Scarlett Johansson Releases Statement On SodaStream Criticism

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Scarlett Johansson has been the subject of intense scrutiny since she became a brand ambassador for SodaStream, a company that has drawn criticism for operating a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

In a statement released exclusively to The Huffington Post, Johansson says she "never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream," but wants to "clear the air."

"I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine," the actress said. "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. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day."

Oxfam International, which Johansson also promotes, had earlier criticized the actress over the SodaStream deal. "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."

In her own statement, Johansson made direct reference to Oxfam.

"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 said. "I believe in conscious consumerism and transparency and I trust that the consumer will make their own educated choice that is right for them. 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. Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future."

A representative for Oxfam told the New York Times that the organization has not asked Johansson to abandon her relationship with SodaStream. Susan Sarandon has previously promoted the product.

SodaStream, which offers products that allow users to carbonate beverages at home, has said its West Bank factory employs 550 Palestinians who are afforded the same benefits as Israeli workers. The company has 25 factories around the world, and has released videos illustrating its claims that the West Bank factory operates in equitable conditions. An unnamed Palestinian worker disputed the claim that workers at the plant are treated well in a report published by The Electronic Intifada.

Johansson's full statement is available below.

While I never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance as part of my affiliation with SodaStream, given the amount of noise surrounding that decision, I'd like to clear the air.

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. That is what is happening in their Ma’ale Adumim factory every working day. 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.

I believe in conscious consumerism and transparency and I trust that the consumer will make their own educated choice that is right for them. 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. Even though it is a side effect of representing SodaStream, I am happy that light is being shed on this issue in hopes that a greater number of voices will contribute to the conversation of a peaceful two state solution in the near future.

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