Johansson talks up SodaStream in addressing Oxfam criticism

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum announces Scarlett Johansson as the company's first-ever global brand ambassador on Jan. 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SodaStream)

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum announces Scarlett Johansson as the company’s first-ever global brand ambassador on Jan. 10, 2014 in New York City. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for SodaStream)

(JTA) — Scarlett Johansson addressed criticism from the Oxfam aid organization over her role as spokeswoman for SodaStream, which operates a factory in the West Bank.

“I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine,” Johansson, a Jewish-American actress who serves Oxfam as a global ambassador, said in a statement released Saturday. “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.

“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,” she said.

SodaStream, an Israeli firm that manufactures home soda makers, signed Johansson to be its first global brand ambassador. She is set to appear in a television ad for the company during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

The company employs Israeli and Palestinian workers at its factory in the Maale Adumim settlement.

Oxfam addressed Johansson’s association with SodaStream in a statement on its website, saying “Oxfam is now considering the implications of her new statement and what it means for Ms. Johansson’s role as an Oxfam global ambassador.”

On Jan. 23, in a statement posted on its website, Oxfam wrote that it “believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

Johansson has traveled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya on behalf of Oxfam.

Her statement concludes, “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.”

Meanwhile, the Fox network, which is airing the Super Bowl, rejected SodaStream’s commercial for the big game because it objected to a sultry Johansson saying at the end, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi,” USA Today reported.

Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream, told USA Today that it had no choice but to drop the line, but complained to the newspaper that Fox rejected the Super Bowl commercial “because they’re afraid of Coke and Pepsi.”

CBS, which aired the Super Bowl last year, took a similar action against SodaStream’s spot for that game.

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