Scarlett Johansson Defends Israel, Quits Oxfam

Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson has quit her role as an "ambassador" for Oxfam International after the global charity criticized her for appearing in a Sodastream commercial that was prepared for the Super Bowl. Sodastream, an Israeli company that manufactures do-it-yourself carbonated beverage systems, has been targeted by the anti-Israel left because it has a factory in Ma'ale Adumim, an eastern suburb of Jerusalem that lies across the 1949 armistice line, and hence inside the West Bank, which Palestinians claim as their own.

Though it is widely understood that Ma'ale Adumim and its roughly 40,000 residents would remain part of Israel in any likely peace agreement with the Palestinians, Palestinians have long opposed its construction and continue to demand its removal. Sodastream, like other Israeli companies, has been criticized for several years by the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Oxfam has not officially endorsed the BDS movement, but openly opposes trade with Israeli companies doing business in the West Bank. 

Johansson had rejected earlier criticism of her Sodastream ad by noting that the company "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 also said that she is "a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine." 

The racy ad was initially rejected because of disparaging references to Coke and Pepsi, which are now cut out.

The BDS movement put Oxfam under intense pressure. Johansson is not the first celebrity to part ways with Oxfam over Israel and Sodastream: BDS activists pushed Oxfam to drop Italian celebrity Paola Maugeri in 2012, for example. 

Though conservatives have come to view Johansson skeptically because of her enthusiastic role in boosting Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, and her recent campaigns for Obamacare, her strong and ongoing defense of Israel against pressure from the far-left BDS movement may win back some fans. 


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