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January 30, 2014 12:59 am

Scarlett Johansson Cuts Ties With Oxfam Over Differences on BDS Movement

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Scarlett Johansson filming her first SodaStream commercial. Photo: SodaStream.

Scarlett Johansson filming her first SodaStream commercial. Photo: SodaStream.

Actress Scarlett Johansson ended her relationship with  Oxfam International citing “a fundamental difference of opinion” over the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Associated Press reported Wednesday evening, citing her spokesman.

“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” her statement 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’s rift with the relief group began earlier this month when she was unveiled as the new face of Israeli carbonated drinks maker, SodaStream. Following the announcement, anti-Israel groups attacked Johansson citing the company’s West Bank based factory, which they deem to be problematic.

“Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law,” the group said at the time, adding that, “We have made our concerns known to Ms. Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues.”

Johansson, who is Jewish, responded with a detailed statement highlighting the cooperation that takes place between Jews and Arabs at SodaStream’s factory. “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,” she said at the time.

“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” she added.

Jewish human rights group, the Anti-Defamation League, praised Johansson’s “principled” stand.

“We salute Scarlett Johansson’s statement explaining clearly and directly the reasons for her association with SodaStream, and commend her principled opposition to those who have sought to use her relationship as a celebrity spokesperson for SodaStream to promote a divisive and highly politicized campaign designed to cause economic harm to the company and its hundreds of employees,” said Anti-Defamation League National Director, Abraham Foxman, in a statement.

“Johansson had served as a global ambassador for Oxfam since 2007, raising funds and promoting awareness about global poverty,” the Associated Press reported.

Oxfam has been involved in a number of controversies involving Israel, and has long been accused of bias against the Jewish State.

In its report on the organization, watchdog group NGO Monitor which tracks bias in non-governmental organizations, said, “Oxfam consistently paints a highly misleading picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict, departing from its humanitarian mission focused on poverty. Most Oxfam statements erase all complexity and blame Israel exclusively for the situation, and these distortions and their impacts contribute significantly to the conflict.”

“Oxfam also distorts economic analyses of the West Bank and Gaza, repeatedly arguing that that the sole impediment to Palestinian development is Israeli policy, ignoring intra-Palestinian limitations and factors,” NGO Monitor added.

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