Johansson quits as Oxfam ambassador

Actress Scarlett Johansson cut ties with Oxfam Jan. 29 after the charity criticized her support of an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.

She quit Oxfam after accepting the position of global brand ambassador for SodaStream, a beverage company that has a major factory in the controversial Israeli settlement Maaleh Adumim.

Oxfam says it cannot tolerate companies setting up shop in West Bank settlements.

“Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support,” the organization said in a statement posted on its website Thursday.

But in Johansson’s statement, she makes it clear she believes in SodaStream’s work.

“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,” said Johansson.

SodaStream’s Chief Executive Dan Birnbaum said the company is not prepared to sacrifice the jobs of 500 Palestinian employees to satisfy Oxfam, according to CBC News.

SodaStream is one of hundreds of factories operating in the West Bank’s Israeli industrial zones. BBC News reports that an unnamed Palestinian employee said there is racism at work.

Despite their differences, Oxfam and Johansson are parting amicably.

“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,” said Johansson.

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