Scarlet Johansson has no regrets quitting Oxfam for SodaStream ad campaign
Hollywood star says she knew about controversial factory on the West bank before signing with soft drinks company
Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith is a freelance reporter. She was nominated for business journalist of the year at the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards 2012 and her name is so long that she has a double-decker byline in print.
Sunday 16 March 2014
Scarlett Johansson has said she stands by her decision to appear in an advertising campaign for the Israeli-based soft drinks company SodaStream, which has a factory in a settlement on West Bank.
Johansson denied her deal with the brand – which led to her quitting as an ambassador for Oxfam – was a mistake.
She said: “No, I stand behind that decision,” adding, in an interview with the Observer: “I was aware of that particular factory before I signed. And it still doesn’t seem like a problem – at least not until someone comes up with a solution to the closing of that factory and leaving all those people destitute.”
Johansson quit her role as an ambassador for Oxfam in January after working with the charity for eight years.
At the time, Oxfam had come under fire from pro-Palestinian campaigners over the placement of SodaStream’s factory, as the charity considers Israeli settlements on the West Bank to be illegal.
Oxfam had written to Johansson to explain that while the celebrities who volunteer to help the charity are independent, as an organisation it officially “believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support”.
Johansson said she now understands that British opinion on the status of the West Bank is more clear cut than she has found elsewhere, but the fact that the UN, the Red Cross and the International Court of Justice have all agreed the factory clashes with international law, has not changed her mind on the issue.
She said the case against the factory was not clear, and something that is “very easily debatable”.
“In that case… I was literally plunged into a conversation that’s way grander and larger than that particular issue. And there’s no right side or wrong side leaning on this issue,” she added.
Johansson also alleged that Oxfam had supported and funded a BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement, which the charity denies.
She said: “I think for a non-governmental organisation to be supporting something that’s a political cause… something feels not right about that to me. There’s plenty of evidence that Oxfam does support and has funded a BDS movement in the past. It’s something that can’t really be denied.”
The ad campaign for SodaStream that caused the furore was due to be shown during the Super Bowl ad break earlier this year, but was banned by broadcaster Fox for the inclusion of the line: “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi”.
The campaign aimed to promote SodaStream as an ethical soft-drinks company as it does not use plastic bottles, unlike Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
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