDS? Be my guest! BUT leave “porn” and your creepy sexual fantasies of Ms. Johansson out of the equation. Remember also that Ms. Johansson is a Jewess, not a Muslim-lady your ilk would ordinarily attack with all sorts of nasty sexist labels such as “prostitutes” etc., drive into a burqa/Urdu and/or kill (to restore phony honor). Ms. Johansson will NOT be intimidated.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Ginger Eis,

            At least you address me as a human being,so I can answer you normally.
            I’m not sure I’m doubting the wisdom of Scarlett’s choice to “support-or lack thereof for BDS”,since she is was only supporting Sodastream ,and the BDS reaction was a predictable reaction.
            I’m doubting if what we are getting fed is real or not.
            I’m calling this an operation against the settlers,and for people like you,that usually just spin anything they think is helping the settlers,this is hard to imagine.
            As for the rest of your post,some jibberish about Jewess,”Muslim-lady(=Muslima,but you wouldn’t know anything about the “enemy” anyway),burqa,”prostitutes”,phony honor etc,I really wouldn’t know what to say,it’s too incoherent and sounds racist.(“my ilk”?)
            Benataim,ani lo choshev she jesh laga moesag al ma ata mekashkesh.
            Shabbat shalom lega,be chol zot.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Till date 99% of “Settlers” does not know of Ms. Johansson. 99.99% of Israeli Jews, and millions of people around the world who came to know her because of recent BDS-noises, realized that she is actually very intelligent, principled, moral and courageous. They love and support her. That said, Israelis in general and “Settlers” in particular do not see BDS as a (serious) threat. For them, the Johansson/BDS/Oxfam-affair is a storm in a teacup. However, for the BDS-movement, that same affair is an earthquake that Israelis/“Settlers” Israelis should be- but are not taking advantage of. The truth is: the affair is not as weighty as BDS sees it. There are no conspiracies or operations against- or for anyone. This is the best verifiable explanation I can give for the seeming lack of interest in the story in the media.

            Reply to Comment
          • shachalnur

            Ginger Eis,

            Shavua tov.

            And again you talk jiberrish about BDS.Things I never claimed.
            BDS is not the point,they are just a group calling for a boycott of Israel,and if some company or country does ,they didn’t do that BECAUSE BDS asked them.
            After two huge pensionfunds from Holland and Norway withdrew their investments,today the biggest banks in Sweden and Denmark put Israeli banks on the boycott list.
            Israeli’s seeing BDS as a threat or not is not the issue,the fact there is a huge attack on the settler movement going on ,including boycotts ,is the issue.
            Futhermore I read a few of your other comments on this site,and your argumentation and tone are mindboggling.
            Discussing with you is like playing chess with a pigeon; you crap on the board,knock over pieces and fly back to your flock claiming victory.
            I really dislike you speaking for “Israeli’s”, I don’t believe you are one or live(d) there,speak for yourself or speak for whoever pays you(and that’s not Israel,for sure).
            You have no idea how much damage you are doing to Israel,Judaism and the Middle East.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Sir, you need to re-read your original first three posts. You more than clearly suggested some kind of conspiracy and/or nefarious activities going on: {(…). “Strangely enough there is not much enthousiasm from sites like Israel National News(Arutz Sheva). (…). I feel this Sodastream operation can not be seen separately from the current geo-political developments going on. Even Scarlett’s explanation for cutting ties with Oxfam is twisted,(…). Could it be the settler movement doesn’t trust Sodastream and Scarlett,giving the possibility this whole saga might turn into very bad publicity for the occupation? I’m doubting if what we are getting fed is real or not”, etc.}. I did my best to scientifically dispel your suggestions. End of story. People can read your posts and makeup their minds as to what you said. Lastly, the rest of your post is off-topic and beneath the standard of discussions I would ordinarily engage in. Take that sewage elsewhere!

            Reply to Comment
    2. Ben Zakkai

      ScarJo chose Sodastream over Oxfam because of her Jewish values. Sodastream paid her more.

      Oh jeez, that’ll never get past the moderator.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      Behold SodaStream – an example of Israeli ingenuity, bridge-building for peace and economic empowerment of they who have less. Boycotting SodaStream is immoral. Miss Scarlett Johansson is indeed smart and brave.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDdH_7GjW40

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        Nice example of blackwhite there Ginj.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Josef

      Thanks for your coverage on this story. I had no idea that SodaStream had a factory in the West Bank specifically to take advantage of cheap labour and legal ambiguity

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        “Cheap labor”? Palestinian employees of SodaStream earn more money than some Jewish Israelis working inside Israel proper!

        Reply to Comment
        • Josef

          Oh really? I don’t see them rushing to SodaStreams defence. Perhaps they’ve been told to “shut up and get on with it”.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Even when Palestinians come out in support of SodaStream (as in the video linked above), you would still claim that they were intimidated into doing so. Facts are facts. And facts, they say are stubborn things. But hey, you have a Constitutional Right to continue sticking your head in the sand. That Right I deny you not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Josef

            You’re right about facts:
            FACT – SodaStream have a factory on occupied land
            FACT – SodaStream pay no taxes to the Palestinian Authority
            FACT – SodaStream do not employ Palestinians in senior management roles
            FACT – SodaStream CEO feels that the Ma’ale Adumim plant is a “pain in the ass”

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            Josef, listen: (1) you accused SodaStream of exploiting “cheap labor”. That claim was shown to be false; (2) then you claimed that Palestinians are not defending SodaStream. That claim was shown to be false; (3) Now you are jumping all over the map (rattled maybe?). I will answer your latest rants: (a) Israel exercised her Rights under Article 51 UN Charter and LAWFULLY occupied Judea and Samaria. Thus, Israel is the LORD of the land and her citizens owes taxes to no other than Israel (it does seem you are not extremely quick, no?); (b) Arabs occupy senior posts in SodaStream. Watch the video linked above; (c) you state: “FACT – SodaStream CEO feels that the Ma’ale Adumim plant is a “pain in the ass”. Well, Duh! SodaStream invests in poor Palestinians and the environment. What does it get in return? Insults, Ingratitude from your ilk.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gearoid

            You are an amazingly dishonest person. You dishonor yourself and the people you claim to speak for with your blatant dishonesty, whitewashing, and cowardice.

            Further, your claim that the Occupation is legal is both a blatant lie and ignorant in the extreme.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            If you want to know who is “whitewashing”, “dishonest”, “dishonorable”, PLEASE watch the video of your friend Norman G. Finkelstein linked below. The dude is very clear. Watch. And weep!

            Now, if you claim (as is obvious from your post) that “the occupation” is LEGAL, pls. make an argument in support of your claim. Five sentences will suffice. Anger and name-calling won’t make that case for you. Welcome to the debate, Sir.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            @ Gearoid

            Correction (with apologies)

            “If you claim (as is obvious from your post) that “the occupation” is LEGAL” … – is NOT correct.

            CORRECT IS:

            “If you claim (as is obvious from your post) that “the occupation” ILLEGAL, pls. …

            Reply to Comment
          • Gearoid

            The FACT is that the Occupation is illegal. Every single international body and the community of states that make up the international system consider it illegal. The only justification any of you apologists have come up with is some weak nonsense based on San Remo (while ignoring the past century of international law) and weak claims of “defensive war” which is false on it’s front since Israel attacked in ’67 and the Palestinians were not party to the conflict.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            What a heap of rubbish.

            >The FACT is that the Occupation is illegal. Every single international body and the community of states that make up the international system consider it illegal.

            Nonsense, with all due respect. I dare you to bring up 1 (one) UNCS/UNGA resolution or ICJ statement which would refer to the occupation as “illegal”.

            >The only justification any of you apologists have come up with is some weak nonsense based on San Remo (while ignoring the past century of international law)

            You must be referring to UNGA resolutions 181, 273 and UNSC resolution 69. Ever bothered to read these?

            One can’t really cherry-pick resolutions he likes and demand their implementation while rejecting less likeable ones. The law is a package deal, as Mr. Finkelstein had said http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIBGSSw4lI

            >…and weak claims of “defensive war” which is false on it’s front since Israel attacked in ’67

            Weak is your knowledge of history. In 1967 it was Jordan who attacked Israel. Was dragged into war by Egypt, to be exact, but that does not change much.

            From wikipedia:

            On June 5 at 7:45 Israeli time, as civil defense sirens sounded all over Israel, the IAF launched Operation Focus (Moked). All but 12 of its nearly 200 operational jets launched a mass attack against Egypt’s airfields.

            Jordan was reluctant to enter the war. Nasser used the obscurity of the first hours of the conflict to convince King Hussein that he was victorious; he claimed as evidence a radar sighting of a squadron of Israeli aircraft returning from bombing raids in Egypt, which he said was an Egyptian aircraft en route to attacking Israel.

            Intermittent machine-gun exchanges began taking place in Jerusalem at 9:30 am, and the fighting gradually escalated as the Jordanians introduced mortar and recoilless rifle fire. Under the orders from General Narkis, the Israelis responded only with small-arms fire, firing in a flat trajectory to avoid hitting civilians, holy sites or the Old City. At 10:00 am on June 5, the Jordanian Army began shelling Israel. Two batteries of 155mm Long Tom cannons opened fire on the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Ramat David Airbase. The commanders of these batteries were instructed to lay a two-hour barrage against military and civilian settlements in central Israel. Some shells hit the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

            Israel assumed that the attacks were a symbolic gesture of solidarity with Egypt, and sent a message to King Hussein promising not to initiate any action against Jordan if it stayed out of the war. King Hussein replied that it was too late, “the die was cast”.

            At 11:15 am, Jordanian howitzers began a 6,000-shell barrage at Israeli Jerusalem. The Jordanians initially targeted kibbutz Ramat Rachel in the south and Mount Scopus in the north, then ranged into the city centre and outlying neighbourhoods. Military installations, the Prime Minister’s Residence, and the Knesset compound were also targeted. Israeli civilian casualties totalled 20 dead and about 1,000 wounded. Some 900 buildings were damaged, including Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

            Reply to Comment
          • Josef

            So you support occupation and exploitation of the State of Palestine. Congratulations and Well done.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Danny

      Bad PR on Johansson’s part. She should have refused Soda-Stream’s dirty money simply on the grounds that it will tarnish her image, and might cost her acting roles. Her films might suffer too, especially in Europe.

      My guess is that her agent or personal manager is a zionist.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Wrong again, Danny. Ms. Johansson’s career is more than SECURED in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Israel. Before the latest BDS-debacle, Ms. Johansson was arguably an obscure celebrity, while much of the world knew not about the existence of SodaStream. But the BDS-leaders/supporters have changed all that overnight – COST FREE! Indeed there can be no better advertisement: millions of people around the world now recognize Ms. Johansson as a superstar, a very principled, prudent beauty who is not intimidated by thugs, while – according to reports that are coming in from Germany – the sales of SodaStream products are skyrocketing. As your friend Norman G. Finkelstein said: BDS-movement is a Cult that makes up numbers, believes its self-created fantasies and sticks its head in the sand.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          Save your hasbara for someone else.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ginger Eis

            What a good way to shut down the debate and run for dear life, Danny. Each time BDS-leaders/supporters are confronted with the truth and challenged to a debate, they take to their heels and run as fast as they can. Indeed, what an excellent way to convince the world to come crashing down on Israel with Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions. We have not even started and you are already on the run? Beware, Danny! Israel will be well defended – on all fronts.

            Reply to Comment
    6. richard witty

      I take her at her word.

      1. That believes in constructive engagement rather than anti- normalization.

      Ultimately racism is heightened bt isolation (Bds) and reduced by contact.

      2. That jobs are more important for Palestinian community than political litmus.

      3. That the Bds movement is not benign, and willingly harassers those that differing sincere and well-intended positions.

      4. That does not intend to harm oxfam by dissing them publicly.

      I personally find it ironic that oxfam opposes jobs in the west bank by the current only way that paledtinians can work.

      I don’t believe that Scarlett Johansen is cynical. I believe that she is sincere, and has a clear contract with sodastream but not one with oxfam.

      I think oxfam will suffer from this, Palestinian employees and then downstream from them (those whose goods and services they buy).

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >I think oxfam will suffer from this

        Lately oxfam had became rather obsessed with Israel.
        http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/oxfam_syria_blatant_double_standards

        Palestinian employees and then downstream from them (those whose goods and services they buy).

        Only Palestinians employees would suffer. It it really not a problem to relocate the factory inside Israel proper, to Umm elFahm area for instance. End customers would only have to pay a dollar or two more.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      Funny how life imitates art. ScarJo must have read the play and taken to heart the lessons drawn from the Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies character in Cabaret: ..Money makes the world go ’round, the world go ’round…” Merely as amoral as the character, period.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Not as amoral as Oxfam and the BDS ilk, who would rather make another few hundreds of Palestinian Arabs unemployed than would agree to any normalization network.

        Reply to Comment
    8. directrob

      Everyone is free to think whatever they want to think about BDS but I see no logic in the position to oppose trade with the West Bank settlements and not to oppose trade with Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Richard Witty

      My dilemma is that I firmly believe that Israeli policies and practices are often immoral, unjust.

      But, that I find that proposed remedies and political strategies towards Israel are also immoral and unjust (or potentially).

      That is the case with BDS. I cannot disassociate it from the stories that I heard from my mother-in-law of being boycotted in Hungary even before the naziis came to power in their neighbor/ally.

      I know it is not my experience, and a shadow compared to the current and ongoing oppression of Palestinians, but I have to find other ways to dissent that are genuinely non-violent (not just less violent, or non-violent at current scale: a boycott that causes people to go hungry or their economy to go into depression is not non-violent).

      So, today I had an encounter with a 972 writer on the subject on facebook (who unfriended me for stating that I found snark to be an inneffective means to make change).

      Most American liberal Jews (mostly sympathetic to Zionism in some form) have similar sensitivities.

      The consequence of being banned from a blog, from a facebook discussion, are to be made invisible (the same as occurs to disenfranchised and intentionally ignored Palestinians).

      There are better ways to make change, that enlist the sensitivities and motivations of liberals (even if not radical), rather than alienate them.

      So, that is my dilemma.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        “My dilemma is that I firmly believe that Israeli policies and practices are often immoral, unjust”. Please substantiate – if you desire the issue debated.

        “… oppression of Palestinians”? Pls. define what you mean by oppression and give specific examples of how ‘Palestinians are oppressed’.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Fr Rob

      God bless her! Keep up the good work!

      Reply to Comment
    11. The Trespasser

      >Further, your claim that the Occupation is legal is both a blatant lie and ignorant in the extreme.

      As a matter of fact, there is nothing illegal with occupation per se.

      There is no international law which would prohibit a state from occupying another state’s territory in military interests during a conflict, the only relevant paragraph is saying that “acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible” meaning that once the conflict has ended and there is no military need to hold the territory in question, the occupying state must withdraw and return territories to their rightful owner.

      In this particular case, however, very definition of “occupation” is ambiguous:
      While at one hand we have UNSC and UNGA, who has a particular standing on Israel/Palestine issue, which is the Green Line, more or less, at other hand we have Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah who defy the international law in whole, do not recognize UNSC and UNGA authority and claim that the Zionists Entity is not legal in whatever borders. PLO/Fatah was on that list from inception in 1964, however now they had changed their official stance and altered party chapter. The only problem is that they hardly represent anyone, deemed by the majority of Palestinians as thieves and traitors.

      Basically, until ALL parties to the conflict (Israel, Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and Allah knows what else fractions) agree to comply to the international law in whole, the conflict can not be resolved and Israel have a right to maintain military occupation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        Good post, Trespasser! I would only add that only Chapter VII UN Chatter Resolutions are binding. UNGA-resolutions are by definition not binding. UNSC 242 was not taken under Chapter VII and as such not binding. Israel and the Palestinians adopted UNSC 242 only as “basis” for resolving the conflict (which is exactly that that resolution is, i.e. a ‘guideline’). Pursuant to UNSC 242 the parties are engaging in negotiations in which: (a) Israel must be recognized within secured boundaries in exchange for (b) relinquishing most (not all) of the territories it recently occupied, etc. Until there is a negotiated settlement, the “occupation” (whatever means re disputed Judea and Samaria) remains valid under International Customary Law and article 51 UN Chatter. I would also remark that “Occupation of territory” and “acquisition of territory” are two totally different things. If and when a territorial compromise is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, the territories that will be annexed to Israel shall have been acquired peacefully within the meaning of relevant provisions.

        Reply to Comment
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