Dear ‘New York Times’, Don’t put a pretty face on Ahava’s occupation profiteering

12 February 2013

Dear Joan Raymond,

In response to the New York Times Frequent Flyer column featuring Ahava North American CEO Elana Drell-Szyfer, we thought it important to bring to your attention the fact that Ahava is subject to an international boycott campaign because of the company’s illegal practices. The company’s main production facility and visitors center is located at Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The company sources mud for use in its products from the Occupied Shores of the Dead Sea; this is forbidden as pillage of occupied natural resources under the Geneva Conventions. In addition, Ahava labels its goods as “Product of Israel,” when they are in fact made int he Occupied West Bank. This labeling has been challenged as fraudulent in South Africa, the U.K., the Netherlands and France. Illegal settlements and the goods produced in them are almost universally recognized as an impediment to a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine. Ahava has been the subject of numerous reports detailing its exploitation of Palestinian resources and its violations of international law. I am including links to three of them below.

Report from Israeli Human Rights organization B’Tselem

Report from Palestinian Human Rights organization Al Haq

Report from Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace

You can read more about the international boycott campaign at our web site. There have been numerous press reports of action taken by activist groups and government bodies against Ahava for its violations of international law. Only yesterday, Ahava was featured in a Spiegel piece about the EU’s move to crack down against illegal settlement goods. Here are the relevant paragraphs about Ahava:

“Products from Israeli cosmetics firm Ahava are also the subject of dispute. The company produces creams and shower gels that contain minerals from the Dead Sea. The products’ packaging includes the details, ‘Dead Sea Laboratories. Israel.’ In truth, the products are manufactured at the edge of the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank.

The company refused to answer detailed legal questions. ‘Ahava works in coordination with the German authorities, the European Commission and under the law,’ the company stated, tersely. But the apparent calm was feigned. Ahava immediately informed the Israeli Embassy in Berlin about SPIEGEL’s reporting.

The German importer of Ahava products is based in Wiesbaden, so any control of its products is the responsibility of the city, which is the state capital of Hesse. In a written response to a query from SPIEGEL, the city’s consumer protection department wrote that because the company’s headquarters is officially located within the recognized borders of the state of Israel, ‘nothing misleading can be detected.’”

It is highly unfortunate that the New York Times Business section allowed itself to be used to put a pretty face on Ahava’s blatant disregard for international law. We hope that you will rectify this by providing your readers with information about the international campaign to hold Ahava to account for its illegal practices.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian for the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign

About Nancy Kricorian

Nancy Kricorian is a New York City-based writer and activist.
Posted in BDS, Israel/Palestine, Occupation, Settlers/Colonists | Tagged , , ,

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

  1. HarryLaw says:

    “In a written response to a query from SPIEGEL, the city’s consumer protection department wrote that because the company’s headquarters is officially located within the recognized borders of the state of Israel, ‘nothing misleading can be detected.’”
    This is a typical response from the powers that be, Wiesbaden consumer protection dept should be informed that according to the Rules of origin of the World Trade Organization and the European Union also protocol 4 of the EC-Israel Association Agreement, the origin of a product is deemed to be where it was manufactured not where its head office is, here in the UK our Trades Description Act 1968 which is consistent with the above agreements describes those rules of origin thus.. 36 Country of origin.

    (1)For the purposes of this Act goods shall be deemed to have been manufactured or produced in the country in which they last underwent a treatment or process resulting in a substantial change.
    Ahava are also in breach of other labelling irregularities here’s another one the statutory instrument, the ‘Cosmetic Product (safety) Regulations 2008.UK Section 12(1)(a).’ As created by the 1987 Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Specifically section 12(3)

    Under section 12(1)a of the safety regulations, goods manufactured outside the European economic area (EEA) must be labeled as to their country of origin. The country of origin “Israel” is false and so a criminal offence. This UK regulation was transposed from European Union Regulations and is applicable to all European countries.

  2. HarryLaw says:

    The following is taken from a previous comment by “Hostage” on May 31st 2012 in response to an article by Adam Horowitz, “AP investigates the ‘Made in Israel label’. By letter dated October 24, 1994, the Department of State advised the Department of the Treasury that, in view of certain developments, principally the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (signed on September 13, 1993), the primary purpose of 19 U.S.C. 1304 would be best served if goods produced in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were permitted to be marked ‘‘West Bank’’ or ‘‘Gaza Strip.’’
    Accordingly, as Customs has previously relied upon advice received from the Department of State in making determinations regarding the ‘‘country of origin’’ of a good for marking purposes, Customs notified the public in T.D. 95–25 that, unless excepted from marking, goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip shall be marked as ‘‘West Bank,’’ ‘‘Gaza,’’ or ‘‘Gaza Strip.’’ The T.D. further stated that the country of origin markings of such goods shall not contain the words ‘‘Israel,’’ ‘‘Made in Israel,’’ ‘‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’’ or words of similar meaning.

    By letter dated January 13, 1997, the Department of State advised the Department of the Treasury that the Palestinian Authority has asked that the U.S. accept the country of origin marking ‘‘West Bank/Gaza’’ so as to reaffirm the territorial unity of the two areas. The Department of State further advised that it considers the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be one area for political, economic, legal and other purposes.

    62 FR 12269 – Country of Origin Marking of Products From the West Bank and Gaza link to gpo.gov
    Failure to mark an article in accordance with the requirements of 19 U.S.C. 1304 shall result in the levy of a 10% ad valoram, So it is possible Ahava are also in breach of US customs laws. Once again thank you Hostage.

    • Great information, Harry. Thanks for posting. If only there were serious ENFORCEMENT of these laws, rules and regulations.

      • hophmi says:

        It’s Nancy “Hangup” Kricorian!

        link to youtube.com

        There are territorial disputes all over the world. Hangup Kricorian seems to care only about this one.

        “‘If this kind of labelling regulation is not universal, and seeks to single out one place exclusively, namely Israel,’ it said, ‘then this measure will be inherently iniquitous and discriminatory by nature, and it should be treated as such.’”

  3. HarryLaw says:

    Nancy, fortunately enforcement of these European and UK national laws are not only the preserve of the local authorities Trading Standards teams, other people have the right to prosecute, I know of several barristers who at this moment are working on this very possibility, see Prosecution of offences act UK 1985 section 6[1].