Actress Scarlett Johansson blamed anti-Semitism for the criticism she received in some quarters for serving as spokeswoman for Israeli sodamaker SodaStream.
“There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there,” Johansson said in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, published in its May issue, which hit newsstands April 10.
Johansson, who is Jewish, stirred a vehement debate in January when she accepted the role of spokeswoman for SodaStream, which makes home carbonation machines and operates a plant in Ma’ale Adumim, a large West Bank settlement near Jerusalem.
“I’m not an expert on the history of this conflict, and I’ve never professed to be,” Johansson told the British newspaper the Telegraph in an interview published in March.
“But it is a company that I believe in, that I think has the ability to make a huge difference, environmentally. [CEO] Daniel Birnbaum has said many times that this factory is one he inherited, and that he doesn’t want to fire people – the majority of those people being Palestinian,” she said.
SodaStream maintains that the West Bank plant contributes to Israeli-Palestinian coexistence and employs hundreds of Palestinians, but critics supporting the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel slammed Johansson’s move, and she ended up resigning from her longtime spokeswoman’s position with anti-poverty group Oxfam as a result of the controversy.
In late February, in her first published interview since she became SodaStream’s spokeswoman, she insisted that she didn’t see herself as “a role model” and absolved herself from responsibility for “whatever image is projected on to me.”
In those remarks, which were published in the print-only magazine Dazed but covered widely on the Internet, the actress did not address the SodaStream issue directly but noted that “you have to have peace of mind” and said that without protecting oneself from public opinion, “you’d go crazy, anybody would go crazy.”