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January 31, 2014 2:57 pm
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SodaStream CEO: Scarlett Johansson Encouraging Us to ‘Stay the Course’ (VIDEO)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, being interviewed on the BBC. Photo: Screenshot / BBC.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, being interviewed on the BBC. Photo: Screenshot / BBC.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, said the company’s new celebrity spokeswoman, Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson, is encouraging him “to stay the course.”

In an interview on the BBC that aired on Friday, when asked if he thought she might falter in the maelstrom surrounding her appointment and subsequent decision to cut ties with Oxfam, ending her eight-year role as Global Ambassador, Birnbaum said, “I’m getting no sense that she’s wobbling.”

“I’m getting encouragement from her that we should stay the course, and keep on doing the right thing and helping people,” he said. “She is not only a superhero in her movies, she is a superhero in real life.”

Johansson, who will be appearing in SodaStream’s Super Bowl ad, her first for the company, stuck by the Israeli manufacturer that has become a target for the BDS movement, which advocates “boycott, divestment and sanctions” of Israeli companies.

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By trying to punish the owners of Israeli companies, such as SodaStream, the only people who really get hurt are factory workers who lose their jobs, Birnbaum argued on the BBC.

SodaStream’s factory, in the town of Ma’ale Adumim, just over the Green Line, employs 900 people, 500 of whom are local Palestinian Arabs, and both the company and its new spokeswoman believe these paying jobs, assembling its home water carbonation machines, are helping build peace.

Birnbaum told the BBC, in the interview, filmed partly on the factory floor: “We’re giving livelihoods to 500 people who feed 5,000 people who will have no other jobs. Throwing them into unemployment is not what’s going to bring peace to this area, that’s for sure.”

In her statement on Wednesday night, when she resigned from her role at Oxfam, Johansson echoed that sentiment: “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. I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”

In the BBC interview, Birnbaum said, “As an individual, I’m not waiting any more for politicians to make peace. I’ve been waiting for 45 years, and look where we are today. What we’ve decided, at SodaStream, is to start making peace on our own and that’s what we’re doing at this facility.”

“There are no boundaries or restrictions or settlements,” he said. “Everybody is free to grow and prosper and thrive as their potential and desire is, and live together. This is the model for peace, and that’s what we want to continue to develop and expand in this region.”

“And let the politicians do what they do when they get around to it!”

Watch a clip from the BBC interview with SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum here.

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