Israeli Settlement Controversy Leads Scarlett Johansson to Quit Oxfam, Stick With SodaStream

Actress Scarlett Johansson announced Thursday she left her role as an ambassador for the humanitarian group Oxfam International, a position she held for eight years. Her ad campaign for SodaStream, which will air during Sunday's Super Bowl, was at odds with Oxfam's policies regarding business deals with companies that do business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," a spokesperson for the actress said. "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."

Johansson has recently been in ads for SodaStream, a company that makes at-home soda machines. The company has a factory in Ma'aleh Adumim, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

A number of pro-Palestinian groups had contacted Oxfam to complain about Johansson's association, according the The Jerusalem Post.

In a statement, Oxfam said it accepts Johansson's decision and is "grateful for her many contributions," but her work with SodaStream is incompatible with her Oxfam role.

"While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors," Oxfam said, "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."

Johansson first responded to the controversy last Friday in a statement to The Huffington Post. In that statement, she argued that her work with Oxfam was not inconsistent with her work for SodaStream, and did not suggest she would leave Oxfam: "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."

The company's West Bank factory employs both Israelis and Palestinians, she added, pays them the same wages, and provides one of the highest wages for Palestinians in the region.

"I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine," she wrote. "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. 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."

Among her many films, Johansson starred as Black Widow in 2012's superhero blockbuster "The Avengers." She will reprise the role in a sequel due in 2015.

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