“Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right.” (Proverbs 16:13)
Actress Scarlett Johansson responded to controversy that erupted last week when she was named SodaStream’s global spokeswoman. In a statement published in the Huffington Post, she said she supports SodaStream and considers the company an ambassador for peace in the region.
The controversy arose when word got out that Johansson, an ambassador for Oxfam and a political activist, would be appearing in a Super Bowl commercial for the home soda-making machine manufacturer. SodaStream has a factory in Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone, located beyond the so-called “green line” and therefore in disputed territory internationally considered illegal for settlement. The company provides jobs, fair wages and equal working conditions for all its employees, including 900 Arab workers, of whom some 550 are Palestinian.
Although Oxfam did not terminate its relationship with Johansson over her decision, it did criticize her choice. “Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors,” a statement on the organization’s website reads. “However Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.” Oxfam describes itself as “a confederation of 17 like-minded organizations working together to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.”
In her statement, Johansson says she never meant to express a political stance by taking the job, but is glad her decision brought this issue to light.
“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine. 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,” her statement reads. Johansson supports a two-state solution with peaceful relations between democratic countries.
Directly addressing Oxfam’s complaints, Johansson goes on the say, “As part of my efforts as an Ambassador for Oxfam, I have witnessed first-hand that progress is made when communities join together and work alongside one another and feel proud of the outcome of that work in the quality of their product and work environment, in the pay they bring home to their families and in the benefits they equally receive.”
Johansson says she trusts in consumers to make their own educated decisions, but “I stand behind the SodaStream product and am proud of the work that I have accomplished at Oxfam as an Ambassador for over 8 years.”