Scarlett Johansson is right – the face of SodaStream doesn’t fit with Oxfam

Vijay Prasad in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_478 Jan. 31 14.22Global charities seek global ambassadors to help them raise the profile of their work. Simply doing their best to stem the tide of suffering is not enough to gain potential donors' attention. But if a celebrity goes among the poor on behalf of the charity, the media flocks to cover the story – or at least the fact that the celebrity is there. The nuts and bolts of inequality are often overlooked, but the charity gets its name in print or on the television. This is the sorry state our humanism has reached.

It is precisely because of this that Oxfam, founded in Oxford in 1942 as Famine Relief, turned to the actor Scarlett Johansson in 2007 to become its global ambassador. She travelled to Oxfam projects, something that provided photo opportunities for herself (as a caring artist) and for Oxfam (to shine a light on the important work that the charity does).

In January, Johansson was appointed the brand ambassador for SodaStream, an Israeli company that produces machines to carbonate beverages. SodaStream's factory is located in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem.

Israeli settlements (including Maale Adumim) are built on land seized from the Palestinians during the 1967 war. By the standards of the Geneva convention, the Rome Statute and the international court of justice, they have been developed illegally by Israel. Israel has thumbed its nose at international law and continued to build its settlements, including industrial parks such as the one that houses SodaStream.

The European Union has called the E1 parcel of land that Israel plans to build on, extending from Maale Adumim, a violation of international humanitarian law. Johansson, in other words, had become the face of illegal Israeli settlement activity.

More here.

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