Opinion Carol Hunt

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Scarlett clear in her reasons for ending role as Oxfam ambassador

Scarlett and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion when it comes to boycotts, writes Carol Hunt

Actress Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with Oxfam International after being criticised over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank. AP
Actress Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with Oxfam International after being criticised over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank. AP
Carol Hunt

Carol Hunt

Poor Scarlett Johansson. Once the liberals' favourite luvvie, she now stands accused of being a money-grabbing, apartheid-supporting, anti-democratic hypocrite. From icon to demon in a matter of weeks. Dear me. What on earth did the sweet-faced, pillow-lipped actress do? Agree to get paid millions to star in a film eulogising North Korea? Tweet her support for Bashar al-Assad? Invade Iraq?

Nope, it was worse than that. What Scarlett did was to agree to become the brand ambassador for a SodaStream company. Meanwhile, Johansson has also worked as a global ambassador for Oxfam for the past eight years, visiting places like post-tsunami Sri Lanka, drought-hit Kenya and India – where she personally provided three years' funding for an Oxfam school. By all accounts, including Oxfam's, she was a very successful and dedicated ambassador.

So what's the problem? Well, SodaStream International is an Israeli company. Perhaps that's why Scarlett accepted the post as its brand ambassador, being half Jewish herself. But the SodaStream factory is built in what is called Zone C – right in the middle of the disputed area of the West Bank. Though the area is technically under Israeli control, it is still subject to disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. However, former Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, praised the Soda-Stream factory just last November, calling it a "beacon of co-operation" between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian workers say they take home "three to four times the common wages in the territories as well as pensions and medical insurance".

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