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Israel PM praises Johansson: 'Scarlett ... I do give a damn!'

Scarlett Johansson recently signed on as a paid spokesperson for SodaStream, an Israel-based company that employs both Israeli and Palestinian workers in its plant in the contentious West Bank. 

Johansson's stance has brought intense criticism from pro-Palestinian activists, but this week, the 29-year-old actress was praised by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Scarlett, I have one thing to say to you: Frankly, my dear, I do give a damn! And I know all of you give a damn, as do decent people everywhere who reject hypocrisy and lies and cherish integrity and truth,” he said at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

The movement to boycott companies that do business in the disputed West Bank is called BDS, standing for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. Citing BDS, Netanyahu stated: “Everyone should know what the letters B-D-S really stand for: bigotry, dishonesty and shame. And those who ... oppose BDS, like Scarlett Johansson, they should be applauded.”

SodaStream signed Johansson in December to be its first global brand ambassador, prompting pro-Palestinian groups to call on Oxfam to sever its ties with the actress. But in late January it was Johansson who resigned from her role fronting the global humanitarian organization. 

It is Oxfam's position that SodaStream, as a business that operates in a West Bank settlement, “furthers the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support."

A rep for Johansson did not respond to a request for comment regarding Netanyahu’s statements. 

Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter.

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