American actress Scarlett Johansson has been criticized for her role as the new face of SodaStream International (NASDAQ:SODA), an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.
Johansson responded to the criticism from Oxfam, in a statement issued to the Huffington Post on Friday to “clear the air,” stating that she “never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, operation or stance as part of [her] affiliation with SodaStream, which operates in the historically contested West Bank territory.”
"I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine," the actress continued. "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."
Oxfam, on its website, wrote about Johansson saying: “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.”
Responding to Oxfam's remarks, Johansson said: “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."
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A representative for Oxfam told the New York Times that the organization has not asked Johansson to drop her advertising contract with SodaStream.
The 29-year-old actress concluded her statement saying: “Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future.”
A commercial from SodaStream's ad campaign is slated to air during Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.
SodaStream is a company that allows users to carbonate beverages at home. According to reports, the company said that its West Bank factory employs approximately 550 Palestinians, who receive the same benefits as Israeli workers.
But, according to a statement issued by The Electronic Intifada in May 2013, an unnamed Palestinian worker had said at the time that the company did not treat them well.