Playing the role of Charlotte in Sex and the City, Kristin Davis’s biggest concern was finding Mr Right. But this week she found herself at the centre of a bigger problem — an international row over West Bank settlements.
Ms Davis, whose character in the TV series converted to Judaism to marry lawyer Harry Goldenblatt, has worked as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam since 2005, visiting HIV and Aids projects in Mozambique, Uganda and South Africa.
But the charity has now announced it will no longer use the 44-year-old actress in campaigns because of her appearances in adverts for Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava.
Oxfam, which opposes trade with Israeli companies based in the Occupied Territories, confirmed this week that
it had not sacked Ms Davis, but would not work with her again until her contract with the Israeli company ends.
The decision comes just weeks after Stolen Beauty, a group committed to boycotting Israeli goods, specifically targeted Ms Davis and Ahava.
Stolen Beauty is run by American women who were initially opposed to the Iraq war. They turned their attention to Israel in June, with bikini-clad protestors demonstrating outside an Ahava store in Washington DC and gate-crashing a beach party event promoting Tel Aviv in New York City.
On its website, the group states: “Don’t let the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker fool you; when you buy Ahava products you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“Ahava puts a pretty face on its crimes, even paying Oxfam ambassador and Sex and the City star Kristin Davis to be its spokeswoman.”
Ahava’s mud and mineral products are made in the Mitzpe Shalem kibbutz, around a mile from the banks of the Dead Sea.
The settlement, which is beyond the Green Line, has an Ahava factory which employs 120 people.
Oxfam spokesman Matt Grainger said the decision to drop Ms Davis was not a result of the boycott campaign.
He said: “We are trying to work it through together [with Kristin]. If she was going to work with us like she has done then we do not want this issue to be thrown up again as a distraction.
“We knew at some stage a group would say ‘something’s up here, are they [Oxfam and Ms Davis] still together?’ and we knew we would cop flak. We have clear views on trading with the settlements.
“That’s why we went back to Kristin. We said ‘let’s just keep our heads down’. We are trying to do the right thing. We came to the conclusion it would be very harsh to make a unilateral decision to sack her.”
Mr Grainger could not say whether Oxfam was aware of Ms Davis’s Ahava link when she began representing the charity.
A spokeswoman for Ms Davis said the actress was “passionate about her relationship with Oxfam, and she intends to work with them and other humanitarian causes for years to come”. Ahava declined to comment on the row.
The dispute was more controversy for Oxfam after its honorary president, Mary Robinson, was awarded the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom this week, to criticism from Jewish and pro-Israel groups in the US.
They believe the former president of Ireland is an unfair critic of Israel, and blame her for masterminding the first Durban conference on racism in 1991 which became a forum for Israel-bashing.