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In a victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel, Ahava, a multinational Israeli Dead Sea products company, will be forced to close its flagship store in Monmouth Street, central London.
Joint talk by Brighton Jordan Valley Solidarity and Corporate Watch
On Monday 21st November 2010 two campaigners locked themselves inside the Ahava Dead Sea laboratories store in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.
Ahava is an Israeli settler company, owned by the illegal settlements of Kalia and Mitzpe Shalem. The London store has admitted that all the products stocked in the shop, barring tweezers from China, are manufactured in their factory in Mitzpe Shalem. Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago the Guardian’s G2 supplement ran a series of adverts for tourism in Israel. One of them, shown above, describes a holiday in Israel as a ‘unique experience’. Damn right its a unique experience; interrogation by surly airport security, sharing buses with hordes of armed to the teeth Israeli adolescents and the chance to see the old city of Jerusalem policed by racist goons with a quota of Palestinian residents to harass. For the more adventurous tourist there’s the deserted and terrorised streets of the old city of Hebron, daubed with xenophobic graffiti, the apartheid wall, collective puishmment, targeted assassinations, house demolitions, torture and repression – the possibilities are endless.
None of that was mentioned in the G2 adverts. Readers are presented with a picture of a couple enjoying the Dead Sea Coast – much of which is in illegally occupied territory (see http://corporateoccupation.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/kibbutz-kalia-part-1-a-holiday-in-israeli-apartheid/). Read the rest of this entry »
Several companies were advertising construction work at the settlement of Kibbutz Kalia when Corporate Watch visited in April. At the gate to Kalia half finished homes can be seen, along with a sign for the Evelon (www.evelon.com) Real Estate Company. The ‘luxury villa project, dubbed “Qalya Vistas, The Cherry of the Dead Sea”, advertises 54 new housing units. The executing contractor is named as Ts. P Construction and ‘management and supervision’ by Peled Klein Civil Engineering (www.peled-klein.co.il) in Yoqne’am Illit (more about Peled Klein at http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=566).
Evelon seems be aimed at US buyers, a special drop down menu on their site allows customers to select the US state they live in.
Corporate Watch paid a visit to Agrexco’s packing house on the land of the illegal settlement of Kibbutz Kalia, on the Northern Coast of the Dead Sea, during April 2010. The packing house is next to fields of date palms. Thai migrant workers could be seen tending to the palms from cherypickers. Inside the packing house herbs were being packed into boxes marked ‘Carmel ECOFRESH: Produce of Kibbutz Kalia, USA’. ECOFRESH is one of Agrexco’s newer brands which is supposed to represent better food quality (see, for example, http://www.thegrocer.co.uk/articles.aspx?page=articles&ID=52941). Workers inside told us that the herbs were being exported to the US. Read the rest of this entry »
Kibbutz Kalia is an illegal Israeli settlement on the North coast of the Dead Sea. It offers bed and breakfast and a private beach and is attempting to tap in on the steady flow of tourists to the area.
Visitors to the area could be forgiven for not realising that Kibbutz Kalia lies in occupied territory. Its a straight drive along route 90 which bypasses Palestinian communities almost entirely. The North coast of the Dead Sea, although only a few kilometres from Jericho, is completely devoid of Palestinian areas and, only when you go inside Carmel Agrexco date packing houses will you see Palestinians. Visible workers on Kibbutz Kalia’s settlement farms are Thai migrants.
Kalia advertises rooms at its guesthouse on a number of websites including http://www.booking.com, http://www.venere.com, http://www.agoda.com, http://www.travelbyclick.net and http://www.webtourist.net. None of these websites make clear that Kalya is in occupied Palestine or that it is an illegal Israeli settlement. Read the rest of this entry »
At Ma’ale Adumim’s Adumim mall Corporate Watch were able to buy mud from the dead sea, produced under the supervision of Dr Fischer Pharmaceuticals, a company with a sales office in Brussels. Dr Fischer’s line of Dead Sea products and cosmetics, which also included minerals from the Dead Sea, were on sale in the Ma’ale Adumim’s branch of the Israeli Body Shop. Body Shop Israel (apparently separate from the larger international chain although using their slogans) also has a branch on the illegal East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev. Body Shop Israel advertises that their pharmaceutical products are manufactured in the laboratories of Dr Fischer. Dr Fischer’s foreign sales office is:
Dr. Fischer SA / NV
149 Ave. Louise
On the second big Gaza solidarity march in London on 10th January, angry protesters smashed the front of a Starbucks store on Kensington High St, near the Israeli embassy, while other activists occupied the Ahava beauty shop in central London.
Other actions in protest at the Israeli massacre in Gaza that month included occupying the offices of the British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in central London, ‘decommissioning’ the ITT/EDO arms factory in Brighton and university occupations across the country calling for divestment. So, who are these companies and why are they being targeted by protesters and campaigners?
Corporate Watch takes a detailed look.
US women’s anti-war movement, CODEPINK, has launched a new campaign highlighting the role Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli settlement-based spa products company that exploits Palestinian resources and land. After a number of high-profile protests, which spread from the USA to the UK, continental Europe and Israel, Stolen Beauty has already scored some significant goals. Sarah Irving talks to the campaign’s Nancy Kricorian.
What is the Stolen Beauty campaign against Ahava’s Dead Sea Products about?
In the wake of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, CODEPINK Women for Peace felt it was time to take up the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law.
Why did you select Ahava as a target?
We chose Ahava because its practices are against international law. Ahava’s main manufacturing plant and visitor center are based in Mitzpe Shalem, a Jewish settlement in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. Mitzpe Shalem is also part-owner of Ahava and the company’s profits are subsidizing this settlement (all West Bank settlements are illegal under international law). Additionally, Ahava excavates mud from the shores of the Dead Sea north of the Green line (the pre-1967 armistice line between Israel and Jordan), which means it is also violating the 4th Geneva Convention, which explicitly forbids an occupying power from exploiting for profit the captured natural resources of an occupied territory. Ahava also misleadingly labels its products as ‘Made in Israel’ when they are made in the Occupied West Bank.
How have you gone about campaigning against it? What combination of tactics have you used?
We have employed store protests, with Bikini and Bathrobe Brigades going into stores to let consumers know about Ahava’s illegal practices. We have also put pressure on Ahava spokeswoman, Oxfam Ambassador and Sex & the City star Kristin Davis to stop letting Ahava use her face and name to cover up their dirty practices. Her contract lapsed in September, which we counted as a victory. She is no longer working for Ahava, but continues her association with Oxfam.
Has the publicity around celebrity involvement with Ahava been a help or a hindrance?
It is always good to have a celebrity (Kristin Davis) and an ethical non-profit organisation (Oxfam) to use as leverage points in a boycott campaign. A boycott campaign is both ethical and strategic and garnering publicity is one strategy to use in tarnishing Ahava’s reputation.
How important has the Internet and international networking been for the campaign?
The internet has been crucial to our campaign. We have been able to stay in touch with CODEPINK groups around the country as we organize store boycotts, and we are also in touch with groups in the UK and the Netherlands who are also targeting Ahava. The internet has also allowed us to be in close touch with the Israeli women who run Who Profits (www.whoprofits.org), a website investigating and exposing the corporations involved in the Israeli occupation.
What impacts have you had on Ahava so far?
The fact that Ahava lost its celebrity spokesperson is a big deal. Beyond that, we heard through the grapevine that Ahava was looking for refinancing, and every bit of bad publicity we can generate makes it harder for them to find investors. This is a relatively new campaign and we have only begun our work. We are currently putting together a plan for going after Shamrock Holdings, the private fund of the Roy E. Disney family that owns 18% of Ahava.
How does the Stolen Beauty campaign fit into the wider Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement?
As I said before, a boycott is a moral and a strategic instrument. In terms of strategy, we feel that by targeting this particular company, which is based in a settlement and sells settlement products, we can publicize the illegality of all the settlements and the profits that are being made from these illegal actions. As a women’s peace group, it made sense for us to select a cosmetics company, and one that is widely available in the States. The Stolen Beauty Campaign is our contribution to the BDS Movement.
What would your ideal campaign outcome be? Can you envisage an ‘acceptable’ version of Ahava as a company, or do you see them as inherently unethical?
Our ideal outcome would be that the company would move its plant out of the West Bank, and it would stop exploiting Palestinian natural resources. But as two illegal Jewish settlements own and profit from the company -they are in fact subsidized by the company’s profits- they would also have to be bought out and/or move themselves out of the West Bank. In the unlikely event that all of this should happen, we would likely select another boycott target. The ultimate goal of the Stolen Beauty Campaign is to work for a just, sustainable peace for Palestinians and Israelis, one in which human rights and international law are respected and upheld.
What advice would you have for other people thinking of conducting an anti-corporate campaign on this kind of issue and company?
My advice would be to do a lot of research so you know all the possible moving pieces of your campaign before you start. I would also suggest reaching out to a broad coalition of partners, including Palestinians, anti-occupation Israeli Jews and European activists. Our work has been possible due to the example of, and the advice we have received from, friends in Adalah-NY (http://adalahny.org), the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement (www.bdsmovement.net) and the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, specifically their project Who Profits.
For more information of the Stolen Beauty, see the campaign’s website at http://www.stolenbeauty.org.
Original article at http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=3446