US actress Johansson quits as an Oxfam ambassador

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SCARLETT-HALL-OF-FAME

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson on Sunday defended her decision to quit as an Oxfam ambassador after she faced criticism for working for a firm operating in an Israeli settlement.

In an interview published in Britain’s Observer newspaper, Johansson said she stood by her decision to act in an advert for Israeli company SodaStream, which manufactures a device for making carbonated drinks at home and has a factory in the occupied West Bank.

Johansson’s departure from Oxfam in January was welcomed by Palestinian activists although some criticised the charity for not severing ties with the Hollywood star, branded by critics as the “new poster girl for Israeli occupation”.

“I was aware of that particular factory before I signed,” she explained to the Observer. “And it still doesn’t seem like a problem — at least not until someone comes up with a solution to the closing of that factory and leaving all those people destitute.”

The firm, which is based near Tel Aviv, has 25 factories around the world, including one in Mishor Adumim industrial park, near Maaleh Adumim settlement east of Jerusalem.

It employs 800 Palestinians alongside 500 Israelis, a company spokesman told AFP.

Describing how she became involved in the debate about Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, the actress said: “I was literally plunged into a conversation that’s way grander and larger than this one particular issue. And there’s no right side or wrong side leaning on this issue.”

The incident put a spotlight on the creeping success of a campaign to boycott trade linked to Israeli settlements that are built on Palestinian land seized during the Six-Day War of 1967.

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