Letter Archive

Letter Exchange with GILT

July - October 2014

Letter to Kevin Ryan of GILT

31 July 2014

Kevin P. Ryan

Founder and Chairman
GILT
2 Park Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10016

Dear Kevin Ryan,

I'm writing to you today on behalf of an international boycott campaign against Ahava cosmetics, an Israeli enterprise that has its main production facility in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank. We believe there is a contradiction between your role as the Chairman of Gilt, an online retailer that sells Ahava products, and your serving as a Board member of Human Rights Watch, an organization that has taken an explicit stand against Israeli settlement profiteering.

For the past four years, Ahava has served as an international poster child for the evils of illegall settlement goods . It is on the boycott list of the United Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church , and The United Church of Canada. In 2012 Abigail Disney renounced her share of her company's investment in Ahava because of the company’s violations of international law

We believe that Gilt should stop carrying Ahava cosmetics because an association with a company that makes its goods using pillaged resources in a factory on occupied land is unethical and ugly. Would love to speak with you about this issue.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign Manager


Response from Kathy Leo

Gilt.jpg


Letter to Kathy Leo

20 August 2014

Kathy Leo
Chief Legal and People Officer
GILT Group, Inc.
2 Park Avenue, 4th Floor
New York, New York 10016

Dear Kathy Leo,

I am writing in follow up on our exchange about Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli company with its primary production facility in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories whose products are featured on GILT’s online store. In a letter to GILT Chairman Kevin Ryan, we provided information about Ahava’s violations of international law, including the company’s fraudulent labeling, co-ownership by two illegal settlements, and its pillage of mud from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea.

In your letter dated 12 August 2014, you state, “We have been in contact with Ahava and they have assured us that they are operating within the confines of the law.” I am still astonished by this response. It is akin to saying, “We have asked the alleged thief if he had stolen the property, and he assured us that he had not.” Ahava’s violations of international law have been documented by Who Profits, an Israeli research group that focuses on occupation profiteers, by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization; and by Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization. Indeed, retailers around the world have decided to drop Ahava products, and investor Abigail Disney has disavowed her share in her family’s Ahava holdings, having taken the small effort to acquaint herself with Ahava’s illegal practices.

We are further perplexed by how Mr. Ryan can reconcile his position as a board member of Human Rights Watch, an organization that has taken a stand against Israeli settlements and those profiting from them, with his company’s selling goods from Ahava, which is the international poster child for the evils of settlement profiteering. This obvious contradiction is clearly a legitimate subject of public interest and discussion.

In recent weeks, Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza, its home demolitions and land confiscation in the West Bank, and its repression of Palestinian citizens of Israel have given new fuel to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian rights. We would hope that GILT and Mr. Ryan would stand on the right side of history by choosing to drop from its roster goods from Ahava, a company that blatantly violates international law and the human rights of Palestinians.

Ms. Leo, given that your response to our earlier offer to engage with Mr. Ryan and GILT on this issue was essentially a laughable brush off, I do not expect a further reply from you or from Mr. Ryan: GILT’s willful profiting from the exploitation of illegally plundered resources is, however, worthy of your attention and correction, and we remain available to you and Mr. Ryan should you wish to learn more about the crimes from which you are profiting.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign Manager

cc. Kevin Ryan


Letter to Kathy Leo, Chief Legal and People Officer of GILT

October 20, 2014

Dear Kathy Leo,

We have noticed that Ahava products are no longer listed as for sale on the Gilt site and wanted to check in with you about their removal. We are more than pleased to see that, for whatever reason, you are no longer selling Ahava's settlement goods.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign Manager


Letter from Kathy Leo

October 20, 2014

Nancy,

Thanks for your email. I checked with our business folks and for business reasons, we determined to discontinue this line of products.

Kind regards,
Kathy

Letter to New York Times

Letter to New York Times reporter Joan Raymond in response to the Frequent Flyer column, 12 February 2013

12 February 2013

Dear Joan Raymond,

In response to the 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 in the 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.

You can read more about the international boycott campaign at our web site (www.stolenbeauty.org). 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

Letter Exchange With Nordstrom

Letter Exchange between Nancy Kricorian, Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign manager, and Tara Darrow and Blake Nordstrom from Nordstrom, September 2012

7 September 2012

Dear Blake Nordstrom,

I have just been on your company web site looking at your social responsibility guidelines. I found this section of Nordstrom Cares on your vendor partners to be particularly interesting:

"Nordstrom seeks vendor partners who share our commitment to producing quality products through the use of ethical business practices. Every company we work with receives a copy of The Nordstrom Partnership: Standards and Business Practice Guidelines, which outlines the requirements we have for our vendor partners around employment practices, workers' rights, environmental standards and work environments. In cooperation with these Guidelines, we also work hard to ensure that the goods we sell in our stores are made in compliance with applicable laws. View our full Nordstrom Partnership Guidelines below." In case you have not seen the recent report by Al Haq, a leading Palestinian human rights organization, I'm providing a link to it. Based on the relevant statues of international law, Al Haq makes the claim that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is guilty of plunder of mud from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea. The fact that the Israeli government has authorized this plunder does not make it any less illegal. By continuing to sell Ahava mud products at Nordstrom after you have been informed about this pillage--as you have been informed on numerous occasions by our campaign and by others--makes you party to a war crime. I honestly don't understand how you can purport to have the values you enumerate on your web site in Nordstrom Cares and to knowingly support and subsidize these gross violations of human rights and international law.

Sincerely,
Nancy Kricorian


7 September 2012

Hello Nancy-

Thanks for reaching out. Blake is traveling but he and I were able to touch base about your email. He asked me to respond on our behalf, as I've worked closely with him and others on looking into this subject. We've heard from you and the CodePink group for a few years now and we've always listened and considered the issues you bring up about Ahava products. Over those years we've spent quite a bit of time reviewing this issue because we want to be certain that we have a thorough understanding of all the factors at play.

Because this is a sensitive issue that certainly has two sides, and we don't think as a retailer it's appropriate for us to take a position on either side, we have looked toward the requirements we have of all our vendors as our deciding factor for whether to continue offering Ahava products. We require all products we offer to be labeled with their accurate country of origin according to U.S. requirements. To ensure that Ahava's products are labeled appropriately, we asked Ahava, who worked with an approved independent third party, to thoroughly review and report on their product development, sourcing and labeling. Based on that review, it is our understanding that the Ahava products carried at Nordstrom are labeled correctly according to U.S. requirements.

As you mention, we do ask that our vendor partners also adhere to our Nordstrom Partnership Guidelines, which cover many human rights subjects such as employment practices, workers' rights, environmental standards and work environments. As part of this review, an independent third party has found no instance of human rights violations by Ahava. If there were any found, we would immediately address them.

As we've said before, our decision to continue offering these products does not mean we are taking a position on this issue. As a retailer, we are in the business of providing our customers with merchandise they want. At the same time we try to consider our customers' sensitivities but we realize that we are bound to disappoint some customers regardless of whether we offer certain products or not. We’re sorry to disappoint you. We appreciate you taking the time to reach out and giving us the opportunity to respond.

Sincerely,
Tara Darrow
Nordstrom Corporate Communications


9 September 2012

Dear Tara and Blake,

Thank you for your response and for Nordstrom’s continued attention to the matter of Ahava's business practices. Your clarification of Nordstrom's current position on this matter is enlightening; you can rest assured that as global condemnation of Ahava's participation in the criminal pillage of Palestinian resources continues to gather momentum, the overwhelming case for Ahava's removal from Nordstrom's shelves will inevitably prevail. In the meantime, your message raises to the forefront important questions as to whether and how Nordstrom will ethically and responsibly make this transition.

First, you set the bar for your decision to avoid confronting the issue laughably low: Does Ahava's blatantly fraudulent labeling of its products as "Made in Israel" conform to "U.S. requirements"? And you then proceed to lower the bar below floor level by asking Ahava itself, with the assistance of the usual, omnipresent, but always unnamed "independent third party," to make that determination itself. As you are well aware, no one is asking you to conform to "U.S. requirements"; what is being asked is that Nordstrom acknowledge the fact that the profits it derives from its partnership with Ahava are ill gotten, derived as they are from activities clearly illegal under international humanitarian law.

Here's hoping that the day will soon arrive when the "independent third party" you consult on this matter will be your conscience. In the meantime, the drumbeat for justice and fairness grows louder.

Sincerely,
Nancy Kricorian

Rabbinical Letter to Presbyterian Commissioners: On Stolen Beauty

Rabbinical Letter to Presbyterian Commissioners: On Stolen Beauty, June 30th, 2012

June 30, 2012

Dear Presbyterian Delegates,

We are writing as Jewish clergy to show our support for Overture 15-2 “On Boycotting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories and Hadiklaim (an Israeli Date Growers Cooperative).” You have an opportunity to stand for human rights, peace and justice by supporting the overture to boycott Ahava cosmetics, which are made in a factory on occupied land with illegally sourced natural resources. We applaud your initiative with this overture and want to communicate our support as Jewish leaders who also work for justice and peace for the people of Israel and Palestine.

You may face criticism from some claiming to represent the Jewish community for your principled stand, but we believe there is a plurality of opinion on this issue within our community. There is, in fact, a growing movement within the North American Jewish community calling for the boycott of settlement products as a means to end Israel's oppressive occupation.

Many Jewish leaders, we among them, are horrified by the ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land, the destruction of Palestinian cisterns and wells, the bulldozing of entire communities, and the violence of settlers who target Palestinians and their property for almost daily attacks. Members of the Jewish community are increasingly voicing support for nonviolent popular resistance against these misdeeds, including the kind of cautious, targeted boycott that the Presbyterian Church is preparing to undertake. For example, in June, 2012, former Speaker of the Israeli Knesset and World Zionist Organization leader Avraham Burg declared his support for settlement boycott in an article in the Independent (http://ind.pn/NpbCab). Former Israeli Foreign Ministry director Alon Liel made public his boycott of settlement goods and support for South Africa's new “plan to ban ‘Made in Israel' labels for imported products from the West Bank, protesting what he calls Israeli complacency about the occupation.” (http://bit.ly/MqPjl6) In March 2012, Jewish-American professor at the City University of New York Peter Beinart published a New York Times op ed, entitled “To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements” (http://nyti.ms/Nf2PUA).

Despite claims to the contrary, a principled stand for dignity, justice and equality for all in Israel and Palestine is not anti-Semitic. To boycott settlement goods is not anti-Semitic. To criticize Israeli government policy is not anti-Semitic. In fact, holding Israel to account for its violations of international law is the responsibility of all people of faith, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any other creed.

Why boycott Ahava? Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories (www.ahava.co.il) is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. The Hebrew word “Ahava” means love, but there is nothing loving about what the company is doing in the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The company's main factory and its visitors' center are located in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank. Ahava products are labeled as of ‘Israeli origin,' but according to international law, the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. 44% of Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories stock is collectively owned by the settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalya. Because of this, Ahava sales mean a direct financial gain for Israel's illegal settlement project in occupied Palestinian territory.

Public pressure against illegal settlement goods in general and AHAVA in particular has increased during the past three months. In April Vita, a major retail chain in Norway, announced that it would no longer stock Ahava products. In early May the United Methodist Church voted to boycott illegal Israeli settlement products including Ahava. In mid-May the South African Minister of Trade announced that Ahava in particular and settlement products in general would no longer be allowed the “Made in Israel” label. Denmark followed suit with a similar announcement one week later. A few days later Migros, a Swiss retailer, said they would begin labeling settlement goods as products of “Israeli settlement zone West Bank.” There was an excellent blog post on TIME covering much of the labeling row, and most of the press coverage about the settlement goods controversy featured Ahava as the poster child.

In June the Israeli research organization Who Profits released a new report entitled “Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products.” All this is to say that the push to hold Ahava accountable for its violations of international law is snowballing.

The overture notes, “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is no stranger to calling for boycotts, both nationally and internationally, because corporate practices violated the human rights, and even threatened the lives of peoples being exploited… We call upon the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to remain consistent in its historical witness against human exploitation for the sake of power and profit anywhere that may occur in the global community.” Boycotting Ahava follows the righteous tradition of the church. We hope that you will show your support for international law and human rights by voting to boycott Ahava. As Palestinian Christian Jean Zaru stated, “You cannot pray for peace and invest in violence.”
Sincerely,

(Partial list of signers includes the names below. Email Rae to add your name.)

Rabbi Joseph Berman, Boston MA
Rabbi Hillel Cohn, Congregation Emanu El, San Bernardino, CA
Rabbi David J. Cooper, Piedmont, California
Cantor Michael Davis, Evanston, IL
Ari Lev Fornari, Rabbinical Student, Boston, MA
Maggid Andrew Gold, Congregation Kol HaLev, Santa Fe, NM
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Stony Point, NY
Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun Magazine www.tikkun.org
Rabbi Brant Rosen, Evanston, IL
Rabbi Alissa Wise, San Francisco, CA

  • For more information on Ahava, visit www.stolenbeauty.org
  • To read the comprehensive report on Ahava and for more information on the manufacturer and its involvement in the occupation, visit “Who Profits from the Occupation?” (A project of The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace)

Letter to Macys

Letter to the CEO of Macy's asking the store's support for international law and human rights by not carrying Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories products at Macy's, 15 March 2012

15 March, 2012

Mr. Terry Lundgren, CEO
Macy's
7 West Seventh Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Dear Mr. Lundgren,

I am writing to you today about Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics concern with its main factory and visitors center in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian territories. It has come to our attention that Macy's is now carrying Ahava products in some of its retail locations and in its online store. Macy's explicitly says in its mission statement: "We subscribe to ethical business practices in every facet of our business," "We will obey all laws" and "We will respect the rights and properties of others." Given your commitment to socially responsible, ethical and legal methods, as well as your admirable "Paths to Peace" program, we thought we should let you know that Ahava is the subject of an international boycott campaign because of its illegal practices.

All Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem, where the Ahava factory is located, are illegal under international law according to the International Court of Justice, all major human rights organizations, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, the UN, and almost all governments worldwide. Not only is Ahava's factory based in an illegal settlement, but also the company's profits subsidize Mitzpe Shalem and the settlement of Kalia, both of which are co-owners of the enterprise. Even worse, we have documentation showing that the Israeli Civil Administration has allowed Ahava to source the mud used in its products from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention's ban on the pillage of occupied natural resources. In addition, Ahava labels its goods "Product of Israel" when they are in fact manufactured in the Occupied West Bank. It is our belief that if some of your customers were aware of the actual provenance of these cosmetics, they would choose not to purchase them. By carrying Ahava products at Macy's you are in fact underwriting a vast, illegal settlement enterprise that is widely regarded around the world as an impediment to peace in the region.

I have enclosed a map of Israel and the West Bank so you can see the exact location of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia (where the mud is harvested). I have also included some recent press clips regarding a controversy in which Ahava is embroiled in the U.K. If you should want to learn more about the international boycott campaign against Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the company's illegal practices, you can visit our web site www. stolenbeauty.org. You are also welcome to contact me directly at nancy@stolenbeauty.org.

We hope that you will abide by your own mission statement and show your support for international law and human rights by choosing to no longer stock Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories products in your store. Thank you for your attention and consideration.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
c/o CODEPINK
2010 Linden Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

CC: Jeffrey Gennette, Chief Merchandising Officer; Julie Strider; Alison Kmiotik; Macys.com

Encl: map, Independent article

For more information on the manufacturer and its involvement in the occupation, go to "Who Profits from the Occupation?" (A project of The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace)

Link to map:
http://s3.amazonaws.com/codepink4peace.org/img/original/MAP_big.jpg

Link to Independent article:
http://www.independent.co.uk

Letter to The Independent

This letter refutes two points made in The Independent article entitled “Natural History Museum Attacked over Links to ‘Illegal’ Israeli Company,” January 2012

To The Independent,

In your January 17 article entitled “Natural History Museum Attacked over Links to ‘Illegal' Israeli Company” there are many points that one could argue, including the use of the italics around the word illegal. But I will restrict myself to two.

At the end of the piece, the reporter writes, “The company has previously said that the Dead Sea mud and materials used in its products are excavated from Israeli land outside the occupied territories and that Mitzpe Shalem is not an illegal settlement.” This sentence contains two claims by Ahava that I know to be patently false. All Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem, are illegal under international law according to the International Court of Justice, all major human rights organizations, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, the UN, and almost all governments worldwide. Only the Israeli government and as, we are told here, Ahava make claims to the contrary. Ahava can call Mitzpe Shalem a kibbutz, or a collective farm, or a space station, but that doesn't make it any less an illegal settlement. Secondly, there is documentary evidence that Ahava does source the mud used in its products from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea. Responding to a query from Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, the Israeli Civil Administration, which governs Area C of the West Bank, confirmed via letter (that you can see in the original Hebrew or in English translation) that Ahava was granted a permit to excavate mud from the shores of the Occupied West Bank near the settlement of Kalia, which is a co-owner of Ahava and subsidized by the company's profits. By sourcing the mud used in its products from occupied shores, Ahava is flouting the Geneva Conventions, which specifically prohibit the exploitation of occupied natural resources. The legal term for this exploitation is PILLAGE.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Campaign Manager, Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott
New York, New York

Letter to Elle Magazine

In January 2012, ELLE Magazine ran a piece on “Sea Salt Benefits” that featured Ahava and described the company’s plant near the shores of the Dead Sea as being in Israel. We wrote a response to correct this erroneous assertion.

In January 2012, ELLE Magazine ran a piece on “Sea Salt Benefits” that featured Ahava and described the company's plant near the shores of the Dead Sea as being in Israel. We wrote a response to correct this erroneous assertion.

April Long,
Senior Writer, ELLE Magazine
1271 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10020

18 January 2012

Dear April Long,

In “Sea Salt Benefits” in ELLE's January 2012 issue, you describe Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories' production facility as located in Israel. In fact, while Ahava's corporate headquarters are based in Holon, Israel, Ahava's plant is in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. All Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem, are illegal under international law according to the International Court of Justice, all major human rights organizations, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, the UN, and almost all governments worldwide. Not only is Ahava's factory based in an illegal settlement, but also the company's profits subsidize Mitzpe Shalem and the settlement of Kalia, both of which are co-owners of the enterprise. Even worse, we have documentation showing that the Israeli Civil Administration has allowed Ahava to source the mud used in its products from the occupied shores of the Dead Sea in direct contravention of the Geneva Convention's ban on the pillage of occupied natural resources. By misleading your readers about the location of the plant, you deprive them of the details they would need to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to purchase Israeli settlement goods—products supporting a vast, illegal settlement enterprise that is widely regarded around the world as an impediment to peace in the region.

I have enclosed a map of Israel and the West Bank so you can see the exact location of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia (where the mud is harvested). I have also included some recent press clips regarding a controversy in which Ahava is embroiled in the U.K. If you should want to learn more about the international boycott campaign against Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the company's illegal practices, you can visit our web site www. stolenbeauty.org. You are also welcome to contact me directly.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Campaign Manager, Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott

Letter Exchange With President of Nordstrom

Letter Exchange between boycott supporter Annraoi O and Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, a U.S. department store chain that is “committed to social responsibility,” October - November, 2011

From: Annraoi O.
Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2011 7:08 AM
To: Nordstrom, Blake
Cc: Black, Laurie; Tritton, Mark
Subject: Nordstrom and CSR

Dear Blake:

Thank you for forwarding my email to Tara Darrow, asking her to respond on your behalf. Tara has indeed responded very promptly, reiterating the line that Nordstrom has "no plans at this time to change our relationship with Ahava".

I have asked her if it was your personal view that Nordstrom should continue to build a relationship with a company that operates a mineral/mud excavation site in the Occupied West Bank, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions. She may or may not pass on this question to you.

Although Ahava has denied this consistently, the Israeli government (specifically, Amos Wagner, Second Lieutenant, Public Inquiries
Officer, The Prime Minister's Office) has recently confirmed that "in the jurisdiction of the Megilot Dead Sea Regional Council there is only one site that practices mining or quarrying. In this site, mud mining permissions were given to the company Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd."

Megilot is in the Occupied West Bank, and Dead Sea Laboratories is
Ahava. Amos Wagner further confirms that as of the date of his letter
(26 April 2011), "the mentioned site is operational today, and is used, as said, for the mining of mud".

Nordstrom last conducted an audit of Ahava's operations BEFORE Amos Wagner's confirmation that Ahava conducts excavation operations within the Occupied West Bank. Surely, it is time for Nordstrom to re-audit
Ahava's operations?

Best regards, Annraoi


On 31 Oct 2011, at 21:03, "Nordstrom, Blake" wrote:

I just met with Tara once again regarding the communications you've
had with our company of late concerning Ahava. Though I appreciate your recognition of their efforts and sincere desire to answer your questions, I'm sorry that we appear to have a different view on this situation. Please know it's our sincere desire as merchants to conduct our business in the manner our customers and employees alike would expect. We're not lawyers, but we want to abide by all laws and regulations, as well as being able to stand behind our goods and services in all cases.

Please know that we have spent more time and energy on this particular vendor and product than any other I can think of. Though we carry literally thousands of different vendors and this particular one is very small, we have gone to great lengths from some inquiries awhile back from some concerned customers like yourself that raised questions as to its origin and production. Laurie and her team, along with Linda and Tara, worked with Robert Sari, our general counsel, along with other representatives outside of Nordstrom, to conduct a review of this product. They are satisfied that they are in compliance, so we continue to carry the product under that information. This is not something we take lightly, and will continue to monitor it.

That said, I did tell Tara on behalf of Nordstrom to let you know that we will probably have to agree to disagree at this point, given that you may view this differently.

Respectfully,
Blake Nordstrom


From: Annraoi O
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2011 1:37 AM
To: Nordstrom, Blake
Cc: Black, Laurie; Tritton, Mark; Darrow, Tara; Peffer, Linda; Sari,
Robert
Subject: Re: Nordstrom and CSR

Blake:

Thank you for taking the time to respond personally to an 80-year-old man on the far side of the pond. Even if your response was not the one I hoped for, I do accept that you and your company have spent time investigating the bona fides of Ahava, and that I am unlikely to persuade you to change your mind.

Can you answer one final question? It will be my last - I promise - as I am genuinely confused by Nordstrom's stance on this issue.

My difficultly is in understanding how Ahava is in compliance with Nordstrom's CSR policies. It seems to me that either:

A) Nordstrom does not accept that Ahava has an active mud excavation site in the Megillot region of the Occupied West Bank, which is in contravention of the Geneva Conventions which forbid the exploitation of natural resources in occupied territories, or
B) Nordstrom does accept that Ahava is in contravention of the Geneva
Conventions but its CSR policy is more focused on employment conditions and ethics, and that Ahava is therefore technically compliant.

I trust you can probably see my difficulty here.

Many thanks again for your time and your prompt response.

Respectfully, Annraoi


On 1 Nov 2011, at 22:39, "Nordstrom, Blake" wrote:

On behalf of our team, let me try to reiterate that we have strived to answer your questions to the best of our ability. This matter is complicated because of political ramifications as well, which as merchants is not something we're going to weigh in on.

We've done all that we can to make sure that this is a legally compliant product under US law and meets our standards including human rights as well.

Sincerely,
Blake Nordstrom


From: Annraoi O
Date: 3 November 2011 07:52:55 GMT
To: "Nordstrom, Blake"

Subject: Re: Nordstrom and CSR

Blake:

I have to accept your position, even though I fail to understand the logic of it.

Thank you for your responses. I will not email you or the Nordstrom CSR team again but I do hope that, in time, Nordstrom will embrace a CSR policy that is genuinely socially responsible.

Regards, Annraoi

Letter Exchanges with Ingrid Newkirk, Executive Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

We ask People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to change its consumer certification stamp on Ahava from 'Cruelty Free' to 'Not Tested on Animals' to ensure that no one purchases the illegal settlement product out of confusion. August 2011

1. (Nancy's letter to Ingrid)

Sent: Monday, August 01, 2011 10:31 AM
To: Ingrid Newkirk
Subject: Cruelty-free certification

Dear Ingrid Newkirk,

It has been called to our attention that your organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has certified Ahava cosmetics as “cruelty free” and “vegan.” We believe that Ahava does not test on animals, that its new product line is vegan, and that it is paraben free. But we do not believe that occupation profiteering is “cruelty free.”

Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories (www.ahava.co.il) is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. The company's main factory and its visitors' center are located in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Ahava products are labeled as of 'Israeli origin,' but according to international law, the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. Not only does Ahava profit from the occupation by locating its main plant and store in an illegal Israeli settlement, it also uses in its products mud from the Dead Sea, excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit, a practice which is explicitly forbidden by the fourth Geneva Convention. Ahava is co-owned by two illegal settlements—Mitzpe Shalem, where the plant is located and Kalia, which is where the mud excavation site is located—and these two settlements are subsidized by the company's profits.

In November 2009 the Dutch Foreign Minister initiated an investigation into whether AHAVA violates European Union rules, and in January 2010 a British Minister of Parliament denounced AHAVA's fraudulent labeling at a hearing in the House of Commons. In February 2010, the European Union court in Luxembourg ruled that Israeli settlement products manufactured in the Occupied Palestinian Territories—including AHAVA—cannot be considered products of Israel and are therefore not covered under existing EU/Israeli customs agreements. Activists in France have filed suit against Sephora for knowingly trafficking in settlement goods, whose production flouts international law. Activists in South Africa have filed suit against Wellness Warehouse for the same reason. A two-year bi-weekly protest outside Ahava's flagship London store has resulted in Ahava's losing its lease.

For more information on the boycott campaign, go to “Stolen Beauty”
www.stolenbeauty.org

For more information on the manufacturer and its involvement in the occupation, go to “Who Profits from the Occupation?” (A project of The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace)
www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=575

For more information on the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign, go to Global BDS Movement for Palestine:
www.bdsmovement.net/

If you want to publicize the fact that Ahava does not test its products on animals, that is certainly your choice. But to certify the company's occupation profiteering as "cruelty free" is to use your group's good name to promote dispossession and resource theft. We appreciate your principled work on behalf of animals. We hope that your concern extends also to the people of Occupied Palestine.

All best,

Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign Manager


2. Ingrid's response

From: Ingrid Newkirk
Date: Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM
Subject: RE: Cruelty-free certification
To: Nancy Kricorian

Dear Nancy:

Thanks for your email. I was in Palestine a few Christmases ago to give a talk about non-violent resistance to cruelty and spoke up against the wall. My theme was “Respect me, for I am a living being” and I abhor all manner of exploitation and discrimination, prejudice and religious intolerance. I am myself an atheist and my religion is compassion.

The term “cruelty-free” applies only within the context of testing on animals and the use of ingredients from animals: it does not imply any other conduct. Please understand that a manufacturer may beat his wife for all we know. Our purview is limited by our charter to whether or not the product is cruel to animals.

I wish you the very best in all your efforts for peace and understanding.

Kind regards, IEN


3. Nancy replies

From: Nancy Kricorian
Date: Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: Cruelty-free certification
To: Ingrid Newkirk

Dear Ingrid,

I appreciate your prompt response to my letter about PETA's having certified Ahava products as cruelty free. One of our CODEPINK staff members had mentioned to me that she interviewed you while you were in Palestine during the visit you reference, and we assumed that you were sympathetic to the struggle against the Annexation wall and the ongoing land theft in the Occupied West Bank.

While, technically, the absence of cruelty to animals may be a sufficient reason to apply PETA's "cruelty-free" label to a product according to the organization's own dictates, the presence of flagrant and cruel human rights violations in the very expropriation and manufacture of a business' products is a NECESSARY reason to withhold such praise. By your reasoning, PETA would have been happy to have certified Belgium's Congo rubber plantations or the IG Farben gas works in Germany as "cruelty-free.” But when human beings see the label, they understand it to be making ethical claims that, while specific to animals, include in those claims, more than implicitly, human animals too. PETA, in the case of Ahava, is now knowingly lending its moral capital to an immoral and cruel business, which is a position that must be challenged.

Sincerely,

Nancy K
Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott Campaign Manager


4. Kristen's letter to Ingrid (August 10, 2011)

Dear Ingrid,
I am a longtime supporter of your work on behalf of animal rights. I may have been the sole person who was beside myself with excitement when the Holy Land Trust invited you to speak at our nonviolence conference in Bethlehem a few years ago! But I write to you today with a heavy heart.

I lived and worked in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip for some 10 years, documenting Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights, among other horrors of occupation. I lived under occupation, was stopped at checkpoints, was arrested, had my hair pulled in order to humiliate me and so that I would “remember my place” under the Israeli soldiers. During that first decade of the new century I also took instructions via telephone from my veterinarian sister regarding care for the dozens of homeless dogs I saw running in the fields and streets. I was somewhat of an anomaly there: a vegan who clandestinely rescued animals while struggling for Palestinian rights.

During my work in Palestine, I was both a journalist and an activist for justice. When I sat down with you for our interview in a hotel café next to the Church of Nativity on the edge of Manger Square I was wearing the hat of journalist, but my politics informed our discussion. I understood that while ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine was not your primary concern, you considered it a clear issue of oppression that needed to be addressed. The piece that I wrote after that interview was entitled, “It's Difficult to Talk About Peace with a Mouth Full of Blood”. It lasted on a local English-language news site for about 15 minutes before I was admonished for choosing such a “horrifying” headline.

It is now a sad turn of events that leaves me shocked that PETA has given Ahava its “cruelty free” status. Ingrid, the occupation of Palestine is not “cruelty free”. I understand that Ahava cosmetics are “not tested on animals”, however they are incredibly, deeply, horrifyingly cruel.

The occupation, as you know, ensures that Palestinians are enslaved due to economic occupation and imprisoned due to the siege on Gaza, the Wall in the West Bank, checkpoints and Jewish-only settlements. Ahava is produced in such a settlement. It is made with mud illegally pillaged from the shores of the Dead Sea in occupied territory – Palestinians are prevented access to these very shores by machine-gun toting Israeli soldiers, barbed wire and restricted roads.

I am horrified that PETA has certified Ahava as “Cruelty Free”. Please write instead, “Not Tested on Animals”. It is a matter of justice and compassion.

With respect,
Kristen Ess (Schurr)
kessschurr@gmail.com
213.479.8011


5. Ingrid's response to Kristen

From: Ingrid Newkirk
Date: Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 11:50 AM
Subject: RE: From Kristen Ess, Bethlehem Journalist
To: Kristen Ess Schurr

Dear Kristen:

I am baffled by this and the other email I received.

You don't have to point out to me what is going on in Palestine as if I am oblivious about Palestine, honestly. I am horrified by all violence, oppression, injustice. You heard what I said that time and some people opened their hearts, others did not. I have taken a lot of flak galore for including in my “nonviolence includes the animals” video and in talks a reference to the wall as being wrong, which I believe with all my heart, but I can do it and I will do it.

That list is ‘cruelty free” IN RELATION TO, and ONLY in relation to, whether or not the product is tested on animals. The owner of the company may beat his wife, lock his children in the basement, oppress human beings, eat other animals, keep a chained dog, you name it. The label ONLY applies to whether or not the product is tested on animals, not about anything else at all. Everyone knows that.
I wish you well in your endeavors. I remember you as a kind person, struggling with your paper.

Kind regards, and I hope to see you again one day.

IEN

Israeli Civil Administration Report on the origin of Ahava mud

May 2011
Responding to a query from Who Profits, the Israeli Civil Administration confirmed that Ahava was granted a permit to excavate mud from the Occupied West Bank.

Letter from Ellen Lippmann: Changing my mind

December 10, 2010 
Rabbi Ellen Lippman was one of the signatories of the Brooklyn Rabbis Letter denouncing the Ahava boycott campaign. After a visit to the West Bank, Lippman wrote to the other rabbis saying that she had changed her mind and now supported the boycott of settlement products, including Ahava.

Dear rabbis,

I am writing this note which I have meant to write since returning from the human rights mission to Israel and Palestine that I co-led in October; a trip organized by Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. It was an amazing trip in many ways, and a sorrowful one too, as we saw the painful places where human rights are damaged if not discarded. I urge you to go on next year's trip, which will take place in mid-November.

Among many other things, we saw the destruction that is wrought by too many Israeli settlers. We stood on the charred ground that had been a thriving olive grove only days before, before settlers set fire to it, as they also poison and cut down other trees and groves, seemingly just because they are owned and run by Palestinians. We stood with cave dwellers in the south Hebron Hills and a day later they and Israeli advocate Ezra Nawi were attacked by armed and masked "bandit" settlers. We visited Hebron, where streets are empty of life except in the area of the Cave, because Palestinian shops have been locked and so have many homes, and where the main street near the Cave is divided by a cement barrier; Palestinians walk on one side, Israelis, Americans, on the other, watched by a soldier. 

Israel has many real security needs. But I have come to know that the ways in which the occupation of the West Bank is enforced go way beyond those needs to the realm of harsh discrimination and ready violence, aided by a complicity military and government. 

This is all preface to my main point to you: I have changed my mind about the purchase of products made in the Jewish West Bank. All the rabbis I spoke to in Israel, who were not only RHR rabbis, are not buying West Bank products. I have decided to join them. Therefore, I will no longer oppose those who refuse to buy Ahava products. 

The list produced by Gush Shalom is attached, if you want to think about this as well.

I have no interest in embarrassing any of you, my colleagues. I will not be standing in front of Ricky's urging a boycott. But I have come to think I must support it.

Thanks for "listening." I leave Monday for a month's sabbatical, so will have little chance to talk to any of you before going. I would be happy to talk when I return, if you like.

I wish you all a happy and hopeful new year.

Ellen


Rabbi Ellen Lippmann Kolot Chayeinu / Voices of Our Lives www.kolotchayeinu.org

Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives is a Jewish congregation in Brooklyn, where doubt can be an act of faith and all hands are needed to build our community. We are creative, serious seekers who pray joyfully, wrestle with tradition, pursue justice and refuse to be satisfied with the world as it is. As individuals of varying sexual orientations, gender identities, races, family arrangements, and Jewish identities and backgrounds, we share a commitment to the search for meaningful expressions of our Judaism in today's uncertain world.

Letter to Retailers in Response to Ahava CEO Yaakov Ellis's Dubious Claims

October 2010
The Stolen Beauty team debunks Ahava’s inaccuracies and contradictions about the Israeli occupation – yes, all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

To download the text of this letter as a ready to deliver document click here. 

Dear Retailer,

We received a copy of a letter that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories CEO Yaakov Ellis has been sending to his retail partners. In this letter, Ellis supplies dubious information about his company's business practices, makes contradictory claims about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and uses unfounded innuendo to belittle boycott campaign supporters. The Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign has prepared the following response to Ellis's false claims.

1. Settlements in the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, are illegal under international law.

The claims about the West Bank's status in Ellis's letter are factually inaccurate and contradictory. The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 War. Numerous United Nations resolutions and the ruling of the International Court of Justice in 2004 affirmed the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Also Israel's own Supreme Court stated in 2004 that Israel was holding the area “in belligerent occupation.” (http://bit.ly/israelsupremecourt). As an occupied territory, the West Bank and its Palestinian residents are protected by the Geneva Conventions.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, are illegal under international law. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies.” Ahava's manufacturing plant and visitors center are located at Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava labels its goods as "products of Israel" when in fact they are made in the Occupied West Bank. This labeling is under investigation in the U.K., and activists in France have filed suit against Sephora for carrying these products because of Ahava's illegal practices.

The settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia are cooperatives owned by the settlers living in them, and together they own 44% of Ahava. Both of these settlements are deep inside occupied Palestinian territory. Ahava profits are therefore subsidizing these illegal settlements and their residents. According to mapping done by Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (www.adalah.org), formerly there were a few Palestinian communities on the lands on which these two settlements are located: Nabi Musa where Kalia is now situated and 'Arab al-Ta'amira near Mitzpe Shalem.

2. Our boycott campaign in the United States is completely legal.

Ahava is telling its retail customers that our boycott campaign is illegal under U.S. law. This is not true. The National Lawyers Guild has advised us that activists are completely within the law to engage in a political campaign using the time-honored tactic of economic boycott to press Israel to comply with international human rights laws and end its abusive occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. Our boycott campaign targets Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the company's violations of international law. This campaign is protected by the First Amendment, as free speech and association.  Boycotts were integral to the success of the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa, the civil rights movement in the southern United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the movement to force California grape growers to recognize their workers' union, and many other similarly honorable nonviolent struggles for human rights that Ahava would not dare to condemn now, in hindsight.

3. Ahava's sourcing of ingredients appears to violate international law.

We have received reports from sources in Israel that Ahava excavated mud for use in its products from the shores of the Dead Sea near Kalia, a settlement that is part owner of the company. In our “Case Against Ahava,” which was sent by the UK-based Business and Human Rights Centre (BHRC) to Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories for response in early December 2009, we stated:

“The mud that is used in the Ahava products is taken from a site that is next to the settlement of Kalia. This ‘pillage”' or ‘plunder' is illegal under international humanitarian law, specifically under Articles 23, 53 and 55 of the Hague Regulations; Articles 51 and 53 of the 4th Geneva Conventions; and Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

Ahava did not respond to our complaint, and so the BHRC published and disseminated the “Case Against Ahava” (http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/687583) with no rebuttal from the company. We would welcome documentary proof from Ahava that it does not now nor has it ever sourced mud from the shores of the Occupied West Bank near the illegal settlement of Kalia.

Despite Yaacov Ellis's claims to the contrary, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli profiteer in Occupied Palestinian Territory. 


We hope that you will show your support for international law and human rights by choosing to no longer stock Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories products in your store. Thank you for your attention and consideration.

If you are not in charge of purchasing for your store, please forward this information to the appropriate personnel at your corporate headquarters.  If you have questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact Nancy Kricorian, the campaign manager for The Stolen Beauty AHAVA Boycott, at nancy@stolenbeauty.org.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian, Rae Abileah, Kristen Ess Schur and the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott team

For more information on the boycott campaign, please visit “Stolen Beauty” www.stolenbeauty.org

For more information on the manufacturer and its involvement in the occupation, go to “Who Profits from the Occupation?” (A project of The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace) www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=575

Letter from Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories President and CEO Yaakov Ellis

September 2010 
Ahava CEO falsely claims that settlements are not illegal, that boycotts are, and that the occupation profiteer is not exploiting Palestinian natural resources.

In a letter from Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories President and CEO Yaakov Ellis that was circulated in 2010 to cosmetics retailers, Elllis deploys specious information about his own company's business practices, contradictory claims about Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, and unfounded innuendo about boycott campaign supporters.

Note: The South African activist group Open Shuhada Street has also penned an open letter to the South African Zionist Federation in response to the Federation's support of Ahava CEO' Ellis' claims.

Please read this letter below, along with the Stolen Beauty Campaign's responses to some of these claims:

Download PDF version of the letter from Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories President and CEO Yaakov Ellis.

 AH_Letter_SettingRecordStraight.jpg

 


1. On the legality of our boycott campaign in the United States.

"These organizations are orchestrating a political boycott of the Ahava® products, and through it cause damage to the State of Israel. As you know, such boycotts are not only abhorrent, but illegal in the United States."

Ahava is telling its retail customers that our boycott campaign is illegal under U.S. law. This is not true. The National Lawyers Guild has advised us that activists are completely within the law to engage in a political campaign using the time-honored tactic of economic boycott to press Israel to comply with international human rights laws and end its abusive occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza. Our boycott campaign targets Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the company's violations of international law. This campaign is protected by the First Amendment, as free speech and association. Boycotts were integral to the success of the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa, the civil rights movement in the southern United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the movement to force California grape growers to recognize their workers' union, and many other similarly honorable nonviolent struggles for human rights that Ahava would not dare to condemn now, in hindsight.

2. On the sourcing of Ahava's ingredients
"The mud and minerals used in Ahava's cosmetic products are not excavated in an occupied area. The minerals are mined in the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is undisputed internationally."

In May 2011 our partners at Who Profits, a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace, received confirmation from the Israeli Civil Administration ( click here for Hebrew version) that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories was granted an excavation permit in the jurisdiction of the Megilot Dead Sea Regional Council in 2004 and that the excavation site is currently active. This is documentary proof that Mr. Ellis' claim is false and that Ahava is exploiting occupied natural resources for profit.

The mud that is used in Ahava products is taken from a site that is next to the settlement of Kalia. This 'pillage"' or 'plunder' is illegal under international humanitarian law, specifically under Articles 23, 53 and 55 of the Hague Regulations; Articles 51 and 53 of the 4th Geneva Conventions; and Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.


3. On the contradictory claims that Mitzpe Shalem is situated in "undisputed territory," that Mitzpe Shalem is "not an illegal settlement," that Mitzpe Shalem does not violate international law, specifically because "there is no recognized right of any peoples other than Israel to the West Bank," and that "sovereignty over the West Bank has been in dispute for more than 60 years."

"Ahava does not interfere with the Palestinian population. Mitzpe Shalem is situated in an unpopulated area in undisputed territory in the Judea Desert, and there are no Palestinians residing in the vicinity of Mitzpe Shalem."

"Mitzpe Shalem is not an illegal settlement. Ahava's manufacturing facility is located at Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, on the North-Western shore of the Dead Sea, just 6 miles north of the "Green Line", within the area usually referred as the West Bank."

"Ahava's use of the Mitzpe Shalem facility is legal and does not violate any provision of International Law, especially as there is no recognized right of any peoples other than Israel to the West Bank."

"The sovereignty over the West Bank has been in dispute for more than 60 years. It is expected that the future of the West Bank, and in particular of that part where Mitzpe Shalem is situated, will be finally decided as part of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians."

MAPsm.jpgThese statements by Ellis are factually inaccurate and contradictory. The West Bank has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war. Numerous United Nations resolutions and the ruling of the International Court of Justice in 2004 affirmed the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Also Israel's own Supreme Court stated in 2004 that Israel was holding the area "in belligerent occupation." As an occupied territory, the West Bank and its Palestinian residents are protected by the Geneva Conventions.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia, are illegal under international law. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that, "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies." Ahava's manufacturing plant and visitors center are located at Mitzpe Shalem. Ahava labels its goods as "products of Israel" when in fact they are made in the Occupied West Bank. This labeling is under investigation in the U.K., and activists in France have filed suit against Sephora for carrying these products because of Ahava's illegal practices.

The settlements of Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia are cooperatives owned by the settlers living in them, and together they own 44% of Ahava. Both of these settlements are deep inside Palestinian territory. Mitzpe Shalem is about 9 km from the Green Line and Kalia is 30 km from the Green line. Ahava profits are therefore subsidizing these illegal settlements and their residents. According to mapping done by Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (www.adalah.org), formerly there were a few Palestinian communities on the lands on which these two settlements are located: Nabi Musa where Kalia is now situated and 'Arab al-Ta'amira near Mitzpe Shalem.

Despite Yaacov Ellis's claims to the contrary, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli profiteer in Occupied Palestine.

Brooklyn Rabbis Letter

July 23—29, 2010
Believe this letter from five misinformed Rabbis and you would think the Israelis are ‘just and noble occupiers’. In response, Brooklyn For Peace lays out the facts: Just because it’s ‘Area C’ doesn’t mean it’s legal. Settlement and expropriation are not lawful activities.

In the Brooklyn Paper July 23—29, 2010

About the Protest of Israeli Beauty Products on Montague Street

Over the second week of July, at 107 Montague Street, Ricky's, part of a tri-state chain which sells beauty products, was picketed by activists in solidarity with “Stolen Beauty”, a campaign against the sale of Israeli Ahava products because some are manufactured in the West Bank.

What is the background of “Stolen Beauty”?

“Stolen Beauty” is organized by CODEPINK, a US women's movement, as part of “BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanction for Palestine,” an international coalition. Since its founding in July 2005, BDS has helped to organize, all over the world, boycotts of Israeli intellectuals and artists, the removal of Israeli films from film festivals, divestment from Israeli companies by churches and universities, and cancellation of concerts in Israel by international stars.

BDS does not take a position on positive attempts to resolve the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as the proposal for a two state solution. It singles out only one side, and one side collectively, from soldiers to scholars, for blame and punishment.

It is therefore distressing, although not surprising, that CODEPINK ignores the history and legal status of Mizpeh Shalom, where the Ahava products in question are manufactured. In fact, Mizpeh Shalom is an Israeli Kibbutz founded in 1970 in an uninhabited area alongside the Dead Sea, near the sourthern boundary of the West Bank. According to the Oslo II accords, signed in 1995 by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Mizpeh Shalom is part of “Area C”, a huge section of the West Bank over which Israel, again by joint agreement, was granted full control, except over Palestinian civilians.

As Rabbis, we pray and work for an end to the insecurit of Israelis and the sufferings of Palestinians. This will not come about through movements which are one-sided, and which would rather demonize and blacklist, rather than focus on effective, realistic political change.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to purchase Ahava products at Ricky's, and to contact Dom Costello, Ricky's CEO, at 212 352 8545 X8 or by leaving a comment at Rickysnyc.com (click on “log in” and then “contact us”). Tell Ricky's that you expect them to give Israeli products the same access as those of any other democratic, law abiding country.

B'Shalom, In Peace

Rabbi Andy Bachman
Congregation Beth Elohim
Rabbi Ellen Lippman
Kolot Chayeinu
Rabbi Carie Carter 
Park Slope Jewish Center
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik
Congregation Mount Sinai
Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman 
Union Temple
Rabbi Sam Weintraub
Kane Street Synagogue
Rabbi Serge Lippe 
Brooklyn Heights Synagogue
Congregations listed for
purposes of identification only

Response from Brooklyn for Peace to Above Letter

A statement from Brooklyn For Peace In Reply to the Seven Rabbis

The July 23-29, 2010, Brooklyn Paper carried a letter signed by seven rabbis criticizing the boycott of Ahava Cosmetics as one-sided and suggesting that because the region of the West Bank where Ahava products are manufactured in an Israeli settlement is "Area C" under the Oslo Accords, therefore the area belongs to Israel. What follows is a reply from Brooklyn For Peace.

Brooklyn For Peace (BFP) renews its call to boycott Ahava products. We are returning to Ricky's on Montague Street in Brooklyn to press that chain to cease selling these illegally produced items. BFP has read the open letter of several rabbis against this boycott and, among the signatories, we recognize the names of people who have often stood up publicly for justice and reconciliation. We have asked for dialogue and discussion with the signatories we know best, not the sort of discussion in which people shout across each other, but rather, an honest exchange. However, while we await a response to our request for dialogue, we continue our campaign, because the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the horrific siege of Gaza continue unabated. As taxpayers and American citizens whose government is funding this Occupation, we feel a sense of urgency and responsibility in peaceful yet vigorous campaigns to bring pressure to bear to end the Occupation of Palestinian territory and its abuses. 

The abuse that probably poses the greatest threat to the possibility for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has been the constantly expanding settlement of Palestinian lands by Israelis who, with the backing of their government, take control of an area and its resources. Contrary to the rabbis' letter, Ahava products are, in fact, produced through unlawful appropriation of resources of the Occupied West Bank by a settlement located in the Occupied West Bank, under a partnership with organizations that profit from and fund the settlement of the West Bank. Specifically, Ahava's manufacturing facility is located in Mitzpe Shalem, which is located in the West Bank. Two West Bank settlements (Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia) own 44.69% of the stock in Ahava—Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd, according to certificates from the Israeli Registrar of Companies. Another 37% of Ahava is held by Hamashbir Holdings, an investment fund that also invests in the export of agricultural products from West Bank settlements.

What is the applicable law? As the Israeli High Court of Justice acknowledged in a 2005 decision, the West Bank is “held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation.” Consequently, as the Court stated, the legal regime that applies there is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Thus, all of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Miztpe Shalem and Kalia, exist in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Under the Convention, the only legitimate interests and duties of the occupying power concern the security needs of the people in the home territory of that power and the needs of the people being occupied. Settlement and expropriation of resources by civilians from the home territory are not lawful activities, and serve no security purpose for Israel. 

The consequences of the illegal settlement of the West Bank are not theoretical. Apart from the day-to-day hardships that the settlement infrastructure has created for Palestinians and the persistent violent harassment of Palestinians by settlers, the settlements are perhaps the single greatest obstacle to peace. 

The letter from the Brooklyn rabbis seeks to muddy the status, and therefore the role, of Mitzpe Shalem in obstructing peace. The letter correctly states that Mitzpe Shalem is located in what the now-defunct Oslo Accords had designated as Area C, the area in which all the illegal settlements are located. While the Oslo Accords initially placed that area under Israeli military control as part of a phased transition to Palestinian control, the Accords never transferred sovereignty over Area C to the Israeli government, as the 2005 High Court decision demonstrates. In any event, the transfer of Area C was blocked in 2000, by the Israeli government under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and the Oslo process came to an end. To suggest that Mitzpe Shalem is not illegal because it may someday be part of some future agreement is, at best, wishful thinking. The West Bank remains Occupied territory; the settlements remain illegal; there can be no peace agreement as long as Israel continues its settlement project. Mitzpe Shalem remains an obstacle to peace, not part of the solution. 

The rabbis criticize the boycott movement for not taking a position on “positive attempts to resolve the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . .” In fact, our Ahava boycott campaign is precisely a positive attempt to remove one of the greatest obstacles to peace--the illegal settlement of the West Bank--and to restore a commitment to international law and respect for human rights. There can be no positive move toward peace without a commitment to law and human rights. The rabbis' misguided call to support Israel by buying these illegally produced products for the profit of illegal settlements is antithetical to any call for peace or justice. And there can be no peace without justice.

We therefore renew our call to boycott Ahava products.

September 28, 2010
Brooklyn For Peace
718-624-5921
www.brooklynpeace.org

The Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel) Letter of Support

June 9, 2010 
The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace describes the campaign as an important step in the struggle against the occupation of Palestine, against the oppression of the Palestinian people and towards a just peace for all inhabitants of the region.

CWP_Ahava_Stolen_BeautyLett.jpg

Letter from Linda Frank to Blake Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom Incorporated

April 20, 2010
Letter from a consumer disappointed that Nordstrom will remain in violation of its own Social Responsibility Guidelines by continuing to carry a product that violates human rights and international law.

Dear Blake Nordstrom,

I'm a longtime Nordstrom shopper who is recently disappointed to hear from Nordstrom management (Tara Darrow in Publicity and Linda Peffer in Social Responsibility) that Nordstrom will remain in violation of its own Social Responsibility Guidelines by continuing to carry a product that violates human rights and international law. And fraudulently labels its products.

The company in question, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, mislabels its products as being from "Israel" when, in fact, the products are made from stolen Palestinian resources in an illegal Israeli settlement, Mitzpe Shalem, in the Occupied West Bank. All Israeli settlements are illegal according to Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. Plundering the resources of occupied people is prohibited as well.

When I learned that Nordstrom "had no plans to make changes in [its] relationship with Ahava" (Tara's response to me is inserted in-between my two email letters), CodePink Women for Peace called on people of conscience to similarly appeal to Nordstrom to stop carrying Ahava products. To date, more than 2,700 emails have been sent to Linda and Tara.

I hope you will hear, and respond affirmatively, to the appeal.

Additional to the scrutiny Ahava has received by the UK parliament and the Dutch Foreign Ministry for "fraudulent labeling", the European Union recently handed down a decision that settlement products, such as Ahava, are not covered by trade agreements between the E.U. and Israel. 

I recently learned that the Ecumenical Council for Social Responsibility is appealing to retailers in the UK to stop carrying settlement products because those products are "undermining peace efforts". You can read about the Ecumenical Council for Social Responsibility here

I also recently learned that Ahava failed to respond to violations of international law and human rights that were registered with the Business & Human Rights Resource Center.

I today emailed the info in the two paragraphs immediately above to Tara and Linda.

I urge you to walk the talk of Norstrom being a socially responsible business. Please, stop carrying Ahava Dead Sea Laboratory products.

Sincerely,

Linda Frank 

Letter to Lonely Planet Guidebooks

April 13, 2010 
When Lonely Planet guided its travelers to the Ahava Factory Outlet and Store in a settlement in the occupied West Bank, readers questioned what other human rights violators they had unknowingly patronized.

April 13, 2010

Dear Lonely Planet,

In preparation for an upcoming trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, my husband bought me a copy of your guide. He vetted a number of guides trying to find the one with the most reliable information and with a clear-eyed, balanced view of the politics of the region. And, as usual, Lonely Planet came out on top.

Unfortunately, as I perused the book further, I found on page 335 in the Dead Sea section a recommendation for shopping at the Ahava Factory Outlet and Store. To quote your book, "Want to enjoy the benefits of Dead Sea mud at home? Drop by the AHAVA factory for great bargains on its excellent skin- and hair-care range, which is based on Dead Sea minerals."

I'm guessing that you are unaware of an international boycott campaign against Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of its illegal practices. Ahava products are made in a factory that is based in an illegal settlement named Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank. Ahava is 43% owned by two illegal settlements (Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia), which means that the company's profits are subsidizing Israel's illegal settlement project in the West Bank, which is an impediment to a just peace in the region. The company excavates mud from north of the Green Line on the shores of the Dead Sea, thereby exploiting occupied natural resources for profit. It also labels its products as "Products of Israel," when they are clearly what are commonly referred to as "settlement products." The Dutch Foreign Minister has called for an investigation into Ahava, and a British Minister of Parliament recently denounced the company's fraudulent labeling practices. You can find more detailed information on the boycott campaign, including voluminous press links, at the Stolen Beauty site (www.stolenbeauty.org). You can read more about Ahava and other settlement industries on the excellent site Who Profits (www.whoprofits.org), which is a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace.

Thanks so much for your attention. Thanks for your excellent travel guides. And thanks for taking this information into consideration as you plan your next edition of "Israel & the Palestinian Territories."

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian

Linda Frank's follow-up letter to Nordstrom's Social Responsibility Office

April 9, 2010 
Dedicated shopper tells Nordstrom that regardless of how the issue of labeling is handled under lax U.S. customs regulations, the fact remains that the Ahava factory is located in occupied Palestinian territory.

April 9, 2010

Dear Tara and Linda,

In follow-up to our email conversations about Ahava, while I await a copy of the customs documentation that Elizabeth DeMaria said she'd ask her corporate office for permission to send to me, I thought it important to clarify with you that regardless of how bureaucratic and/or private entities may have finessed the issue of labeling vis a vis customs, there still exists the fact that the Ahava factory is located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and not in Israel. Therefore, the request remains for Nordstrom to stop carrying Ahava on the factual grounds that it is a product of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and should be labeled as such. Customers who are interested in human rights and the rule of law have a right to know which products are contributing to violations of human rights and international law - which is true for all products that support any and all settlement endeavors. Ahava's products are clearly - no matter what their customs designation - made in an illegal Israeli settlement in violation of international law. The policies that enable Ahava's products prohibit the indigenous Palestinians from accessing their own land. The resources used to make Ahava products are Palestinian resources (in addition to being endangered resources).

The mislabeling of Ahava products is not a matter of opinion. It is, simply, fact. Here, from Wikipedia, for example: Mitzpe Shalem ( lit. Shalem Lookout) is an Israeli settlement and kibbutz located about 1 km from the western shores of the Dead Sea in the eastern West Bank.  Take a look at the map provided on this page. You can see Mizpe Shalem clearly denoted in the Occupied West Bank area. 

Under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel's settlements are illegal (The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies and are thusly considered by - I think it's fair to say - all of the international community.

Previous and current US Administrations considered and still consider Israel's illegal settlements a major impediment to peace.

Anyway, international law would overrule all US law as "Supreme law of the land" by virtue of Article Six of the US Constitution: "…all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." 

Therefore, I and the thousands of others who emailed you, will continue to call for Nordstrom to abide by the letter and spirit of your Social Responsibility Guidelines.

Even Israeli women are alerting people to products like Ahava that support and prolong the cruel practices and policies of Israel's 43-year occupation of Palestinian land and lives. Please visit the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace's website
www.whoprofits.org

And please do visit also the website I referred you to in my original letter of request, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. 

Also the perspective on illegal settlements of the Jewish-American organization Americans for Peace Now

Why would Nordstrom insist on supporting policies that violate human rights and international law? And endanger American lives and interests, something even General Petraeus recently acknowledged? 

I've been a Nordstrom shopper from head to toe, literally, since I came to Washington in 1995. I have four pair of Joseph Siebel shoes; and nearly every day wear the Alexis Bittar lucite hoop earrnings I'd bought a couple months ago. My everyday purse is a Hobo bag from Nordstrom; my everyday watch, a wide-band Anne Klein. All bring many compliments, as do my Misook pieces. The majority of my blouses and sweaters are Eileen Fisher, all from Nordstrom with the exception of one from the Eileen Fisher Seattle store. All lovely (and expensive items) that I've proudly divulged as having come from Nordstrom.

Now my existing Nordstrom attire will provide an opening to a "teaching moment" about Nordstrom's Social Responsibility policies…and, I hope, soon, about Nordstrom's ethics to abide by those policies.

Sincerely,

Linda Frank

Letter to Ricky's

February 12, 2010
CODEPINK tells chain drug store Ricky’s to dump settlement products: Ahava puts a pretty face on its crimes, but around the world people are standing up to the lies.

12 February 2010

Dear Dominick Costello,

It's almost Valentine's Day. Please have a heart! Stop carrying AHAVA Cosmetics at Ricky's NYC.

Ahava promises “Beauty Secrets from the Dead Sea.” But wait until you hear those secrets! Because Ahava is hiding the ugly truth—its products come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Don't let the “Made in Israel” sticker fool you—when you buy Ahava you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Ahava puts a pretty face on its crimes—defending its theft of Palestinian resources by claiming: "The Dead Sea and its treasures are international and do not belong to one nation.” This statement defies international law, and around the world people are standing up to Ahava's lies. The Dutch Foreign Minister has called for an investigation into Ahava; A British Minister of Parliament recently denounced Ahvava's labeling practices as “fraudulent”; and there have been boycott actions in Amsterdam, Paris, Montreal, London, Vienna, and around the United States. 

Mr. Costello, don't you want to be on the right side of history? Stand up for a just peace for the people of Israel and Palestine. There is no love in occupation. Stop carrying AHAVA.

CODEPINK Women for Peace

Letter from Linda Frank to Tara Darrow, Nordstrom’s Director of Public Relations

February 4, 2010
A consumer calls out Nordstrom for ostensibly valuing social responsibility while simultaneously supporting the Israeli occupation.

Dear Tara,

Thanks for your voicemail last Friday regarding my request for Nordstrom to honor the global boycott of the Ahava products that are supporting Israel's illegal occupation/apartheid. As I mentioned to you in my voicemail of Monday, I want to respond to your message that there were no plans to change the Nordstrom relationship with Ahava. Based on what I've most recently learned from the Nordstrom website, it looks like removing Ahava products will be in Nordstrom's interest as well as the interest of human rights worldwide.

I've been a Nordstrom shopper since I came to the Northwest fifteen years ago, and I'm very pleased to learn that Nordstrom values social responsibility. So do I. Several years ago I pulled my money out of the stock market because I was so alarmed at the growing practice of CEO's firing thousands of workers and in turn taking massive bonuses and golden parachutes for themselves. I do not want to make money off people losing their jobs. One of the things my rabbi taught was that providing jobs was one of the best things you could do for others. I think that's universally true.

I also believe it's critical to stand up for people who have little or no power to protect themselves. That's why, when I learned in 2001 how the Israeli government was dispossessing Palestinians of their land, their livelihoods, and their lives, I took 15 months unpaid sabbatical from my six-figure income to stand up for Palestinian rights and freedom. I was equally motivated to defend the tenets of Judaism I'd come to learn and love. The two defenses are, for me, synonymous. 

I'd like to call your – and Linda's (I'm cc-ing her to this email) attention to the fact that one of Nordstrom's Social Responsibility guidelines calls for accurate labeling of products. From the Nordstrom website:

All products must be accurately labeled and clearly identified as to their country of origin.

Ahava does not accurately label its products. From one of the links on CodePink Women for Peace's www.stolenbeauty.org website, Nancy Kricorian wrote:

"Ahava products are labeled as ‘Product of Israel,' but according to international law, including the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. This misleading labeling makes it difficult for consumers to identify the actual source of the products they are purchasing." 

I think you'd want to know there was discussion last month in the British Parliament regarding Ahava's fraudulent labeling. Here is an excerpt from a speech by MP Dr. Phillis Starkey posted (and edited) on the UK site Jews for Justice in Palestine: "I now turn to a specific case relating to cosmetics in which it seems to me that even more blatant fraud is occurring. Cosmetics, particularly from Dead Sea products, are very significant imports into the UK; there were 417 consignments of beauty and skincare products in 2009. I want to focus on Ahava, a firm that is part owned by two co-operatives based at Mizpe Shalem and Kibbutz Kalia. Both are in the occupied Jordan valley and both are on the EU list of settlements. The products that Ahava produces are based on Dead Sea mud, which is extracted at both those sites and processed at Mizpe Shalem. There is no evidence of any other production facilities and certainly none within Green Line Israel, although the head office is near Tel Aviv.

The Ahava website and product labels clearly give the postcode at Mizpe Shalem and then say "Israel", which is an incorrect description." See Full text of the debate

Additionally, the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has also called for an investigation into Ahava's mislabeling of their products as coming from "Israel."

Though it's not obvious from coverage in the US media, according to the 4th Geneva Convention of international law, all of Israel's settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal.

And most if not all US administrations have considered Israel's illegal settlements "a" (if not "the") major obstacle to peace in the region. You can read some of the opinion on the illegality of Israeli settlements from previous Adminstrations on the Churches for Middle East Peace website.

If you'd like to get a sense as to how adversely Israel's settlements affect life for Palestinians, there are several goods sources, among them B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: "As part of the regime, Israel has stolen thousands of dunams of land from the Palestinians. On this land, Israel has established dozens of settlements in which hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians now live. Israel forbids Palestinians to enter and use these lands. The existence of the settlements causes many violations of Palestinians' human rights, such as the right to housing, to earn a living, and freedom of movement. The sharp changes Israel made to the map of the West Bank make a viable Palestinian state impossible as part of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination."  Also 

And for more as to how the settlement matrix (e.g. the "Jewish-only" bypass roads, the hundreds of checkpoints throughout the West Bank, the separation wall/fence/barrier) harms Palestinians and the prospects for peace

When I learned that Oxfam's spokesperson Kristin Davis was being used by Ahava as a spokesperon, I wrote to Oxfam to share my concern. I'd been a longtime Oxfam supporter and felt the Oxfam good name was being tarnished by the dual representation. Oxfam immediately wrote me back to say that they'd suspended their relationship with Kristin Davis until the conflict of interest was resolved. I shared my correspondence with Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CodePink as well as Global Exchange (I had traveled to the besieged Gaza Strip last March with Medea and a CodePink International Women's day delegation that included Alice Walker and about 58 others). Thanks to CodePink's tenacity and outreach skills, the flack ended up on Page 6 of the New York Post. Kristin Davis is no longer Ahava's spokesperson.

My request for Nordstrom to remove Ahava products from its stores and website is therefore twofold: for Nordstrom to abide by its own Social Responsibility guidelines regarding product labeling; and, to honor the Palestinian-led call for an international boycott as a nonviolent way to bring an end to Israeli apartheid/occupation/siege.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu years ago condemned Israeli apartheid. 

Nelson Mandela said, "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." 

The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) has released a report confirming that Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). 

Since there is such a dearth of accurate information about Israeli apartheid, as well as of the situation overall concerning Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian land and lives, I would be amenable to giving you both as much information and as many resources as you would like. I would also be amenable to creating a PowerPoint presentation that I could bring to your office, or I could simply come in to speak with you and other executives if you would like for me to do that. 

I look forward to your response, and hope to hear news that you'll be removing Ahava from your shelves.


Sincerely,

Linda Frank 

Letter to the Editor of Fortune Small Business

December 12, 2009
Stolen Beauty responds to article: “Turning Dead Sea Mud into Money” by discussing the illegality of “pillage” or “plunder” under international humanitarian law.

In her article “Turning Dead Sea Mud Into Money” (12/10/09), Michal Lev-Ram states, “…Ahava won't say whether its merchandise has ever been officially boycotted in the U.S.” While Ahava may not have wanted to answer Ms. Lev-Ram's question, by putting the words “Ahava” and “boycott” into a Google search, the answer is easily obtainable.

In June 2009, CODEPINK Women for Peace, a U.S.-based peace and social justice organization, launched a boycott campaign against AHAVA that we called Stolen Beauty (www.stolenbeauty.org). We chose AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories as a boycott target because the company's practices are in violation of international law. International activists in Canada, England, France and The Netherlands have joined the Stolen Beauty boycott campaign.

Ahava's main factory and its visitors' center are located in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. (All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that, “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies.”)

Not only does Ahava profit from the occupation by locating its main plant and store in an illegal Israeli settlement, it also uses in its products mud from the Dead Sea, excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit. This “pillage” or “plunder” is illegal under international humanitarian law, specifically under Articles 23, 53 and 55 of the Hague Regulations; Articles 51 and 53 of the 4th Geneva Conventions; and Article 8(2)(b) of the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

Ahava products are labeled as ‘Product of Israel,' but according to international law, including the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. This misleading labeling makes it difficult for consumers to identify the actual source of the products they are purchasing. There are many consumers who buy Israeli-made products but who would not purchase a product that they knew to be made in Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank. The settlements are an impediment to a just peace in the region, and the Israeli companies that base their operations in the occupied West Bank are considered to be war profiteers.

In her account of the Ahava/Kristin Davis/Oxfam controversy, Ms. Lev-Ram uses an unclear antecedent in her sentence, “Oxfam denies these allegations,” leading the reader to believe that: 1. Oxfam is not against what are commonly referred to as settlement products; and 2. Oxfam denied suspending Kristin Davis. Both of these assumptions are, of course, false, as is clear in the New York Postarticle about the controversy.

In November 2009, the Dutch Foreign Minister agreed to launch an investigation into the conditions under which Ahava products are made to ascertain whether the company's location and practices contravened international law and European Union labeling regulations. Immediately after this announcement from the Dutch government, the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom sent an open letter to Ahava's management calling on them to “read the writing on the wall” and move their factory out of the Occupied West Bank.

Ms. Michal's article also paints boycotts against Israeli products as being lead by “pro-Palestinian” and “anti-Israeli” groups. The fact is that the growing international Ahava boycott movement is a “pro-peace” initiative—and a just and sustainable peace in Israel and Palestine can only benefit both Israelis and Palestinians.

Sincerely,

Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Campaign Manager
CODEPINK Women for Peace

Publicist Letter

September 16, 2009
Stolen Beauty campaign manager writes about Ahava spokesperson Kristin Davis’ being suspended from Oxfam publicity work because the organization is against what they know are "settlement products."

September 16, 2009

Dear Publicist,

We at CODEPINK Women for Peace are writing to you today to urge your clients to decline any request that might be forthcoming from Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories to serve as a spokesperson. As you might know, CODEPINK (www.codepinkalert.org) is well known for its use of non-violent direct action in opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the wake of Israel's attack on and blockade of Gaza, we have joined the international movement to push Israel to adhere to international law and to respect the human rights of Palestinians.

This past spring CODEPINK launched a boycott campaign against the Israeli cosmetics company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. At the time, Sex & the City star Kristin Davis was working as a spokeswoman for Ahava, as well as a Goodwill Ambassador for Oxfam. We reached out to Ms. Davis asking her to end her connection with Ahava, a company whose practices blatantly contravene international law.

Ahava's main manufacturing plant and its visitor center are located in an illegal Jewish settlement in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. (All these settlements are illegal under international law and are an impediment to peace in the region). In addition, Ahava also excavates mud from the shores of the Dead Sea. According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to exploit for profit the natural resources of an occupied territory. Ahava also labels its products as "Product of the Dead Sea, Israel" when they are actually from the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. This labeling is blatantly misleading and the European Union is working on legislation to make it illegal.

In response to our campaign, Oxfam began circulating a letter saying that they had suspended Kristin Davis from publicity work because the organization is against what they called "settlement products." This apparent conflict of interest was reported on Page 6 of the New York Post. Less than a month later, Gawker reported that Ahava had fired Kristin Davis, in part because of her connection to Oxfam. Davis's representatives said only that "the contract had expired."

We assume that Ahava will be looking for a fresh and beautiful new face to use to burnish their tainted image. We urge you to prevent Ahava from using the good name of one of your clients to whitewash their illegal practices.

Thanks for your attention to this important matter. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,


Nancy Kricorian
Stolen Beauty Campaign Coordinator
CODEPINK Women for Peace

CODEPINK launches boycott in letter to AHAVA

July 15, 2009
CODEPINK launches boycott in letter to Ahava: “Until your company shuts down the factory in the occupied territory of the Palestinian West Bank, stops exploiting the natural resources of the occupied West Bank for profit, and stops using AHAVA profits to fund/subsidize Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank, we will be boycotting your products and educating the public about your illegal practices.”

July 15, 2009

Ms. Elizabeth DeMaria, Executive VP
Ahava North America
410 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10018 USA

Dear Elizabeth DeMaria

We are writing to let you know that our organization, CODEPINK Women for Peace, is launching a boycott campaign called STOLEN BEAUTY (www.stolenbeauty.org) against the products of your parent company, AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories, because of its flouting of international law.

We recently sent a human rights fact-finding delegation to Israel, and this delegation confirmed that Ahava goods, while bearing labels saying that Israel is their country of origin, are being produced in violation of international laws that prohibit an occupying country, Israel, from taking the resources of the occupied territory, Palestine. Additionally, Ahava profits are going to support Israeli settlements that are illegal under international law. This is why our women's peace group, CODEPINK, is launching a campaign to encourage people to boycott Ahava products.

Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about profiting from an illegal occupation. Until your company shuts down the factory in the occupied territory of the Palestinian West Bank, stops exploiting the natural resources of the occupied West Bank for profit, and stops using AHAVA profits to fund/subsidize Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank, we will be boycotting your products and educating the public about your illegal practices.

If you would like to meet to discuss this matter, you can reach us at CODEPINK's New York office at 646-723-1781. But our campaign will continue until the above conditions are met.

Sincerely,

CODEPINK Women for Peace

Letter to Kristin Davis - 2

July 15, 2009 
CODEPINK asks Kristin Davis to stop representing Ahava and notes what Oxfam says about deceptive packaging: "Consumers that are buying produce that are grown in illegal settlements need to have that information so that they can make an informed choice."

July 15, 2009

Dear Kristin,

We are writing to ask you to please take a deep look at the beauty company, Ahava, that you represent and resign your position as a spokeswoman for Ahava products.

We know how much you care about the environment and animals, and applaud your great work as an Oxfam Goodwill ambassador. That's why we were so shocked when we discovered that you were the spokeswoman for the Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli company that makes its products in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, located in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and uses stolen Palestinian natural resources.

We recently sent a human rights fact-finding delegation to Israel, and this delegation confirmed that indeed Ahava goods, while bearing labels saying that Israel is their country of origin, are being produced in violation of international laws that prohibit an occupying country, Israel, from taking the resources of the occupied territory, Palestine. Additionally, Ahava profits are going to support Israeli settlements that are illegal under international law. This is why our women's peace group, CODEPINK, is launching a campaign to encourage people to boycott Ahava products. (See http://www.stolenbeauty.org).

By hiring you as their spokeswoman, Ahava wants to use your pretty face and your image of purity and wholesomeness to hide its crimes. 

Here's what Oxfam itself has to say about Ahava's deceptive packaging:

"The settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international humanitarian law and that creates a lot of problems for the Palestinians that live there."

"Consumers that are buying produce that are grown in illegal settlements need to have that information so that they can make an informed choice."

Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about profiting from an illegal occupation. Kristin, don't let Ahava use you to cover up their crimes. Please reconsider your association with Ahava and resign. If not, we will urge our friends at Oxfam to ask you to step down and we will bring our Stolen Beauty campaign to your pubic appearances.

We hope you will join the growing movement---that includes former President Carter, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch-working for peace and justice in the Middle East.

Sincerely,

CODEPINK Women for Peace

Letter to Kristin Davis - 1

June 6, 2009 
First appeal to then Ahava spokesperson Kristin Davis’ conscience as a person who cares about the environment and animals, and who did great work as an Oxfam Goodwill ambassador.

June 6, 2009

Dear Kristin,

We know how much you care about the environment and animals, and applaud your great work as an Oxfam Goodwill ambassador. That's why it's so important that you learn more about how Ahava products come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem.

By hiring you as their spokeswoman, Ahava wants to use your pretty face and your image of purity and wholesomeness to hide its crimes. But here's what Oxfam itself has to say about Ahava's deceptive packaging:

"The settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international humanitarian law and that creates a lot of problems for the Palestinians that live there."
"Consumers that are buying produce that are grown in illegal settlements need to have that information so that they can make an informed choice."

Don't the facts about Ahava make your skin crawl? Ahava means love in Hebrew, but there is nothing loving about an illegal occupation. You can learn more about Ahava at www.codepinkalert.org/stolenbeauty. Kristin, don't let Ahava use you to cover up their crimes. Beauty is more than skin deep.

Sincerely,

CODEPINK Women for Peace

STAY CONNECTED!

 

GET UPDATES

 
Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.
STOLENBEAUTY.ORG IS A PROJECT OF CODEPINK. STOLENBEAUTY.ORG © 2015
Created with NationBuilder