Scarlett Johansson responds to critics of Israeli soda ad

Scarlett Johansson is endorsing an Israeli soda during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. But the Israeli company operates in the Palestinian West Bank, and critics, including Oxfam, are angry about Scarlett Johansson's support for SodaStream.

Scarlett Johansson is responding to criticism over her new ad campaign for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.

The 29-year-old actress said in a statement released Friday to The Huffington Post that she "never intended on being the face of any social or political movement, distinction, separation or stance" as part of her affiliation with SodaStream International Ltd.

The Israeli drink maker recently signed the "Her" and "The Avengers" actress as its first "global brand ambassador." She is to appear in a television ad during the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

SodaStream has come under fire from pro-Palestinian activists for maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians.

Oxfam International took issue with Johansson this week because the humanitarian group opposes "all trade" from Israeli settlements, claiming they are illegal and deny Palestinian rights.

The Oxfam statement says, in part: "Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors. However Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law."

Johansson has served as a global ambassador for Oxfam since 2005, raising funds and promoting awareness about global poverty. But Oxfam says that it is "now considering the implications her new statement [on SodaStream] and what it means for Ms Johansson's role as an Oxfam global ambassador."

"I remain a supporter of economic cooperation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine," said Johansson. "SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights."

Johansson added that she stands behind the SodaStream product and is proud of her work with Oxfam.

SodaStream says it employs 550 workers in its West Bank factory. The company makes a product that allows users to carbonate beverages at home,

As Commentary Magazine, a conservative Jewish publication, wrote: "Johansson probably thought this was a win-win: she can proudly promote an Israeli company (Johansson is Jewish) that also helps the Palestinian population by offering them jobs at higher wages as well as benefits and an on-site mosque."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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