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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.

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Tear gas canisters fired from a vehicle mounted launcher during a weekly demonstration in Bil In Photo courtesy of Bil In Popular Committee

The Israeli government and its army have been for years now using the West Bank and Gaza as their testing ground. The Palestinians are their guinea pigs. The Israeli army uses tear gas that would probably be banned in any other countries in the world. They shoot tear gas, directly at protesters, once again, an illegal act. But a very rewarding one. Israel’s security industry is booming. It’s never been this good. Countries all over the world are buying Israel’s expertise in security, crowd control and weaponry every day. Israeli soldiers are training other countries commandos all over the planet”[1]

From the blog, Bil’in: A Village of Palestine, 02/01/11

Jawaher Abu Rahma - Killed by teargas inhalation on 31/12/10 - Photo by Oren Ziv, Active Stills

Bassem Abu Rahma - Killed by an impact wound from a Teargas canister fired at him while demonstrating in Bil In in April 2009 - Photo from Active Stills

On New Year’s Eve 2010, whilst much of the world was celebrating, over a thousand people demonstrated in the Palestinian village of Bil’in against Israel’s encroachment on the village’s land, Israeli tear gas and rubber bullets rained down on the protesters and Jawaher Abu Rahma, who had joined the march to the apartheid wall and retreated to the sidelines after the first Israeli volleys of gas, choked to death as gas enveloped the village.

A report from Bil’in residents said that “Israeli soldiers fired tear-gas from the moment protestors entered their sight. It is obvious that for the army, the mere presence of unarmed demonstrators is reason enough to use chemical weapons against them.”[2]. Read the rest of this entry »

Police arrive at Ahava, Monmouth Street

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 »

given by Corporate Watch at the Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair:

http://sheffield.indymedia.org.uk/2010/05/451860.html

Despite the fact that there is -as demonstrated by this web-site- clearly a lot of more work to be done for people campaigning for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel, a recent visit to the Jordan Valley confirmed that there are plenty of reasons for the BDS movement to take stock of its successes. Read the rest of this entry »

“Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the Apartheid Wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation.”
Abdullah Abu Rahmah, In a letter written from his prison cell, January 1st 2010

The last year has seen an increase in repression of Palestinian grassroots activists involved in struggles against Israel’s wall and Israeli settlements and who advocate the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In September 2009 Mohamed Othman, an activist with the Stop the Wall (www.stopthewall.org) campaign was arrested on suspicion of ‘dealing with foreign enemies’ and incitement. Mohamed spent four months in jail, two months awaiting trial and two months in administrative detention (without charge). On 24th December Jamal Jumaa, Coordinator of Stop the Wall was arrested. Mohamed and Jamal were released on 12th January 2010 after international pressure. Jamal was never charged while Mohamed’s charges were dropped after two months. In February 2010 the Stop the Wall office in Ramallah was raided by the Israeli army and computer hard drives and documents were taken. Read the rest of this entry »

In January 2009, there was a solidarity demonstration in London regarding the Israeli bombardment of Gaza from 27th December 2008 until 18th January 2009. At the demo, many people were arrested, the majority being young Asians below the age of 19, some as young as 12. The police used indiscriminate baton charges, kettles and heavy surveillance. Their repressive tactics began to take a less visible form in the months following, with numerous dawn raids, denial of communication with solicitors and physical and psychological abuse. Almost all have now been charged with “violent disorder” and so far, 10 people have been jailed for 15 months to 3 years. In this climate of intimidation and isolation, and in spite of flimsy evidence, 50 people have pled guilty and the sentencing began on 12th February at Isleworth Crown Court. Read the rest of this entry »

Israeli companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine are increasingly subject to blacklisting and divestment due to the growing pressure exerted boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The movement of Palestinian organisations and solidarity activists pushes for divestment from Israeli companies involved in and profiting from the occupation and in recent months has seen millions of dollars withdrawn from Israeli companies, in particular Israeli military contractor Elbit Systems, a company involved in the construction of the apartheid wall and connected to the manufacture of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) , or drones. Read the rest of this entry »

A couple of weeks ago, on 28th January 2010, Corporate Watch wrote an open letter to Cargoflora, a freight company, involved in the distribution of imported flowers to UK supermarkets . The company’s partner, J and E Distributors Ltd, based in the same office as Cargoflora, advertises that it imports flowers from Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Anti-militarist campaign Target Brimar has begun 22 days of protest to commemorate not only those killed in Gaza during the Israeli attacks last year, but also all those killed by UK and US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world. Brimar is a Manchester-based company whose targeting display systems are used by UK, US and Israeli forces.

Link: www.targetbrimar.org.uk/?page_id=180

December 19th saw the international day of action against Ahava, an Israeli settlement-based spa products company that is known for exploiting Palestinian resources and land. In London, around 20 campaigners held a protest at the company’s store in Covent Garden. Besides the police, protesters were this time confronted by some Zionists demonstrating ‘in support of Ahava.’

Link: www.stolenbeauty.org

Origial article at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3505

Brighton’s Smash EDO has launched a new campaign against Barclays, with a first picket at the bank’s Brighton branch on North Street on 28th November. Pickets also took place in Wrexham and Falmouth, while in Cambridge anonymous activists wrote “Barclays – £7bn invested in arms trade” in six foot letters above their local branch. The group is calling for autonomous actions against Barclays Bank to force it to cease providing ‘market maker’ services on the NYSE stock exchange for ITT Corporation, which owns Brighton-based arms manufacturer EDO MBM/ITT.

Link: www.smashedo.org.uk/target-barclays.html
Action report: www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/11/442430.html

Original article at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3475

The Carmel Agrexco depot in Hayes, Middlesex, was blockaded for three days (6th – 8th November) by Palestine solidarity campaigners to raise awareness over the continued sale of illegal settlement produce in the UK. Protesters endured freezing temperatures,and violence and aggression from both Carmel staff and the police.

Five protesters were arrested. Link: www.bigcampaign.org/index.php?mact=CGBlog

The mass mobilisation against September’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh was met with a characteristically brutal response from US Homeland ‘Security’. In many ways, police repression of UK protests pales in comparison to American political policing, with activists being routinely arrested under various terrorism-related charges and local and federal law enforcement agencies rolling out military style operations, complete with temporary detention facilities and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars each. The Pittsburgh police, however, may well have distinguished themselves as hitting a new low in the erosion of US civil liberty. Alongside US police staples such as rubber bullets, tear gas and ‘flash bang’ stun grenades, the Pittsburgh authorities unleashed an acoustic weapon, one of a new generation of ‘non-lethal’ military devices, used not only to disperse and intimidate protesters, but to gain control over their behaviour. Read the rest of this entry »

In August 2009, Corporate Watch reported on a lawsuit being brought in Canada by residents of the Palestinian village of Bil’in against construction company Green Park, which has been building condominiums on the villagers’ land to sell to Israeli settlers. A Quebec judge has now ruled that the case could, in theory, be pursued, although in Israel rather than Quebec. Read the rest of this entry »

In 2005, just after the publication of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid, Palestinians began calling for an international boycott campaign against Veolia, a company involved in the Citypass Consortium, a scheme to build a tramline on occupied territory in the West Bank. Veolia is a huge multinational, that arguably has the biggest financial commitment of any international company to Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank. Read the rest of this entry »

First Published in September 2009

by Jack Anderson, Anti-Militarist Network (AMN)

If you’re anything like me, it wouldn’t be exactly revolutionary to declare that this century’s anti-war activism hasn’t been all that successful.

Similarly, it wouldn’t take a great leap of imagination to argue that, despite being the face of ‘benevolent interventionism’, NATO has been and remains a de-stabilizing and dangerous source of ruling class violence. It was with both these facts in mind that a handful of activists in late 2008 in Edinburgh decided to put together the UK’s first Anti-Militarist Gathering. Read the rest of this entry »

The Green Park construction company is engaged in building illegal settlements in the West Bank, notably, the settlements of Mattiyahu East and Modi’in Illit, which have been built on land annexed from the Palestinian village of Bil’in, by the Israeli apartheid wall. Read the rest of this entry »

As Palestine solidarity campaigners continue to hold protests and take direct action against Israeli exporter Carmel-Agrexco, the Israeli government tries to ‘confuse’ the boycott campaign against the company by allowing it to export flowers grown in Gaza in a Valentine-special PR exercise.


‘Goodwill gesture’?

On 12th February, two days prior to Valentine’s Day, the Israeli army allowed 25,000 carnation flowers grown by Palestinian growers in the Gaza Strip to cross the border into Israel, through the Kerem Shalom crossing, and be shipped to the Netherlands by Agrexco in time for Valentine. According to the Israeli army, the clearance of the carnations – the first export permitted out of besieged Gaza for more than a year– was in response to a request from the Dutch government, which has apparently been promoting the production of carnations grown in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military spokesman Major Peter Lerner, of the military’s Civil Co-ordination Office, claimed the move was a “goodwill gesture” to the Dutch government, a statement that was later transformed in some media reports to “a goodwill gesture from the Israeli government to the people of Gaza.” Palestinian farmers, however, saw the move merely as “propaganda” and “a publicity stunt”. According to Abdel-Karim Ashour, director of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee in Gaza, “What happened today is only propaganda. It is nothing. The season is almost finished now.”

Too little, too late

The ‘gesture’ came too late to salvage the carnations crop, most of which had either rotted or been fed to sheep. About 70 percent of Gaza’s carnation crop had already been lost due to the Israeli siege, which had prevented growers from importing seeds and pesticides early enough and from exporting their flowers. The situation worsened further following Israel’s brutal 22-day aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza earlier this year. The losses in flower sales suffered by growers in Gaza, who used to export 37 to 40 million carnations a year, are estimated to have already reached $4 million. Major Peter Lerner clearly stated that there were no plans to allow further exports beyond those for Valentine’s Day. The blockade was not lifted for vegetables or Gaza’s traditionally high-quality strawberries. Israel has not allowed any exports from Gaza since June 2007. Further, the carnations were unlikely to reach Europe in time for Valentine’s Day. By Agrexco’s own admission, the flowers would most probably not have been sold on Valentine. “It’s borderline,” said Ishai Sharon of Agrexco in Aalsmeer, Holland. “But even if they don’t make it in time, they can still be sold to Russia and Eastern Europe for [the International] Women’s Day on 8th March.”

Produce of ….?

According to Agrexco, the Gazan flowers will be sold with the label “Product of Gaza Strip”. However, it is often harder to detect the source of flowers than of fruit, vegetables and herbs. Many Agrexco flowers grown in Israel or the Occupied Territories are sold on or packed in Holland and labelled accordingly. It is widely known now that some of the ‘Israeli’ fresh produce exported through Agrexco is grown in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. In a court case in November 2004, the general manager of Agrexco UK at that time, Amos Orr, testified that his company markets 60 to 70 percent of the agricultural produce grown in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. Agrexco Agricultural Export Company Ltd. markets most of Israel’s exports of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. 50 percent of the company’s shares are owned by the Israeli government and 25 percent by an Israeli settlers cooperative called Tnuva, although a ministerial committee last year decided to privatise it (see here).

The company is worth half a billion Israeli Shekels (approximately £78m) and employs about 500 people. Agrexco’s biggest fresh produce brand is Carmel. Other brand names include Jaffa, Coral and Jordan Plains. The company’s subsidiaries include Agrexco (France), Agrexco (US), Carmexco (Italy), Eclectic, Carmel Cor, LACHS and Dalia (Germany). For more information on Agrexco, see here.

‘We don’t want your bloodstained flowers’

Under the slogan “Don’t flirt with Israeli Apartheid – Boycott Israeli goods”, the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign (BIG) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) called for a ‘mass picket’ at the Agrexco depot in Hayes, Middlesex, on 7th February, as part of an international week of action against Agrexco. About 70 protesters gathered at the warehouse, surrounded by a massive number of cops, who blockaded the depot since early morning. On 12th Feb, a group of 15 women locked themselves to the gates of Carmel-Agrexco’s depot to stop the delivery of Valentines roses. They were met with heavy force from security and police. Emma Goldman, a member of the London Anarchafeminist Kollective, said: “This Valentine’s Day, women in Palestine will be struggling to piece their society together against the brute force of the occupation. Carmel-Agrexco, a state-owned company, is at the heart of Israel’s colonisation and exploitation of Palestinian land.” On 23th February, a small protest was held at the London headquarters of Apax Partners, a UK-based private equity giant that holds a majority stake in Israeli agricultural co-op Tnuva, which owns 25 percent of Agrexco Agricultural Export Company. Earlier in the morning, an anonymous protester had D-locked the building’s main door, causing some disruption to the baffled employees arriving to work (see here).

The campaign against Carmel-Agrexco in the UK has been growing ever since seven activists blockaded the company’s depot in Hayes in November 2004 for over 11 hours, using metal fencing. The ensuing prosecution of the blockaders failed after campaigners argued that Agrexco was ancillary to Israeli war crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001. In September 2005, a Judge ruled that Agrexco (UK) must prove that their business was lawful. Charged with proving that the lawfulness of their business, Carmel-Agrexco withdrew their case. The acquittal of the seven activists before they were able to present their defence, however, meant that the court did not have to rule on the legality of Agrexco-Carmel’s involvement in the supply of produce from illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Since then, dozens of blockades have occurred each year; Carmel’s offices have been subject to extensive damage by protesters; and their depot occupied. Yet, the company has not been willing to take prosecutions against campaigners for fear of having their business practices exposed and questioned in court.

For more on the actions against Carmel Agrexco in the UK over the years, see Indymedia UK’s special topic page.

Original articale at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3209

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.

Palestine_CW_report (PDF)

In small and multifarious ways, we can, despite appearances, still win. From the resounding defence of the Camp for Climate Action against police incursions last summer to Smash EDO’s victories on Brighton’s streets and in the courts, there are still explosions of hopeful defiance. Campaign Spotlight is a new fixture in the Corporate Watch newsletter. Through its portrayal of the wide variety of campaigns struggling for social and ecological justice, this column seeks to demonstrate that, whilst imagination is one of the first acts of defiance, action is its mainstay and active resistance persists and flourishes, even as the citadels of power, the state and the corporation, become increasingly powerful. Campaign Spotlight hopes to carve another hole in the prison wall, showing that resistance against corporate power, rapacious exploitation, ecocide and deadening consumerism is still everywhere AND it’s still fertile. Read the rest of this entry »

Over 400 people took part in a mass demonstration in Brighton on 14th October with the aim of closing the EDO MBM/ITT arms manufacturing factory. Despite a huge police operation, protesters managed to block a main road, while others managed to get to the factory through the woods to decorate it with red paint. EDO MBM/ITT was forced to close for the day. Read the rest of this entry »

An occupation of the roof of the Raytheon oces in Bristol has reached its second week despite sub-zero temperatures. The direct action began in protest at Raytheon’s supply of weapons used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Anti-militarist activists have been targeting Raytheon since October and have formed the Smash Raytheon campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

VisionOnTV and Corporate Watch host a video feed of grassroots films about resistance to corporate power. Every month we will showcase one of these films. All films are collected at http://corporatewatch.visionon.tv.

This month we have chosen Boycott Carmel-Agrexco, a short film about the campaign against Carmel-Agrexco. Carmel-Agrexco is an Israeli agricultural export company importing fresh produce into the UK from Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank (see http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3192). The film features interviews with Palestinians working for Carmel-Agrexco and direct actions against the company in the UK. Watch the film here.

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

Human rights activists shut down the Carmel-Agrexco depot in Hayes, Middlesex, for 12 hours on 28 September, 2008, as part of a week of action called by the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign. Both gates to the depot were blocked, with four protesters locking themselves inside a cage blocking one gate, while another was D-locked to the other. At least 14 trucks were prevented from entering the premises during the day. Read the rest of this entry »

An Israeli ministerial committee has decided that Agrexco Agricultural Export Company Ltd. is to be privatised. The company, which is worth half a billion Shekel (nerly £78m) and employees some 500 people, markets most of Israel’s exports of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. Agrexco’s biggest fresh agricultural produce brand is Carmel. British supermarkets account for 60% of Carmel-Agrexco’s total exports. Read the rest of this entry »

On October 15th, another mass demonstration against the arms trade will be held in Brighton. The Smash EDO campaign is calling for groups from around the country to come to the ‘Smash EDO, Shut ITT’ demonstration, aimed at closing down the Brighton arms manufacturers. Read the rest of this entry »

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Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Handbook

Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Handbook