January 15, 2014
Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Dear Raymond Offenheiser,
We are writing to express our dismay about the fact that Oxfam Global Ambassador and Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson last week became the Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream, an Israeli settlement manufacturer.
Although SodaStream products are labeled as "Made in Israel," its main production facility is in the industrial zone of Mishor Edomin, an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. As a result, SodaStream enjoys cheap land and water, confiscated from the indigenous Palestinian owners; a captive Palestinian labor force; tax benefits; and lax regulation of environmental and labor protection laws.
On July 24, 2012, Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International's Executive Director, said: "Europe's condemnation of Israel's settlement expansion is welcome but words alone mean nothing when people's lives keep worsening...EU governments must match their words with urgent and concrete measures to push for an immediate end to settlement construction and the unlawful demolition of Palestinian civilian infrastructure."
In October 2012, Oxfam Italy cut its ties with Paola Maugeri over her role as a SodaStream PR Ambassador. In 2009, Oxfam International cut ties with Kristin Davis over her role as spokesperson for cosmetics company Ahava, which operates in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. As the manager for CODEPINK’s Ahava boycott I was involved in the campaign around the Oxfam/Davis/Ahava triangle, and it feels like a weird déjà vu to be in this same situation less than five years later. How is it that TWO Oxfam Goodwill Ambassadors end up as the spokespersons for Israeli settlement goods?
We urge Oxfam to take action and press Johansson to end her deal with SodaStream or to end its relationship with the actress to send the message that supporting companies that profit from occupation and human rights abuses is unethical.
Nancy Kricorian, CODEPINK Women for Peace
P.S. Thought this blog post from the Jewish Daily Forward might be of interest.