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Sorry Oxfam, I disagree, here’s why Scarlett Johansson was right

Scarlett Johansson has resigned as Oxfam Ambassador after being criticized by the charity, which failed to see the bigger picture of what she was actually supporting with SodaStream.

It’s quite sad to see a much respected charity consider Scarlett Johansson’s endorsement of SodaStream as an epic mistake in the Oxfam PR handbook. To point it bluntly, SodaStream is not a political organization. It didn’t set up a factory in the West Bank to defy international law and make a statement. The way I see it, the company has been caught up in the political drama of global affairs where Palestinians rightfully deserve a state and where Israel have set up what the international community considers illegal settlements. I’m not going to argue that case because a solution does need to be found, but to target SodaStream, a company creating a product for people around the world, it doesn’t make sense to me why they should be hounded as ‘illegal and wrong’ by a charity.

After doing some research I discovered that SodaStream employs around 500 Palestinians at the factory (Some say 900). If they moved it, they would all lose their jobs and I don’t see Oxfam offering to replace their salaries or provide humanitarian support with equal pay to help them when all companies in the West Bank are ‘forced to move’. I also find it hard to believe that a local company, selling local products of the same nature would be able to easily replace this factory. SodaStream is an international business after all selling products around the world. I think people are missing the point about what’s happening in the West Bank and there is a shared desire for a solution with both sides working together. Why is Oxfam punishing people like this? I’m amazed.

This to me paints a clear picture of why we should be supporting companies that think like SodaStream

“If a Palestinian state comes into being, as is the aim of current U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, SodaStream will also be happy to stay and pay its taxes to the new Palestinian state.”

Should companies be forced to relocate costing jobs to thousands of people who live locally or should they be allowed to pay local taxes to Palestine when we see a breakthrough and a change? Should charities be acting as political lobbyists when they don’t consider the full implications of their actions, and when people on the ground are trying to make things work?

Scarlet Johansson has been unfairly caught up in it, and she’s actually supporting such a great idea and there’s no pro or anti bias to what she’s doing. I don’t see how Oxfam are helping their cause by disagreeing publicly with the very people who are trying to make that change happen and from my perspective it is a huge setback for them to lose Johansson as an ambassador. I get that there’s a strong anti-settlement movement, but is SodaStream a settlement? I don’t think so. Do they make all their money from Jewish families who have been allowed to move into the West Bank? Again, look at where they make their money.

However, despite my criticism here, what Oxfam do, and the difference they make to people in the world should be supported and encouraged but I simply can’t stay silent when people see just one side of the argument. That is not what I think Oxfam should be sending out, and I would hope at least, they could think about all the facts before making such a decision in the future.

Disclaimer : Film Industry Network is not affiliated with SodaStream