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Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam role over relationship with SodaStream

JERUSALEM -- Scarlett Johansson has severed ties with the charity Oxfam International over her relationship with SodaStream, an Israeli-owned company that operates in the West Bank.

In a statement released Thursday, Oxfam said it had accepted the actress' decision to step down after eight years as a “global ambassador" for the charity, saying her position as a spokeswoman for SodaStream was "incompatible" with her role at Oxfam.

Johansson, who appears in a television ad for the company set to debut during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, has come under intense fire in recent weeks from Palestinian activists who oppose SodaStream's presence in the West Bank.

The company, which produces machines that make carbonated beverages, operates a factory in Maale Adumim, a Jewish settlement on land Israel seized in the 1967 war, and which Palestinians claim for a future independent state.

A statement from Johansson's spokesman published by the Associated Press cited a  “fundamental difference of opinion" with Oxfam over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

Activists from the campaign, which is modeled after protests against apartheid rule in South Africa, had pressed Oxfam to disassociate itself from Johannsson.

On Thursday, Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist and founding member of the boycott group, said that in prioritizing SodaStream over Oxfam, Johansson had "become the new propaganda face of Israel's occupation and apartheid."

"Her reputation as a defender of human rights has suffered irreparably," Barghouti said. 

Johansson defended her role with SodaStream in a statement last week, saying, “I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine."

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

Twitter: @katelinthicum

 

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