BDS victory: South Africa strips Ahava’s ‘made in Israel’ label

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Coalition of Women for Peace and Codepink protest at an Ahava store in a Hilton Hotel, Tel Aviv, 2009. (Photo: Karen Manor/ActiveStills)

Earlier this month, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry announced that products produced in the West Bank but labeled “made in Israel” will no longer be sold in the country. The judgment calls for “traders in South Africa, not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”

The move came in response to pressure from the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The ruling references evidence presented by Open Shuhada Street and Ahava is cited as a specific company violating South African trade legislation:

The Open Shuhada (Open Shuhada) has alleged that products of Ahava such as cosmetic brands, technology and soft drinks are being distributed in South Africa as products that originate in Israel whereas they originate from the OPT.

In this regard consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the OPT are products originating from Israel. The burden of proving where the products originate will lie with traders.

The government of South Africa recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. Such demarcated borders of Israel by the UN do not include Palestinian Territories occupied after 1967.

Ahava cosmetics are manufactured in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Israeli settlement located in the West Bank near the Dead Sea. Since 2010 the European Union has required products made outside of Israel’s 1967-borders are marked as such. And earlier in 2008, the United Kingdom ordered labels on settlement products. Although the British ruling was a “recommendation” and not legally binding, it indicated companies that continue to use fraudulent labels could be criminally charged.  It is unclear if South African distributors that violate the trade and industry ruling could also face prosecution. 

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Thanks for covering this important BDS win. It is only fitting that South Africa, a land that experienced the efficacy of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as part of a multifaceted struggle against Apartheid, should be the first country to take such an action against Ahava’s illegal practices. Now consumers from South Africa will be able to look at the label on products coming from the West Bank and to make an informed choice about whether… Read more »

Assuming that the labeling of origin is done by the manufacturer or exporter, the proper response to THIS mislabeling is to refuse ALL exports from Israel until Israel cleans up its labeling act. That might impinge on Palestinian exports (and Israeli-Palestinian exports), but it would be proper. EU should do the same: INSIST on proper labeling. NB: Label should be MADE IN OCCUPIED TERRITORIES IF ANY PART OR COMPONENT OR PACKAGING OR INGREDIENT comes from… Read more »

I believe they have sunk so low as to mark products made in the occupied territories as “Palestinian” to get past boycotts. Something to keep an eye out for.

I am hoping to go forward as a litigant in person on the false labelling practices of Ahava in the near future, the trading standards authority who should do this, are reluctant to do their duty, I am waiting for their reasons via a freedom of information request, and will proceed when I receive it, I attended Wirral Magistrates court last month and they disputed the venue London or Wirral, Here is the initial summons… Read more »

We visited the United States recently and went to a shopping mall in Nashua, New Hampshire. Besides the shops there were some stalls of various kinds, at one of which I (lagging behind grandchildren) was approached with the question whether ‘I had heard of the Dead Sea’. No time for an argument, but I noticed that while all the other stalls were trying to attract custom with colourful banners this one had no banner and… Read more »