In an effort to combat BDS, the JCRC doubles down on the occupation

The leaders of the American Jewish community continue to struggle with how to respond to the the growing BDS movement. The Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Washington has adopted a particularly strange approach – they want their members to actively support the occupation.

This call is in response the Code Pink "Stolen Beauty" campaign targeting Ahava cosmetics, which are produced in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.

Here’s a recent newsletter the JCRC sent out:

Buy Ahava This Week and Support Stores Being Boycotted for Selling Israeli Products

An anti-Israel organization called Sabeel organized a boycott of a Silver Spring store that sells AHAVA brand Israeli skin care products. In what they call a "Boycott to End the Occupation," protesters on Saturday picketed Ulta Salon, a cosmetics store in downtown Silver Spring. This local effort is part of a global movement called the Boycott Divestment Sanctions for Palestine (BDS) movement, an international effort to delegitimize Israel.

The power of the anti-AHAVA campaign, supported by the international BDS network, should not be under estimated. They have tried to pressure COSCTO stores to remove AHAVA products, and pressured "Sex and the City" star Kristin Davis not to seek renewal of her contract as an AHAVA spokeswoman.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) urges you to support Israel by combating this boycott. What can you do?

(1) Shop! Buy AHAVA at Ulta this week! Please visit the Ulta store in Silver Spring and buy as many AHAVA products as you can. 914 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301-588-8744. If you cannot make it to the Silver Spring store this week, you can shop for AHAVA products on the Ulta website. Although it is not possible to specifically support the Silver Spring store in this way, you can leave a message on the website by clicking on the "Guest Services" tab and leaving a comment that your purchase is made in support of the Silver Spring store’s continued carrying of AHAVA products.

(2) Tell the store manager that you support Ulta’s selling of AHAVA and that you will continue to support their carrying of AHAVA because you enjoy the product. Let them know that there is a bigger, more active, consumer population that strongly opposes the AHAVA boycott and will continue to buy AHAVA products.

(3) Let the JCRC know that you have purchased AHAVA products at the Ulta store in Silver Spring this week. As a thank you for your support of this initiative we will send you a free gift compliments of AHAVA US.

(4) Encourage your friends to join you in taking the first three steps and spread this email message far and wide. For more information about Sabeel DC Metro visit the Friends of Sabeel–North America website. Thank you for standing up for Israel when her name and legitimacy are smeared.

Arielle Farber, Director of Israel & International Affairs, JCRC

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 32 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Jim Holstun says:

    I remember a very effective UFW slogan of the late seventies: “Don’t buy scab lettuce!” An easy thing to avoid!

    Well Ahava does a lot of the work for us–many of their products are distinctly unsavory. For instance, consider the cosmetic appeal of “AHAVA Dead Sea Mineral Mud – Essential Dead Sea Treatment … Rich, black mineral mud, harvested from the banks of the Dead Sea, is comprised of layer upon layer of sedimentary clay formed over thousands of years. …”

    “My darling–you look like you’ve been soaking in Dead Sea silt!”

    • I was just in the Dead Sea on the Jordan side and I smeared the mud all over my body. It didn’t do anything that I noticed. I think the healing power of it is bullshit.

  2. wow.

    thanks for this article, Adam. There’s an Ulta store in my neck of the woods, and there’s an End the Occupation group in the same region.

    We can target Ulta (which is next door to a Target. Which, I understand, is also a target of End the Occupation activity).

    Jonathan Cook’s videos convinced me that BDS could work.

  3. potsherd says:

    Nothing new here. Every time people mention boycott, Zionists brag how they’re going to jump up right now and buy occupation products, just to show those antisemites!

  4. James says:

    desperation… perhaps these folks will eventually understand and appreciate what it feels like for the palestinian people — firsthand…

  5. Debonnaire says:

    Nefarious vermin are trying to undermine The Reich. Here’s what you can do: Kill a Jew! If you don’t see one on the street – call 827-3954 the Jewish Relief Organization and invite some over for for strudel and coffee. Then stab them with a knife. Any kitchen appliance will do. Let the little ones help out. Set a good example. Remember, you’re helping Deutschland! Danke Shain!

  6. hayate says:

    I guess it’s representative that the most well known israeli product in the usa is some cosmetics scam made of mud. But then that is israel.

    :D

  7. Where are Ahava’s West Bank operations located? Are they in one of the new settlement industrial parks that spew so much pollution onto the “Holy Land”? If so, there may be more reasons to boycott their products than just the regular BDS reasons. I found this statement recently at an Israeli rabbi’s wife’s blog:

    One pragmatic reason environmentalism is not a popular topic is that its proponents are often the same people who malign Israel constantly, while those who challenge it are also strong supporters of Israel and Jewish causes

    I’m disturbed about the amount of pollution coming out of the settlements. Unions are joining the BDS movement in the USA. We need to show more environmental orgs with an international presence how bad the settlements are in regard to the environment. I’m actually starting to work on that, getting in touch with Friends of the Earth Middle East and Greenpeace Israel.

    • RE: : “I’m disturbed about the amount of pollution coming out of the settlements.” – Munger

      SEE: Israeli sewage-dumping affects Palestinian villages (VIDEO, 03:12) ~ 07/17/10
      Israeli settlements have been dumping untreated waste directly into a sewage canal that runs through the occupied West Bank, affecting Palestinian villages along its banks. The hazard posed is compounded by the dumping of toxic chemical waste on agricultural land, with villagers reporting a rash of skin diseases and respiratory problems. The Israeli government has banned plans by the Palestinian Authority to build pipes and pumps to treat and divert wastewater away from the affected villages. Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports. (July 17, 2010)
      LINK – link to youtube.com

    • I have just posted a report on my weblog
      link to levantnotes.blogspot.com
      that illustrates this problem (a little bit).
      Israel is using the West Bank as an open frontier where they can do anything.
      Ahava has its operations on the middle western side of the Dead Sea, where they can source their Dead Sea mud, and claim the usual outlandish claims for their products that mos cosmetic companies do.

      • I posted the same video at my blog earlier in the week. I first read about the industrial complex waste dumping here last week and it set me off in a major way. If the settlers are releasing such massive amounts of pollution in the West Bank intentionally, it flies directly in the face of the legitimacy of their claims to be stewards and the rightful heirs of the “Judea and Samaria.”

        Does anyone know how much industrial waste there might be in Ahava’s industrial processes, and how they deal with it?

        • That’s a nice blog. Counters Palin. (I thought all you fellows went around moose-hunting from helicopters).

          Half (the Eastern side) of the West Bank is in a rain shadow, and gets very little rain at any time, hence the Judaean desert. The rest has a Mediterranean climate, which means no regular rain from May to September.

          Ahava’s factory is on the shores of the Dead Sea, which is already massively polluted (the only major water supply comes from the Jordan river) and the extraction of minerals at the southern end has already caused the Sea to dry up and split in half, with the sea level dropping, and the shoreline receding rapidly.

          A good promotion for Ahava might be:

          ‘Buy Ahava! Israel, Jordan and Syria contribute their shit to our products!’

  8. nancykric says:

    We launched the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign a little over one year ago, but the pushback didn’t start for real until we joined forces with Brooklyn for Peace for an AHAVA protest at the Ricky’s on Montague Street in Brooklyn on July 9th. The protest was “covered” by a “journalist” from The Brooklyn Paper, and the piece was picked up by the Brooklyn Courier, The New York Post, and then WPIX Channel 11 TV did a short piece. Now several synagogues in Brooklyn have launched a buycott, and their campaign was picked up by JCRC of Greater Washington. Our slogan is “AHAVA COSMETICS: MADE BY ISRAELI PROFITEERS IN OCCUPIED PALESTINE.” So sad that these people think that supporting the occupation is supporting Israel.

  9. RE: “Tell the store manager that you support Ulta’s selling of AHAVA and that you will continue to support their carrying of AHAVA because you enjoy the product.” – The Jewish Community Relations Committee
    MY COMMENT: Lol! I’m sure the manager will really appreciate having to deal with customers wanting to personally deliver this spiel to him. For me, this would be far worse than the actual boycott. If I had to endure this (G-d forbid), I would do everything possible to see that Ulta came up with a good excuse to phase out AHAVA products!

  10. Taxi says:

    Below is my second spontaneous confrontation with Ahava in the same Los Angeles Mall (the first one happened some eight months ago I think – I shared that incident here on mondo).

    Yeah anyways, so I was this morning walking around my local shopping Mall when I was yet again approached by an Ahava saleswoman with an israeli accent working out of an Ahava-booth in the main thoroughfare. Soon as I saw the label in her hand I said: “I’m sure your product is wonderful but all the ingredients are stolen from Palestine”. She was taken aback for a sec then shot back with venom: “Only an anti-semite will say that!” I quickly reached for my cellphone and took a quick photo of her, read her name out off her name-tag and said: “I’ll be posting your photo on the net with the caption: Offensive Israeli Ahava saleswoman attacks American shopper in Los Angeles”. She then threw the ‘F’ word at me at which point I went straight to Mall Security and lodged a complaint against her in the strongest possible language. Now suddenly her ‘manager’ (another lady with an israeli accent) arrived at Mall security and proceeded to profusely apologize, offering free product etc. I declined her ‘gifts’ and told her that I intended to tell as many people what happened today and would also be strongly encouraging them to boycott everything israeli and not just Ahava. I also told her that she was earning her living from a paymaster who’s stolen the ingredients of the product she sells, and with no remorse murdered its real owners, whole families of them. She took a step back, aghast, saying: “It’s a free country, you’re entitled to your own opinion”. I finished: “It ain’t an opinion, miss. America’s waking up. Go tell it to all your friends here and back in Israel. I left her tight-lipped and grinding her jaw.

    • potsherd says:

      As long as it’s a free country here, which they’re working hard to change.

    • Jim Haygood says:

      Nice work, Taxi. For every specious allegation of antisemitism, there’s a corresponding, credible charge of anti-Americanism on the part of Israelis.

      Why would Israelis hate a generous benefactor which showers them with $3 billion a year, plus bonuses? Precisely because unmerited charity breeds contempt. Like a 32-year-old living in his parents’ basement, the adolescent nation of Israel experiences shame and guilt for continuing to accept (actually, demand) a fat allowance from America, despite having joined the OECD club of rich countries. Israel has nominally grown up and graduated, but can’t manage to cut mommy’s apron strings like a normal country.

      Israel constitutes a pathological case of dependence, retarded emotional development, and compensation for a persecution complex with inchoate, infantile aggression.

      • Taxi says:

        Jim,
        What you say reminds me of the ancient Chinese saying:
        Why do you hate me? I never gave you anything.

      • hayate says:

        “Israel constitutes a pathological case of dependence, retarded emotional development, and compensation for a persecution complex with inchoate, infantile aggression.”

        Now that’s an understatement if there ever was one.

        ;D

    • hayate says:

      Nice one, Taxi. Those freaks need more of that. Much more of it.

    • demize says:

      Good for you. I hear they can be very pushy, I’ve also heard about these Kiosks being some sort of immigration scam.

  11. gsleite says:

    I went to the Ulta Salon website and sent my “support”:

    Hi! I read the JCRC note and came here to say to you that I support the BDS, and I ask to Ulta not sell products made with the suffering of the palestinian people.
    I’m a brazilian guy, but I seek that theme, because the siege, the occupation and the ethnic cleansing it’s a shame. Please, be the right thing and not sell AHAVA products!

    Thank you.

    • saritalr says:

      I’ve done the same thing

      Dear Ulta –
      I wanted to send you an quick note to say that I do not support Ulta stores carrying Ahava products. I used to shop at Ulta, both in Charlotte NC and Silver Spring MD. However, I have stopped making purchases at your company, and will not shop there again until the Ahava products are removed from the shelves. Ahava products are made in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Please stop supporting Israeli abuses.

  12. gsleite says:

    I went to the Ulta Salon website and sent my “support”:

    Hi! I read the JCRC note and came here to say to you that I support the BDS, and I ask to Ulta not sell products made with the suffering of the palestinian people.
    I’m a brazilian guy, but I seek that theme, because the siege, the occupation and the ethnic cleansing it’s a shame. Please, do the right thing and not sell AHAVA products!

    Thank you.

  13. The mall-infesting Israelis are on the same programme as the ‘art students’ and ‘removal companies’ who covered the US before 9/11.

    It can’t be an immigration scam; Israelis get a free pass on that. So it’s probably a means to get a large number of Sayanim (Israel-helpers) in position – for the next false-flag operation.

    If they suddenly disappear, be scared; your town may be targeted for a ‘nuclear dirty bomb’

  14. Inwhosen Ame says:

    great blog Phil, you’re doing the american jewish community a great favor.

  15. sherbrsi says:

    The Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Washington has adopted a particularly strange approach – they want their members to actively support the occupation.

    There’s nothing strange about it. The American Jewish community is not ignorant about the occupation or any other of Israel’s longstanding policies of destroying the Palestinians. It supports it every step of the way.

    Here’s a follow up to the story:

    The Ahava shelves at the Ulta stores in Silver Spring were bare by Monday morning, after the Jewish Community Relations Council sent an alert on Friday, encouraging purchases of the Israeli-made personal care products.

    JCRC’s call came in response to picketing planned at the store on Saturday, calling for a boycott of Ahava.

    The Sabeel DC Metro has been urging Ulta to stop selling products made in the West Bank — or, as Sabeel puts it, “ ‘stolen beauty’ products illegally produced by Israel settlers colonizing the West Bank on land stolen by Palestinian families in violation of International law.”

    That boycott seems to have backfired. One buyer alone, according to sources, purchased more than $1,200 of products.

    Who knew a boycott could be good for an Israeli firm?

  16. nancykric says:

    We have no illusions that we are going to put a dent in AHAVA sales at this point, and on the one-year anniversary of the campaign, the long-expected pushback from the Israel lobby has started, which is an indication that we are succeeding in sullying AHAVA’s reputation and garnering publicity for the boycott. We know that last summer AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories was sniffing around for capital investors–and that the Kristin Davis/Oxfam dust-up (as reported in The New York Post) made investors wary of the company. In the meantime the Dutch Foreign Minister instigated an investigation of the company’s practices, a British MP denounced its fraudulent labeling during a parliamentary session on Israeli settlement products, and a French activist group filed suit against Sephora for carrying AHAVA products in its stores. There are bi-weekly protests at the flagship AHAVA store in Covent Garden, London. Our campaign has been endorsed by dozens of national and international groups. You can check out the Media Room at http://www.stolenbeauty.org to see an archive of press coverage. We’ve only just begun!