The recently released Wikileaks diplomatic cables reveal that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu posited the Goldstone Report and a nuclear Iran as the main existential threats to his country, but the real existential threat to Israel is its own policies.
On November 8, when I stood up in New Orleans at a large gathering of Jewish leaders to tell Netanyahu that illegal West Bank settlements betray Jewish values, I could not have predicted that these words would not only reverberate through the room, but would also shatter the “Israel barrier,” the culture of silencing dissent towards Israel’s flagrant violations of international law that is so pervasive in my community. Supported by our allies at Jewish Voice for Peace, the five of us who disrupted Netanyahu’s speech gave a name to the real cause of Israel’s delegitimization: Israeli policies such as the occupation, the siege of Gaza, and the silencing of dissent. The immediate response in the room was violent—I was actually put in a chokehold and pushed to the ground. But it was too late to silence us, and our message was soon circling the globe. The response to our actions was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve received emails of support from rabbis, cantors, Naomi Klein’s mom, young Palestinians, and Jewish friends with whom I haven’t been “out” on this issue.
Our young, Jewish, and proud voices join the chorus rising from the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and around the world clamoring for justice. On November 20, CODEPINK organizer Nancy Kricorian and I traveled to London for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, where we testified about Ahava’s corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of international law. As the Tribunal announced its findings regarding 12 corporations that are violating international law, including Ahava, blocks away two British activists locked themselves together inside Ahava’s flagship UK store, engaging in a brave act of civil disobedience.
This Monday, November 29, was the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, and in observance activists from LA to Seattle to Holland (LINK to ) coordinated Ahava protests, some of them using our new boycott holiday carols. In South Africa activists lay charges against Ahava at Cape Town Central Police Station. And in Colorado Springs activists were arrested for peacefully demonstrating outside ULTA, a national chain that sells Ahava. Inspired by this action, our Stolen Beauty boycott of Ahava is urging supporters to send letters to ULTA President, CEO and Director Carl “Chuck” Rubin urging him to stop carrying Ahava at ULTA.
Over the past month, our list of endorsers has grown to include 10 rabbis, dozens of international peace groups, and thousands of conscious people working to take the profit out of occupation.
Last night, Jews began the ritual lighting of the Chanukah candles. We light eight candles to celebrate the miracle of fuel that lasted beyond all expectations, and a victory in the face of impossible odds. Today, we have an opportunity to join together in illuminating a path forward towards true equality for all in Israel and Palestine by taking part in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement. As I wrote on Mondoweiss last year, I will again be boycotting Ahava when I do my holiday shopping this year. And I hope you will join me in refusing to buy into the occupation.
Rae Abileah is a Jewish-American of Israeli descent and is a national organizer with CODEPINK Women for Peace and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. She lives in San Francisco, CA and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. She invites you to sign the boycott of Ahava products at www.stolenbeauty.org.