SodaStream controversy bubbles over for the popular actress
Updated at 12:20 p.m. EST on Jan. 30
“If only I could make this message go viral.” That’s the tagline for actress Scarlett Johansson’s advertisement for SodaStream, her first as the Israeli company’s “brand ambassador,” and it’s undeniable that she got her wish. Though the ad was pulled from the Super Bowl, reportedly for fear of offending major sponsors Coke and Pepsi, millions are learning of the personal soda-making machine — and its business operations.
Controversy over SodaStream’s manufacturing plant in the occupied West Bank has fizzed up, now costing Johansson another title. She announced Wednesday that she is stepping down from her Oxfam ambassador post over a “a fundamental difference of opinion” with the humanitarian group over SodaStream’s West Bank location. Oxfam opposes all trade from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying that they are illegal and deny the rights of Palestinians. SodaStream’s large factory is located in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, on territory captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians claim the land for a future state.
“Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years,” the Avengers star’s 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.”
Last week, as criticism mounted of Johansson’s role as SodaStream’s pitch woman, she wrote a blog post explaining she was a “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” a position with which Oxfam disagreed.
“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,” the organization said in a statement on Thursday accepting Johansson’s decision to step down. “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.”
This story has been updated to include a statement from Oxfam.