For Immediate Release
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
WASHINGTON - 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
Background on Ahava’s illegal business practices
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
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.
London’s flagship Ahava store has been blockaded five times by human
rights campaigners. 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
Part of a growing international movement
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.”
For more information on the Ahava boycott campaign, go to “Stolen Beauty” www.stolenbeauty.org
more information on Ahava and its involvement in the occupation, go to
“Who Profits from the Occupation?” (A project of The Israeli Coalition
of Women for Peace) www.whoprofits.org/
For more information on the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign, go to Global BDS Movement for Palestine: www.bdsmovement.net/
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CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. CODEPINK rejects foreign policies based on domination and aggression, and instead calls for policies based on diplomacy, compassion and a commitment to international law. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.