Scarlett Johansson: Ambassador of exploitation


The Palestine Solidarity Campaign recently reported:

“Actor, Scarlett Johansson, is currently an Ambassador for Oxfam but has just signed up to promote Sodastream.

Sodastream’s main factory is in a settlement – Mishor Adumim – in the Occupied West Bank. These settlements are illegal under international law, and an obstacle to peace – therefore settlement production relies on, and supports, an activity that is illegal.

In response to letters sent far, the Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring has stated that Oxfam

”is opposed to trade from Israeli settlements, in which Sodastream is engaged. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and have a devastating effect on the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian communities that Oxfam works with. Trade with businesses operating in settlements exacerbates the ongoing poverty and denial of Palestinians’ rights that Oxfam addresses in its work.”

Significantly, he states that Oxfam “are now engaged in a dialogue with Scarlett Johansson on these important issues”.

Take action!

Please email  Mark Goldring, the CEO of Oxfam

Friends of Lebanon has sent the following email to Oxfam.  We will let you know if we receive a response.  Please feel free to forward this letter to Oxfam executives if you are in agreement.

Dear Mr Goldring,

Oxfam states that “In all we do, Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.” It is therefore incomprehensible, illogical and hypocritical to continue Oxfam’s choice of Scarlett Johansson as its ambassador.  Her recent decision to take on the same role of ambassador for Sodastream is at direct odds with the principles that motivate Oxfam.  What about the poverty and injustice that so clearly and so painfully have strangled the Palestinian people?  Sodastream exploits their desperate situation.  Her current promotion of a company that represents one of the greatest injustices of our time will surely taint the work that Oxfam contributes to societies worldwide.  It is simply wrong.

Oxfam recently surveyed the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.  The Palestinians are not so very different, trying to survive in a hostile climate, essentially refugees clinging to what is left of what used to be their home.  Would you endorse the exploitation and ridicule of the Syrian refugees?  Please do not associate Oxfam with those who exploit and ridicule the Palestinians.

Please take a stand.

Sincere regards,

Friends of Lebanon


UPDATE:  We received the following response, dated 23 January 2014:

Dear Friends of Lebanon,

Thank you for your email. Here is Oxfam’s statement on this question: “We are proud of our relationship with Scarlett Johansson who has worked with Oxfam since 2005 to support Oxfam’s mission to end poverty and injustice. As an Oxfam Global Ambassador, she has travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty, and she has helped to raise critical funds for life-saving and poverty-fighting work around the world. We deeply value her support. 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 made our concerns known to Ms Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.”

Best wishes,


Mark Goldring
Chief Executive

Oxfam GB
Oxfam House
John Smith Drive
Oxford, OX4 2JY
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0) 1865 472436
Mobile: +44 (0) 7786 377992
Twitter: @Mark_Goldring1


UPDATE: On 29 January 2014 Scarlett Johansson’s spokesperson issued a statement:

“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years.  She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

(Is it odd that she is hired to speak on behalf of Oxfam and Sodastream, yet does not speak for herself, but hires a spokesperson?)

So, Scarlet chooses exploitation over human rights, as she dumps Oxfam to advocate for an Israeli company built in an illegal settlement on Palestinian land.  She mimics Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum’s boast of how the company is good for Palestinians and how he is building bridges and so on.

Let us call his bluff. Tell him if he cares so much for them, let him offer to trade places within the Sodastream workforce. Isn’t that a typical way to build bridges? For every Jewish Israeli employee, replace him with a (Muslim or Christian) Palestinian. For every Palestinian employee, replace him with a Jewish Israeli.  Same jobs, same pay, same benefits; just different people filling the positions.  Well, Daniel? Are you up to the challenge?

Want to read more refuting Birnbaum’s claims? Try these for starters:


UPDATE: Oxfam upholds boycott

On 30 January 2014, Oxfam issued a statement:

Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions.

While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador.

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.

Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.



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