Tag Archives: AHAVA

Video of Ahava Demo – 22 January 2011

Despite the Palestine Solidarity Campaign AGM being held, as well as other events going on today, over thirty human-rights demonstrators (plus a few new faces), campaigned, chanted, leafleted and spoke to local residents, shoppers and visitors informing them regarding Ahava’s corporate complicity in violations of international law over the sale of natural resources that are pillaged from illegally occupied territory. More than a few customers decided to impose their own boycott of Ahava after hearing about the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli Government against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

An observation in a previous post entitled The Return of Roberta Moore – that the Zionist Federation-organised counter-demonstration is ‘melting away’ – seems to be coming true. During the first half of today’s picket, no Zionist turned up which demonstrators, the police and even the Israeli security guard employed by Ahava welcomed. Protestors spread out unchallenged in front of the shop and started to leaflet from outside both pens.

Last month, Ahava shop manager Rita made it clear that she considered the Zionists’ presence unwelcome and their behaviour detrimental to Ahava’s trade.  So perhaps Zionist Federation Co Vice-Chair Jonathan Hoffman spent his Saturday in the pub, called it quits and admitted that his Ahava cause is a lost one.

In a new low, only TWO embarrassed-looking Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators eventually turned up which made their cause look even worse (if that’s possible) when compared to the over thirty human-rights demonstrators present who were campaigning for altruism, equality, compassion and freedom, as well as the closure of the illegal settlement company Ahava.

Advertisements

Boycott roundup: Ahava products off the shelves, for now

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 20 January 2011

Boycott activists protest the sale of Ahava products at a US store (Steve Rhodes).

Canadian and United Kingdom solidarity activists have scored recent victories towards deshelving cosmetics made in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME) reported that on 11 January, Canadian retail chain The Bay dropped Ahava products from its stores. Ahava cosmetic products are made from materials from the Dead Sea in the West Bank, assembled in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, and are labeled “made in Israel.”

The company itself is partially owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia. An international campaign focusing on the boycott of Ahava products has been making waves across Europe and North America over the last two years.

CPJME stated that The Bay dropped Ahava products because they had not “been meeting expectations,” and that the company had “quietly informed” its customers who had objected to the store stocking Ahava products that they would not continue to do so (“The Bay drops controversial AHAVA products,” 13 January 2011).

However, two days later, The Bay (known also as HBC), issued a joint statement with Canada-based Jewish groups who had immediately protested the retail chain’s decision. The move to drop Ahava products was “solely for commercial reasons,” and that “at no point did political considerations enter into” the decision, the statement claims (“The Bay drops Ahava, but not because of boycott,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency,” 14 January 2011).

The announcement adds that Ahava products will be rebranded and will be back on shelves across Canada by this spring. The Bay “neither subscribes to nor endorses politically-motivated boycotts of merchandise from countries with which Canada has open and established trading relationships, including Israel,” the statement says.

The Stolen Beauty campaign, which has been a key organizer of international boycotts of Ahava products, released an action alert this week encouraging boycott supporters to thank HBC, regardless of its future plans and reasons for stopping its sales of Ahava. “Your message of thanks is crucial as right-wing, pro-occupation groups berate and pressure The Bay to reinstate sales of Ahava,” the alert stated (“Thank you for dropping Ahava products!“).

Nevertheless, The Bay’s decision followed a similar move by British retail chain John Lewis, which had publicly announced on 7 January that it has stopped stocking and selling Ahava products.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign issued a press release welcoming John Lewis’ decision, and reprinted part of a letter drafted by the company to the activist group (“John Lewis stops stocking Ahava products in Britain,” 14 January 2011).

Andy Street, John Lewis’ managing director, wrote: “As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of workers and their working conditions. We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment … In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products.”

Sarah Colborne, director of operations with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, stated that Ahava and other companies that profit from Israel’s illegal occupation are being sent a clear message by consumers.

“Although governments, including our own, are failing to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, we can all take action by refusing to buy Israeli goods and joining the movement for [boycott, divestment and sanctions],” Colborne said. “The [Palestine Solidarity Campaign] will continue to ensure that companies which profit from Israel’s occupation pay the price for their complicity in Israel’s crimes.”

Meanwhile, across the world, solidarity activists continue to campaign with the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Ireland artist join boycott pledge

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) announced that two hundred Irish artists have signed onto its Israel boycott pledge, with singer-songwriter Dylan Walshe joining as the latest signatory.

IPSC launched its national campaign in August 2010 in an effort to encourage Irish cultural workers to “avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights (“Irish artists’ pledge to boycott Israel reaches 200 signatories,” 13 January 2011).”

Walshe joins high-profile Irish artists who have committed to the boycott, such as actor Stephen Rea and musician Christy Moore. Raymond Deane, IPSC Cultural Boycott Officer and contributor to The Electronic Intifada, stated in the press release that “[a]s the Israeli state becomes ever more racist, expansionist and oppressive, we have seen the growth in its isolation by international civil society through the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”

Deane, who is also a composer and himself a signatory to the pledge, added, “[t]he success of this boycott pledge is indicative of wider feelings toward Israel, both in Ireland and around the world. Indeed, similar pledges and initiatives are being organized in many other countries.”

Boycott of Israel Philharmonic’s US tour urged

Palestine-based activists with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) issued a statement on 16 January calling for US solidarity groups to boycott the upcoming American tour of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, scheduled for February (“Boycott the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on its US Tour!,” 16 January 2011).

PACBI said the orchestra is scheduled to perform in Palm Beach, New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. “We urge activists to continue the principled tradition of activists in New York and Los Angeles in 2007, when they protested the [orchestra’s] appearance in their cities,” states the press release.

“As befits an institution that identifies with the Israeli state, the [Israel Philharmonic] proudly announces its partnership with the army under a scheme whereby special concerts for Israeli soldiers are organized at their army outposts,” PACBI adds. “The orchestra has lent itself to the official Israeli propaganda campaign titled Brand Israel, which aims to divert attention from Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements.”

PACBI encourages boycott activists in the US to protest and boycott the orchestra’s concerts, saying that as long as it continues to partner with the Israeli government in “planning, implementing and whitewashing war crimes and international law violations,” Israel’s cultural establishment “cannot be exempted from the growing boycott movement.”

Israeli activists initiate boycott campaigns

Activists with the Israeli group Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call From Within (BFW) drafted a letter to British Telecom (BT) on 18 January, calling for the company to cut ties with the Israeli telecommunications company Bezeq International (“Boycott From Within’s letter to BT,” 18 January 2011).

In January 2010, BT incorporated Bezeq International, a subsidiary of Bezeq Israel, into its Global Alliance. The Bezeq corporation provides telecommunication services to illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Thousands of British customers of BT have already joined a campaign calling for the companies to cut ties.

“We are saddened and dismayed by your company’s complicity in severe breaches of international law and the violation of human rights through your relationship with Bezeq International, and call on you to end this relationship at once,” states the activists’ letter. “By partnering with Bezeq, [British Telecom] is supporting the infrastructure which enables illegal Israeli settlements, built in violation of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, to exist,” the letter adds.

“We maintain that such willful blindness to Israeli crimes is not only immoral, but is also in contrast to [British Telecom’s] fiduciary responsibility to its investors, as it may put the company’s high-regard in the international community at risk.”

Meanwhile, BFW activists say they helped play a key role in the recent decision by French pop star Vanessa Paradis to cancel a planned concert in Tel Aviv.

After the group drafted a letter urging Paradis and her partner, American film icon Johnny Depp, to cancel their upcoming visit, the singer announced on 15 January that her performance was cancelled.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that insiders close to the star claimed that Paradis “acceded to calls to cancel the show made by Palestinian solidarity groups” (“Did pop star Paradis cancel Israel concert over politics?,” 16 January 2011).

BFW activists have launched a similar campaign directed at American singer Macy Gray, who this week posted on her Facebook page that she was considering canceling her performance in Tel Aviv due to Israel’s “disgusting” treatment of Palestinians.

“I’m getting alot [sic] of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians,” Gray posted on her page.

Activists with BFW stated that “[c]oming to perform in Israel has become a political act, a statement of support for the State of Israel’s ongoing crimes and human rights violations. It is also an act against a rapidly growing nonviolent, human-rights based civil society Palestinian movement (“Macy Gray, Performing in Israel is Already Political – Stand for Human Rights and Cancel!“).”

BDS Movement Victory: John Lewis Stops Stocking Ahava Products

From CommonDreams.org

WASHINGTON – January 14 – Ahava’s goods, processed on stolen Palestinian land, are becoming too hot to handle. Leading British retail business John Lewis is now refusing to stock this toxic brand. Canadian retailer The Bay has also confirmed that it had also discontinued sales of Ahava products.[1]

No Love for Ahava

John Lewis’ decision signifies yet another victory for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Consumers are refusing to buy goods from companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.

John Lewis’ Managing Director, Andy Street, wrote to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in a letter dated 7 January:
‘As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of workers and their working conditions. We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment.’
He ended by stating:
‘In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products’. 
Sarah Colborne, PSC’s Director of Campaigns and Operations, said: 
‘PSC welcomes John Lewis’ decision to stop stocking Ahava products. Israel’s continued attacks on the Palestinian population – whether living under a brutal blockade in Gaza, under illegal occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or under constant assault inside Israel, has led to a seismic shift in public opinion, with the movement for peace and justice for Palestinians gaining massive support internationally.
 
‘Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company, has its manufacturing plant and visitors’ centre based in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank. The company is 44 per cent owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia, so Ahava’s profits subsidise these illegal colonies.
 
‘Ahava’s manufacturing plant is in an illegal Israeli settlement, on stolen Palestinian land. Its beauty products can’t conceal the role Ahava plays in Israel’s dirty occupation. Ahava, and other companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation, are being sent a clear message by consumers who are refusing to buy their products. Although governments, including our own, are failing to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, we can all take action by refusing to buy Israeli goods and joining the movement for BDS. The PSC will continue to ensure that companies which profit from Israel’s occupation pay the price for their complicity in Israel’s crimes’.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for international boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel. PSC launched its national boycott campaign in 2002, and supports fortnightly protests outside Ahava’s store in Covent Garden, London.
 
[1] The Bay has confirmed that it had discontinued sales of Ahava products – with their CEO Bonnie Brooks saying on 13 January 2011: ‘the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) discontinued sales of AHAVA beauty products, primarily because of sales results which had been declining for several years.’ It acknowledged that ‘Although this decision was made by HBC solely for commercial reasons, it occurred at the same time as an aggressive campaign by several groups advocating a boycott of AHAVA products.’
 

TAKE ACTION!

Thank John Lewis for taking this decision:

By email

By telephone
Call their Customer Service team on 08456 049 049, any time between 7am and midnight, 7 days a week. (Local rate number for BT users only. As mobile and other network call charges may vary, please refer to your service provider for more details.)

By post
Write to: Customer Services, John Lewis plc, PO Box 19615, Erskine PA8 6WU.

A Victory!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Canadian Retailer ‘The Bay’ Drops Cosmetics Line as Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Admits Declining Sales and Attempts to Rebrand; Victory for Human Rights Boycott Campaign

Yesterday was an amazing day when, in open recognition of declining sales and the toxicity of the brand, the CEO of giant Canadian retailer The Bay, together with the heads of Canada’s main pro-Israel lobby groups, let slip that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics manufacturer based in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, is pulling its products off the shelf, curtailing international distribution of its signature line and attempting to rebrand its now tarnished image.

This victory for the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott was made possible by the extraordinary efforts of grassroots human rights campaigners from North America, The United Kingdom, France, The Czech Republic, South Africa, Israel, and Palestine, among others countries, to hold Ahava accountable for its violations of international law and its unconscionable occupation profiteering.

But even with this acknowledgement of the success of our campaign, now is not the time to let up the pressure. In the same statement announcing its rationale for dropping Ahava from its inventory, The Bay announced that Ahava would be back with a new, re-branded product line in the spring. This attempt to fool international consumers with a repackaged brand will not go unchallenged, and our campaign will continue.

Background on Ahava’s illegal business practices
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli cosmetics company that has its manufacturing plant and visitors center near the shores of the Dead Sea in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The company is 44% owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia, so that the company’s profits are subsidizing these illegal colonies. Although its goods are manufactured in the West Bank, Ahava labels them as “products of Israel,” a practice that is illegal under European Union law and is currently being investigated in the UK and Holland.

The growing influence of the international boycott campaign
Since its launch in July 2009, the Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott has scored a number of successes. The first victory came after pressure on Oxfam, an international human rights organization, which had publicly condemned all Israeli settlement products, to suspend its Goodwill Ambassador Kristin Davis from publicity work for the duration of her contract as Ahava spokeswoman. Davis, best known for her work on HBO’s Sex and the City, allowed her contract with Ahava to expire a few months later. Abroad, coalition partners in London engaged the UK’s Camden Trading Standards Office to investigate the legality of Ahava’s labeling. Dutch activists and a Minister of the Parliament succeeded in convincing the Dutch Foreign Ministry to launch its own investigation of Ahava’s business methods. Partners in Paris have recently filed suit against the cosmetics chain Sephora for carrying Ahava products, and activists with Open Shuhada Street in South Africa filed a police complaint against a local retail chain that carries Ahava.


Part of a growing international movement
Modeled on the worldwide campaign against apartheid-era South Africa, the movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel was created in 2005 in response to Israel’s many violations of Palestinian rights. The BDS movement has grown and achieved significant successes, particularly following Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2009, which killed over 1400 Palestinians. The Stolen Beauty campaign is a part of this growing international movement. Says Rae Abileah, a Jewish American of Israeli descent and a campaigner with CODEPINK, “Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is no love in occupation. We are part of a grassroots effort to bring about a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.”

TAKE ACTION!

Email ‘The Bay’ and tell them why they should not stock Ahava products (form letter – very easy!).