It’s been building for the past week and finally the dam—or damning—broke late last night. Scarlett Johansson announced she would be quitting as Oxfam ambassador in the wake of wide criticism over her support—including commercial pitches—for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.
The statement from her handlers declared:
Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years. 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.
The actress just recently became the first global brand ambassador of SodaStream International Ltd. She’ll appear in an ad for the at-home soda maker during the Super Bowl this Sunday (see preview below). That’s about as high-profile as it gets.
SodaStream has come under fire from some in the media and pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Johansson said last week she was a “supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine.”
But Oxfam, which has been wary of taking sides in the current boycott of Israeli products, announced it was “considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador.” Today it responded to her departure:
Oxfam has accepted Scarlett Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years as a Global Ambassador and we are grateful for her many contributions. 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.
Perhaps she should have stayed inside that computer in Her awhile longer this winter.
All of this is sure to spark varied media response. For starters, a post at Mondoweiss charges that the actress not only quit but threw Oxfam “under the bus.” Ali Abunimah on Twitter: “While Scarlett Johansson’s departure from @Oxfam is welcome, she should have been fired long ago, not allowed to quit.” But he added: “And thanks to
#ScarJo, boycott, divestment and sanctions (on apartheid Israel) is now a huge international story.”
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