Disney heir on Ahava: ‘I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources’

on 27 Comments

Haaretz reports:

Abigail Disney, a descendant of one of the Disney Company founders, has announced that she is disclaiming her share of the family’s investment in the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, due to the fact that it is located in the West Bank and is engaged in the “exploitation of occupied natural resources.”

Disney announced Monday that she will donate the profits and a sum equal to the worth of her shares to “organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.” Disney, 52, a filmmaker and businesswoman, is the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, who co-founded The Walt Disney Company with his brother Walt.

Her move, however, has more of a symbolic significance than a financial one. Shamrock Holdings, the family firm in which she is a partner, has demonstrated a distinct interest in investing in Israel, as evidenced by the wide-ranging activity of its Israeli affiliate, Shamrock Israel.

According to various media reports, Shamrock has invested some $400 million in Israeli companies – about a fifth of its capital. It has invested at least $12 million in Ahava, which is based in Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli settlement located on the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

After informing her family and partners in the firm of her decision, Disney released the following statement:

“Recent evidence from the Israeli Civil Administration documents that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories sources mud used in its products from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea, which is in direct contravention to provisions in the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Convention forbidding the exploitation of occupied natural resources.

“While I will always hold my colleagues and coworkers in the highest regard, I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

“Because of complicated legal and financial constraints I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time, but will donate the corpus of the investment as well as the profits accrued to me during the term of my involvement to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.”

Haaretz adds:

Shamrock also has a stake in the Teva Naot footwear company, which is located in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, and in the Orad company, which makes, among other things, control and monitoring technology for the separation barrier running through the West Bank.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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27 Responses

  1. Citizen
    July 16, 2012, 11:06 am

    Good for Mickey and Donald! Now, Uncle Sam should rip off his uncomfortable and ridiculous yarmaka and don the old Mickey ears.

    • Citizen
      July 16, 2012, 11:09 am

      Who’s the leader of the club
      That’s made for you and me
      M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
      Hey there, Hi there, Ho there
      You’re as welcome as can be
      M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

      Mickey Mouse
      Mickey Mouse
      Forever let us hold our banner high
      High High High

      Come along and sing a song
      And join the jamboree
      M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

      Mickey Mouse club
      We’ll not flub the Zionist dub
      We’ll be new just faces
      High High High High

      We’ll do things fair
      We’ll go against AIPAC places
      All around the world
      We’ll go marching

  2. chinese box
    July 16, 2012, 11:07 am

    Great news!

    • Krauss
      July 16, 2012, 2:13 pm

      Good news indeed and I was smiling to myself as I can already see the coming attacks on her(in veiled forms of course). Inevitably they will invoke her grandfather(who had dicey feelings about Jews).

      The bloodargument will reappear! Aha, your [insert dead-since-long-ago-relative here] wasn’t too pleased with da Joooos… it appears you are trying your best to maintain the generational tradition!

  3. American
    July 16, 2012, 11:28 am

    Well at least that’s something.
    I can understand there may be legal hurdles in the way Shamrock was set up originally that prevent her from being able to divest and from forcing any divestment.
    But still, yes her statement is worth a lot. And being a ‘Disney’ makes it carry more public weight and influence.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 16, 2012, 11:34 am

      “I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time” probably means it’s bundled in some way that makes it inaccessible for certain time periods.

  4. seafoid
    July 16, 2012, 11:50 am

    Ahava will die at the hands of BDS.

    Of all the Israeli companies that make money from oppression it is the most obnoxious. Selling feel good cosmetics manufactured using raw materials that are sourced at gunpoint. All it has to defend itself is the antisemitism slur. Image is everything for cosmetics. It is a bullshit industry anyway but Ahava takes the crap to a totally different level.

    • Citizen
      July 16, 2012, 12:34 pm

      seafoid, arguably, nothing takes said crap to a higher level than the baby boy foreskins hospitals routinely sell (after charging for the useless & painful service to insured folks and Medicaid) to cosmetic cream companies across the USA to be sold at great profit as cosmetic face cream.

      • seafoid
        July 16, 2012, 4:41 pm

        Is that for real?

      • ToivoS
        July 16, 2012, 8:05 pm

        baby boy foreskins hospitals routinely sell … to cosmetic cream companies across the USA to be sold at great profit as cosmetic face cream.

        I have heard this claim a few times before but always assumed it was some kind of urban legend. Are you sure? If so, is there a secondary market in smegma? That would make a great face cream.

      • Citizen
        July 17, 2012, 8:00 am

        One of the most publicized examples of the foreskin-for-sale trend involves a skin cream that has been promoted by none other than Oprah Winfrey. SkinMedica’sa face cream, which costs over $100 US for a 0.63 oz bottle, is used by many high-profile celebrities (such as Winfrey and Barbara Walters) as an alternative to cosmetic surgery. Winfrey has promoted the SkinMedica product several times on her show, and her website, which raves, there’s “a new product that boosts collagen production and can rejuvenate skin called TNS Recovery Complex. TNS is comprised from six natural human growth factors found in normal healthy skin…the factors are engineered from human foreskin!”

        During the show, the doctor promoting SkinMedica cream warned that some people may have ethical questions regarding using a product that is made from the derivative of foreskins (to which Winfrey made no response). Why ethical questions? The foreskins come from circumcisions, and male circumcision is now a controversial topic. In a discussion on Mothering.com, one querent asked, “If the cream was made from the bi-product of baby afro-American clitoral skin, would Oprah still be promoting it?” There’s no answer to that question on Mothering or Winfrey’s site, and Winfrey declined The Tyee’s request for an interview. http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/foreskins-in-oprahs-facecream.html

        As of 2006, a Canadian doctor said he routinely charges at least $250 for cutting off the baby boy’s foreskin, which is analogous to a female’s clitoris. (In many US states Medicaid pays for this painful and medically-useless routine baby boy mutilation).
        Aftermarket: Dr. Tinari estimates that between the surgery and the foreskin’s resale value, each foreskin is worth approximately $100,000. http://thetyee.ca/News/2006/07/25/Circumcision/

        Being circumcised when a baby is like being born blind.

  5. LanceThruster
    July 16, 2012, 11:55 am

    This is certainly encouraging news as I remember hearing Bernie the Attorney talk about dinners with his first wife’s family in Pacific Palisades CA. They were well-off stock cut from Disney family money and even the trust fund kids talked about how much better they were than the hoi polloi. He said their basic attitude was that their wealth was because they deserved/earned it, whereas those unable to reach similar pinnacles of financial prosperity were doomed by nothing more sinister than their own laziness and lack of ingenuity. It was their destiny to be the leaders of their inferiors.

    He said they, almost to a person, disgusted him with their jewel-encrusted rose-colored blinders.

    Am I quite pleased to learn of Abigail Disney’s commendable sense of integrity.

  6. YoungMassJew
    July 16, 2012, 12:00 pm

    This company truly sucks. The birthright bus of course had to stop here at their sh**ty little shop on the Dead Sea. The product is such a gimmick anyway even without taking into account it being on occupied land. I’ve even had an Israeli women try to sell me Ahava’s sh**y cream at the South Shore Plaza Mall in Braintree, MASS.

    • MHughes976
      July 16, 2012, 12:20 pm

      I had the same experience in a mall in Nashua NH. I did notice that this was one of a row of stalls in the aisle between the main shops. All the others had bright banners proclaiming who they were. The Ahava stall was anonymous, clearly because they were aware of the possibility of unfriendly reactions. The comparable stall in my local UK big town has disappeared.

    • Mooser
      July 16, 2012, 12:29 pm

      “The birthright bus of course…”

      So the “birthright” trip to Israel sort of backfired on you, YMJ? If so, very commendable!

    • seafoid
      July 16, 2012, 12:50 pm

      “This company truly sucks.The birthright bus of course had to stop here”

      Were the Birthrighters themselves already sucking at this point ?

      • ColinWright
        July 16, 2012, 1:28 pm

        I like “The birthright bus stops here.”

        I’m not sure what that would mean, but it certainly sounds definitive.

        The sort of thing to say to an Israel-supporter to gain some time.

      • YoungMassJew
        July 16, 2012, 5:13 pm

        Mainly the Israelis who live in their rude, stuck up, and unfriendly bubble. The American Jewish kids had some decent liberal values, but I think it was fake and contrived for the most part. For example, after visiting the “Bedouin Tent” a certain percentage of the kids made fun of/looked down upon their culture in a similar way as white Americans would degrade Native Americans. They, in my opinion, seemed to degrade the tribal elder by mocking his accent and culture, even though everyone loved the food they kindly cooked for us at their home. Unbelievable.

      • seafoid
        July 17, 2012, 8:43 am

        Could you discuss how you felt with anyone else on the trip? That sort of ignorance always gets to me.

      • YoungMassJew
        July 18, 2012, 12:46 am

        I mean not really. No one really cared that much, about 1 or 2 people. They just wanted to have a good time.
        Well in the spirit of not being repetitive, why don’t I just post my entire birthright trip that Phil (cough,cough) didn’t post as he chose some Harvard kids instead. Here it is.

        Birthright January 2012

        This is my story about my Birthright experience of January 2012. Note: This was before my recent switch, for lack of a better word, to Anti-Zionism.

        As I embarked upon my travel to Israel I looked forward to having a good time “free of politics.” At least this was how the trip was sold. I wanted to see the country for what it was and withhold my full judgment until actually visiting the country for myself. I had been contemplating going to the country since I was eligible for the free trip. I kept putting off going because Israel kept coming up in the news and the news was never good. The right-wing Likud government had cemented itself firmly in power and the country seemed rapidly heading in the wrong direction. Now I had for a while believed that the country was not what it claimed to be. After reading, more like skimming due to mental exhaustion, the book “Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman In The Occupied Territories” (Updated and Revised) by Anna Baltzer in the summer of 2008 before my first semester of college, I already had a strong feeling that things weren’t right in the Jewish state. However, I kept saying to myself that Israel is just like many other countries. Sometimes it does bad things, and sometimes it does good things. Her experience just shows that Jews are no different than any other people in their capacity to commit acts of injustice on another people. I wanted to see the country for itself before jumping to conclusions.

        During the years of 2008-2012 I kept hearing about increasingly fascist and anti-democratic legislation coming out of the Knesset. I kept thinking “How could Jews go down this road?” Shouldn’t they know not to take it to that level?” As I discussed this with my family they ignored me and didn’t really care. It’s not that they’re bad people. It’s just that they don’t care about politics in general. I kept sharing with one of my uncles, who I’m relatively close with, the news about the laws being passed in Israel. He is a highly intelligent man who has a medical as well as a law degree. He kept telling me to “Just go on the free trip” and stop over-thinking and analyzing the situation. He even told me that he has a patient at his medial office who is a Pro-Palestinian activist who told him that his nephew should go on the trip, since there is “no politics”. So after constantly worrying about whether I should go on the trip I finally decided to bite the bullet and went…

        Upon the initial flight to Israel on the plane to Ben-Gurion airport I felt true joy that I was finally headed to “my homeland.” I was finally going to see the country that I only hear about, getting in trouble of course, on the BBC. Maybe I should give the place a chance I thought to myself. I’m sure it’s a normal country like the United States. As I landed in Israel and hopped onto the birthright bus to our first hotel the weather was mild, certainly not warm, but mild for the winter. I thought how great it was to be in a place that has mild winters for a change. I had a headache and was a little nauseous from the long flight, but I was nonetheless excited to be in a new country and was optimistic about embarking on the experience. On the bus to our first hotel, they played “Coming Home” ft. Skylar Grey. How cliché.

        Now I don’t remember the names of every hotel and historical ruins I saw on the 10 day trip sponsored by the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) KESHER under the umbrella of Birthright. I’m sure you don’t want me to bore you with un-noteworthy details about the type of hotels we stayed at or the quality of the shawarma we ate at almost every stop either. You are probably interested in the types of people I met along the journey, such as the tour guides as well as Israeli soldiers and students who study at Israeli universities. Furthermore, you are probably interested in understanding the political landscape and type of discourse in the society. So this will be the crux of my story.

        First of all, the tour guide for our group was a nice man in his 30s, who was well spoken and optimistic. Now of course this is the job of a tour guide, but I was genuinely pleased to have a guide who seemed open minded and tolerant of different perspectives. This certainly was not what I was expecting as I had heard horror stories of tour guides who tried to indoctrinate their group to his or her political viewpoint. My only issue with the kind gentleman was his continual use of the phrase “The Land of Israel.” This denotes a biblical justification for the land, although the man himself was a secular Jew. It appeared that he was either unaware of the phrase’s connotation or was simply repeating what he was told to say by someone higher up. I genuinely don’t know which it was.

        As for the students and soldiers themselves, well at least for the American Jewish students, I felt a pretty close bond with the people I met. These were undergraduate students like myself who wanted to enjoy a vacation in the Holy Land. Most were apathetic when it came to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but I was not surprised. Most of my generation is pretty apathetic as we have a reputation for being vain and into materialism. One of the young adults I met, however, was into politics and was keenly aware of the conflict. She happened to be a member of J-Street which promotes itself as a Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace organization. She was to meet up with this organization after the birthright experience had ended by engaging in some sort of activism in Jerusalem. We had a good conversation about the conflict on the bus ride from Jerusalem to Sderot. We both agreed how “it was a shame” that Israel hasn’t lived up to its professed values like justice and equality. She genuinely believed in the platform of J-Street and in fact had a high profile position at the chapter of her university. She, like me, at this point did not know the full extent of the horrors of the Israeli state. I wonder whether she knows how bad it truly is seven months later.

        I also met a kid who attend/ed a prestigious Ivy League university. We will call him Mr. Prep, as his identity was based on how he dressed as well as how others talked about him/perceived him. Now this young man was highly into the Zionist cause and felt like he needed to defend Israel at every turn. I remember at one of the rest stops I was talking about the conflict in pretty general terms while criticizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. I don’t even remember what exactly it was the got him so riled up. All I remember was him getting in my face saying and I’m paraphrasing “You know what Mearsheimer and Walt wrote[about Israel] isn’t true!” He kept pestering me with supposed facts to debunk their thesis and barely let me get a word in. Now at the point I decided not to engage this person because, although I heard about their book, I only knew really what others had said about it, which wasn’t positive. I knew that it sold very well in Arab countries, but that was basically it. I now deeply regret not reading it as it could have prevented me from going on Sheldon Adelson’s dime.

        Another incident with this guy happened at an olive oil facility/factory in the Occupied Golan Heights. As our group unexpectedly went into the place (unexpectedly because it wasn’t on the itinerary, but we were supposedly ahead of schedule so the chaperones decided to go here) we sat for a lecture by the owner of the place. We went into a dark dimly lit room with wooden benches to hear the owner of the factory talk about his olive oil. Now he certainly talked about his olive oil. However he inappropriately invoked politics into the conversation. This was the first time on the trip I heard something overtly political and incendiary from an individual of high status. He told our group to go back home and tell everyone that Israel doesn’t kill children and what peace activists say isn’t true. Then he said he agreed with Newt Gingrich that the Palestinians are “an invented people.” Holy s**t! I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I just heard the guy say something completely absurd. If you don’t want to say it’s racist, it’s certainly extreme bigotry by denying an entire nation its identity and history in Palestine. Does he not know that the term “Israeli” was an invented nationality in 1948? I wanted to speak up and had the urge to do so. However, I also knew that our visit to Tel Aviv was the next day, and I didn’t want to cause a scene and possibly get kicked off the trip without being able to go to the city that everyone was just dying to experience as it was built up as the highlight of the trip due to its attraction to young people. As I walked out of the room after the lecture, I talked about what I just heard to one of the American kids on the trip who I had developed a friendship with. I told him I couldn’t believe we all just heard a rant from an openly bigoted man and no one said a word. I would later describe this factory owner here at Mondoweiss.net as a sort of Israeli-KKK type of person. I wished I had called him that to his face during the trip. Now Mr. Prep overhears my conversation with my friend on the trip and says, and I’m paraphrasing “You’re talking about Israeli war crimes, aren’t you? Why don’t you talk about Saudi Arabia’s war crimes?…You must have been bullied in school for being Jewish, weren’t you? I’m really sorry you were bullied.” Now I tried to reason with this guy by telling him no, actually, I wasn’t bullied for being Jewish, [just some ignorant comments on Facebook here and there that people thought was funny that I was able to brush off and stopped once I graduated high school]. My public high school had a sizable Jewish population so obviously no one for that manner was “bullied for being Jewish.” Now at this point I still didn’t know the full extent of the war crimes of the Israeli pariah state so I really didn’t know how to address “Saudi Arabia’s war crimes.” An interesting and noteworthy fact about Mr. Prep. I would later see him on Facebook having his picture taken with Mitt Romney! God knows what he is up to now.

        Finally, with respect of the Israelis I met on the trip. Our group’s interactions with Israelis on the trip consisted of meeting both young Israeli soldiers, a guard, as well as students who attend university who are of our age. Now keep in mind the fact that I realize these are soldiers who truly believe in the cause of Zionism, or at least blindly follow the cause. However, I was unable to relate to these fellow Jews whatsoever. I felt like I was invisible to them. It’s like they built up a wall between themselves and everyone else they interacted with. They only wanted to talk to the other soldiers, not so much the American Jews. I don’t know if it’s that they were stuck up/arrogant or were blinded by the Judeo-Fascist society they willingly partake in. Now look. I’m a shy guy. I’m not the most outgoing person for sure. However I can get women’s attention relatively easily. I’m not the most attractive guy, but certainly not the most unattractive either. Let’s say I’m an average, genuine, nice guy who doesn’t have problems getting attention from the ladies. Not one Israeli woman during the entire trip checked me out as far as I could tell. It’s not that I’m arrogant and am always waiting to be checked out, but since Jewish women in America check me out from time to time walking down the street of a Jewish neighborhood, you would think I would be checked out at least once. Nope. Not even once. I think this demonstrates the chasm and time warp between American society from that of the fascist “always under a threat, need to watch your back mentality because you never know who the enemy is” society of Israel. Israeli society lives in a 19th century mindset with increasingly fundamentalist religious undertones. Even the smell of the country was weird as if everything has been sanitized and the crimes of the Israeli military are a well guarded secret from ignorant visitors.
        I’ll finish by saying that it took me a couple of months after the trip to fully understand what Israel really is, that of a country that incorporates elements of Apartheid South Africa and fascist states like Nazi Germany, Spain, and Italy of the mid 20 century. I wish I didn’t have to go on the trip to come to this conclusion. I wished I had known that Mearsheimer and Walt is true for many years. I wished I had fully contemplated and understood at the deepest level of my conscience the enormity of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians as documented by Baltzer back when I purchased her book at a Barnes and Noble in NYC in the summer of 2008. I wished I had read pages 363 -64 in which she writes, “Israel receives more aid from the United States than do sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined” (www.ifamericansknew.org)“… although Israel is the highest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, it is the only country that is not held accountable for the way it uses the aid” (Baltzer 363-4). Maybe my story, though, can serve as a warning to other Jewish Americans before unknowingly traveling to a country whose ideals and values are stuck in the 19th century.

        YoungMassJew is a student and newly-convinced Anti-Zionist young Jewish American. He currently studies psychology at a liberal arts university in New England.

  7. YoungMassJew
    July 16, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Yes, it was a lady standing in the middle of the mall between the main shops. Looks like someone has something to hide from the authorities as they’ve smuggled in the Ziocaine!

  8. HarryLaw
    July 16, 2012, 2:50 pm

    Here is part of a letter I received recently From Wirral Trading Standards Dept regarding a complaint I made to Gloucester magistrates court [ on hold at present]. “The Cosmetic Product [safety] Regulations 2008 [as amended] require the country of origin to be clearly labelled as it is manufactured outside the European Economic Area [EEA]. No doubt the company will argue that they believe themselves to be in Israel and have therefore satisfied the requirement,however as the territory is disputed the sensible course of action would be to refer to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] guidance on voluntary labelling of produce. As there does not appear to be a safety issue with this product the course of action that this department has taken is to refer the matter to Gloucestershire Trading standards as the Head office of Ahava Ltd are based there and can advise accordingly”. Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of this department. Derek Payet Trading Standards Strategic Manager. This reply is too ludicrous for words first, It is not disputed Territory, Second, the country of origin is a “must” an imperative not a voluntary requirement as hinted at by trading standards, it is also a strict liability offence , here is how the Dept of Business Innovation and Skills [BIS] interpret this in their guide to the Consumer Protection [safety ] Regulations 2008, Country of Origin- Regulation 12[1] [a]

    45 The 2008 Regulations introduced a requirement to label the country of origin if the product came from a non-EEA country; that is from outside the European Economic Area, comprising the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. This indication should not be misleading. According to Section 36 of the Trade Description Act 1968 (TDA) goods are deemed to have been manufactured or produced in the country in which they last underwent a treatment or process resulting in a substantial change. The definition of ‘substantial change’ is not given but trading standards officers have interpreted this as meaning the mixing of ingredients and not just filling into containers. Fortunately the Trading Standards Department are not the only people who can prosecute for this offence, a reply from Gloucester Trading Standards is eagerly awaited.

    • seafoid
      July 16, 2012, 4:44 pm

      I wrote to Selfridges in 2001 asking why they sold settlement goods such as Ahava and they replied that they did not get into politics. That was the end of my trips to Selfridges.

      Ahava got another few years. But the wave this year is much stronger than the previous ones.

  9. lysias
    July 16, 2012, 3:51 pm

    Coming to a city near you: privatized security a la the West Bank.

    Craig Murray on the police state conditions now materializing in London for the Olympics:

    The extra 3,500 military personnel it was today announced will be used at the games cover a shortfall in Group Four personnel. Group Four were providing 4,000 paid staff and 6,000 unpaid volunteers. It is the unpaid volunteer numbers which are short by 3,500.

    Most people are not stupid. They may volunteer happily for sport or for charity, but to work for nothing to make tens of millions of pounds of profit for Group Four as it exploits them, plainly does not have universal appeal. Those 2,500 who have volunteered to work for nothing for G4S are the idiots in this story. How gullible can you be?

    Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, today in parliament made the excellent point to Teresa May that Group Four (or G4S as they now call themselves) should not be employed because of their role in aiding and abetting Israel’s illegal activities in the West Bank and human rights abuse there. With breathtaking chutzpah Teresa May replied that it was this kind of valuable international experience that made Group Four the right company to provide security for the games.

  10. ritzl
    July 16, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Bit by bit by little bit… :)

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