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Open Letter to Oxfam CEO re Scarlett Johannson & SodaStream

Open Letter to Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring re Scarlett Johannson & SodaStream

by Julie Webb-Pullman
January 25, 2014

Dear Mark,

Oxfam global ambassadors must demonstrate that they are worthy of both Oxfam’s and the international community’s respect by conducting themselves in a manner commensurate with the principles of Oxfam.

A person promoting – thus condoning – gross breaches of international law, is surely not a suitable Global Ambassador for Oxfam.

Oxfam Global Ambassador Scarlett Johannson has signed on to a SodaStream Endorsement deal. SodaStream is an Israeli company that makes products in a settlement built on West Bank territory Israel has occupied since 1967. Such settlements are illegal under international law, and the subject of several United Nations Resolutions.

Continuing to use Scarlett Johannson as an Oxfam Global Ambassador implies that Oxfam also condones these practices, which contravene the rights of Palestinians and the will of the international community, as well as international law.

If thumbing its nose at international law has become one of the principles of Oxfam, the international community – who provides a significant proportion of Oxfam’s funding – has the right to a clear statement on it, not to be fobbed off with secret “dialogue” between Oxfam and Scarlett Johannson.

In the circumstances, the clearest statement that Oxfam does NOT condone breaking international law, or profiteering from illegal Israeli settlement activity, is to immediately dissociate the organisation from the person promoting such practices – Scarlett Johansson.

Oxfam cannot expect either continued support OR respect from the international community otherwise.

Is an ethics-deficient Hollywood actress really worth so much more than the years of goodwill, assistance and hard work Oxfam has achieved to date, and with good judgement and good leadership, could continue to achieve?

Every minute that Oxfam prevaricates on this issue causes more damage to Palestinians, to Oxfam, and to the people it was designed to help – the poor, not transnational companies contravening international law, and exploiting Palestinians for commercial profit.

I draw your attention to a statement made in the Guardian a few months after your appointment to the position of CEO of Oxfam: “We want an organisation that represents the next 50 years, not the last 50."

I also want Oxfam to be an organisation that represents the next 50 years – of justice, freedom and economic opportunity for Palestinians on their own lands, not the last 50 years that have represented nothing but ethnic cleansing, displacement, land theft, and loss of Palestinian life and liberty through illegal Israeli settlements.

As CEO I ask you to take a step towards that future, and immediately relieve Scarlett Johannson of her Oxfam Global Ambassadorship.


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