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Scarlett Johansson Nearly Tanked Food Charity in U.S., Oxfam CEO Says

Scarlett Johansson’s decision to break ties with Oxfam in 2014 cost the group thousands of U.S. donors, CEO Mark Goldring just revealed. (Photo: SodaSteam)

Scarlett Johansson’s row with the venerable British food charity Oxfam exploded in a “public relations disaster” that nearly wrecked fundraising efforts in the United States after the charity objected to her shilling for an Israeli beverage company.

Oxfam Chief Executive Mark Goldring revealed the fallout from its confrontation with the Hollywood actress today (Dec. 15) during a meeting of charity workers.

The news is making the rounds in London because Johansson’s petulance cost the charity “thousands” of donors in the United States, Goldring revealed.

Johansson had served as an ambassador for the highly regarded charity for eight years. She parted ways with the organization in 2014.

At issue was her representation of SodaStream, an Israeli beverage company. Oxfam became incensed when the company decided to build a factory in the West Bank.

It asked Johansson to resign from the company because the move violated Oxfam’s boycott on goods from Israeli settlements in the disputed territory.

Oxfam even went so far as to release a statement saying they found her work with SodaStream “incompatible” with her ambassador role, according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

But Johansson chose to resign her ambassadorship instead of giving up the commercial relationship, citing “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Goldring, who took over the organization in 2013, said Oxfam let the controversy drag on too long. Johansson could eventually seize the initiative.

“The judgment was when to be proactive, when to be forceful, and when to be balanced and reflective,” he said. “We got that wrong.”

In contrast, a similar row with “Sex and the City Star,” Kristin Davis ended on a better note in 2009. She chose to stop repping for an Israeli cosmetics company when it built a plant in the West Bank, according to the group.

Oxfam is short for the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, founded in Britain in 1942 to fight poverty in developing nations. It now has operations all over the world.

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