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Settlement guidelines nix Ahava participation in EU-funded research project

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ahava oct7 2010 007
Ahava factory and visitor’s center in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement, October 2010
(Photo: CODEPINK via Who Profits)

European Union (EU) guidelines on Israeli settlements have nixed the cosmetics company Ahava’s participation in a research project. The profitable Israeli firm will no longer receive EU funding because its main factory is located in an settlement near the Dead Sea.

Ahava won’t obtain $8.25 million in EU cash it was expecting for a skin care project because of new rules on settlements scheduled to go into effect in 2014, according to a report by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Ferziger & David Wainer. The SuperFlex project was meant to create skin care products for the elderly, and two-thirds of the funding for the project came from the EU. It was set to begin next month.

In July 2013, the European Union announced that “grants, prizes or financial instruments” will not be given to Israeli entities in the West Bank. The guidelines are only binding on the EU, though, and not on member states. While the economic impact of the rules are limited, and occupation critics point out that the whole Israeli economy is tied to the settlements, Ahava is one company that will feel the heat from the EU policy.

In a statement to Bloomberg, though, Ahava said that “the EU’s decision does not concern Ahava.”

The move to cut Ahava off from EU money comes despite the the company having executives and researchers within Israel proper. According to Eness Elias, a member of the Who Profits? project, Ahava opened a lab in Ein Gedi, Israel in 2009 and expanded it in 2012. The company’s headquarters are also located within the Green Line, in Holon. But its main factory is located in the settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, which owns 37 percent of the company, and other shareholders in the company are also deeply implicated in Israel’s settlement project.

“We had feared that Ahava’s ploy of relocating its executives and research staff out of the West Bank while its manufacturing facility remained at the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem would allow the company to continue feeding at the EU trough,” Nancy Kricorian, the coordinator for Code Pink’s anti-Ahava Stolen Beauty campaign, told me in an e-mail. “We are heartened by this [Bloomberg] report that the EU settlement exclusion clause and concomitant sanctions will be applied to Ahava and its settlement profiteering.” Ahava has been the target of an international boycott campaign due to its settlement links.

While Ahava’s participation in the SuperFlex project will get the ax, another EU-funded project with Ahava will continue to get funding. David Kriss, the spokesman for the EU in Israel, said in an e-mail that “existing projects” are “going ahead.” The EU is currently funding the SmartNano project, an effort to “develop an innovative, cost-effective technology platform” for research into nanoparticles and their effect on consumer products. Ahava is one of seven participants in the project, which started in June 2012 and will end in 2016.

The company, which made $160 million last year, has long benefited from EU-funded projects. But the EU’s new settlement guidelines could mean an end to Ahava’s close relationship with the union.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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13 Responses

  1. Citizen on August 20, 2013, 10:22 am

    Last month Dutch media reported:

    Dutch media reports 2 of country’s largest retail chains announce they will not sell more products originating beyond Green Line

    Following the European Union announcement regarding official guidelines prohibiting the funding of Israeli bodies and actions beyond the Green Line, it was reported Monday in the Netherlands that at least two large retail chains in the country have stopped selling goods produced in Israeli settlements. A third chain assured its customers that the sources of its products are unrelated to the settlements.

    The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded: “This boycott is tainted with hypocrisy and prejudice, and is only worsening the problem it purports to solve.”

    According to Dutch news website Trouw, the two chains that announced they will not be selling products originating in settlements are Aldi and Hoogvlit. The chains are particularly popular in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. The third chain that makes a distinction between Israeli products is Jambo.

    – See more at:

  2. German Lefty on August 20, 2013, 10:58 am

    The Real News: Interview with Max Blumenthal about Israel

    • gingershot on August 21, 2013, 6:34 pm

      I didn’t know Max’s father was Sydney Blumenthal, of the Clinton-era inner circle

    • ToivoS on August 21, 2013, 11:30 pm

      hey lefty, that is one good interview with Max by Jay Paul. Did not see that before.

      My wife went through that same transition after operation Cast Led. Somehow I do not think that the Israelis fully realize how destructive that operation has influenced so many American Jews that were “on the fence”. Unfortunately for the Israelis many of these supporters of Zionism are no longer on the fence but have really turned and started to consider that the whole Israeli experiment in Palestine might be a colossal error.

  3. RudyM on August 20, 2013, 11:11 am

    This is good news, but I have to ask: why would the EU provide funding for research to a profit making company outside the EU, to begin with? I honestly don’t get it. They’ve got that much money to throw around?

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on August 20, 2013, 4:29 pm

      As an EU citizen, I was going to ask exactly the same question. Half the countries in the Eurozone are on the verge of bankruptcy, and they have money to gift to a cosmetics company in Asia? Whatever one thinks of Israel and the ‘settlements’, it just seems bizarre on any level.

  4. Les on August 20, 2013, 11:50 am

    It hits Israel where it hurts, in the pocketbook. It’s about time.

  5. Hostage on August 20, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Ahava won’t obtain $8.25 million in EU cash it was expecting for a skin care project because of new rules on settlements scheduled to go into effect in 2014, according to a report by Bloomberg’s Jonathan Ferziger & David Wainer.

    Well, the Europeans can’t even afford to pay their existing sovereign debt obligations to public bondholders and pensioners in several countries. Why the hell are they making grants of financial resources, that they supposedly can’t afford to spare, to a profitable private company in the first place?

  6. seafoid on August 20, 2013, 2:08 pm

    From a ha’aretz article entitled

    What BDS movement? Manhattan’s obsession with Israeli brands

    “Israeli products are increasingly found in the most prosaic American retail establishments. Sodastream seltzer makers are sold in Wal-Mart, Costco and Bed, Bath & Beyond, big-box stores ubiquitous along the sides of American highways. Ahava body creams and beauty products are also sold by Bed, Bath & Beyond, as well as Macy’s and Lord & Taylor department stores, along with the Ulta and Ricky’s beauty supply stores and many dozens of independent pharmacies, even in Arkansas and North Dakota.
    Despite the efforts of BDS groups to generate boycotts of products manufactured beyond the Green Line, even Israeli companies that do some of their manufacturing there are finding retail success.”

    Even in Arkansas. Those inbred rednecks have no idea about how sophisticated Israel is, the morons, but they still manage to sell ahava there. Incredible.

  7. ritzl on August 20, 2013, 3:13 pm

    I think the biggest impact of the EU “no settlements” certification is that it will make larger settlement enterprises (and therefore likely exporters) actually declare that they are settlement enterprises. They will declare by not signing the certification that they are not. Veracity of the cert can be easily verified (by two teenagers with a smartphone and a motorbike).

    This opens them up to all sorts of EU prohibitions on selling settlement products and completely avoids any protracted, subjective “prove it” legal battles. Settlement enterprise becomes self-defining. Beautiful.

  8. seafoid on August 20, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Top place to visit before it disappears .

    So much for loving the land , Israel

    “Renowned for its awesome beauty products that could make anyone look younger, the Dead Sea is one of the great places to visit before they disappear. In the next 50 years, you will not be able to find Dead Sea products. The thing is that the sea is shrinking at an alarming rate. When you visit the Dead Sea today, you see that all hotels and resorts that once were on the coast are a mile away from where the sea lies these days.”

  9. just on August 21, 2013, 5:42 am

    Hey! CNN reports that settlements are illegal– twice in one article about the disgusting price tag attack on a monastery.

    “Jerusalem (CNN) — The entrance door to a century-old monastery near Jerusalem was burned away and anti-Christian graffiti was sprayed on the walls Tuesday, in what Israeli police said appeared to be a nationalistic attack.

    The phrase “Jesus is a monkey” was painted on the walls of Latrun Monastery in large orange letters, as well as the words “Migron” and “Maoz Esther,” referring to two illegal Israeli settler outposts in the West Bank.

    Families were evacuated from the outposts over the weekend by Israeli government forces.

    The Rev. Louis Wahbeh, of the 19th century monastery, told CNN that he was shocked that anyone would plan and carry out such an attack.

    “This is a direct insult to our belief,” he said. “We can’t understand how such people can get to this low level of not respecting others, have no ethical background and don’t have any human values.””

    “Israeli extremists have previously retaliated against both Islamic and Christian sites when they were forcibly evacuated from illegal West Bank outposts or settlements.”

    Strange that the police refer to this violence as ‘nationalistic’, eh? I guess they ‘own’ it– such a ‘culture’ of tolerance and champion of diversity and freedom. The illegal settlements are not part of the ‘Israeli nation’.

  10. Dex on August 23, 2013, 5:47 pm

    Hello Everyone.

    Question: I am looking for a list of existing anti-PLO legislation in Congress. Does anyone have a comprehensive list available or know of a site that has one?


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