At the Russell Tribunal on Palestine London Session in November, 2010, Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories was found to be complicit with Israel's violations of international law. Ahava is an occupation profiteer and as such is the subject of an international boycott campaign.
Stolen Beauty campaign organizers Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah traveled to London to give a testimony on Ahava at the Tribunal.
See the video of their testimony here.
Note: The Ahava testimony begins at 23:33 and ends at 41:45. http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/10979722
- Read our press release about the Tribunal's findings.
See the video of the civil disobedience action activists in London organized at Ahava's flagship UK store during the Tribunal.
Learn more about the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an International People's Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East. The Russell Tribunal was founded by Bertrand Russell in 1967 to investigate the US war on Vietnam, and throughout the past forty years has held international tribunals on war crimes in conflict regions in Latin America, Iraq, and elsewhere.
- If you are interested in receiving a copy of our presentation power point or have other questions about the testimony, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our statement:
Statement to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine People's Jury
Submitted by Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah - October 2010
Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories (1) is a privately held Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures products using minerals and mud from the Dead Sea. Its products generate nearly $150 million in annual sales in thirty countries (2). The company's main factory and visitors' center are located in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank. (All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law (3)). 37% of the company shares are held by the settlement of Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, 34% by Hamashbir Holdings (the investment fund of B. Gaon Holdings and the Livnat family), 18.5% are held by Shamrock Holdings (the investment fund of the Roy E. Disney family), and 7.5% by the West Bank settlement of Kibbutz Kalia. (4)
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's 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, 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. (5)
Ahava labels its goods as "products of Israel" when in fact they are made in the Occupied West Bank. According to international law, including the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and even according to findings of Israel's own Supreme Court (6), the West Bank cannot be considered to be part of the State of Israel. The UN Security Council (6.1), the UN General Assembly (6.2), the United States (6.3), the EU (6.4), the International Court of Justice (6.5), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (6.6) refer to it as Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. Misleading labeling makes it difficult for consumers to identify the actual source of the products they are purchasing. Consequently, this labeling is under investigation in the Netherlands (7) and the U.K. (8), and activists in France have filed suit against Sephora for carrying these products because of Ahava's illegal practices. (9)
A journalist who was researching an article about the boycott campaign against Ahava received no reply from the company's spokesperson to his queries about the company's illegal practices, but an Israeli government spokesman offered this answer: “The Palestinians did nothing with this land when they had it…And the Palestinians still have access to the Dead Sea. If they wanted to, they could set up a factory themselves.” (10) This response was at best disingenuous, as it has been well documented that Palestinian access to the Dead Sea for even a day at the beach is highly restricted by the Israeli Defense Forces and their extensive system of roadblocks throughout the Occupied West Bank. (11) Additionally, the entire occupied area on the shores of the Dead Sea is classified as “Area C.” That means that in order to build there the Palestinians need permission from the Israeli Civil Administration. As reports from human rights and other organizations show, the Civil Administration does not allow any Palestinian construction in Area C. This is true for much smaller projects such as building toilet facilities for a school inside a Palestinian village, let alone building an entire factory. (12) So his statement is a blunt lie.
In conclusion, we find that the company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, because of the location of its factory and visitors center on occupied land, its subsidies to two illegal settlements and their residents that are co-owners of the enterprise, and its fraudulent labeling practices, is clearly an Israeli profiteer in Occupied Palestinian territory.
(1) Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories official web site
(2) Michal Lev-Ram, "Turning Dead Sea Mud Into Money: Transcending Politics and Ecology, an Israeli Cosmetics Firm Goes Global, Fortune Small Business," 10 December 2009
(3) Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention, Section III. Article 49, "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
(4) Information on the company's ownership structure found in the database of Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace
(5) Adalah's Interactive Map and Database on the History of the State of Israel's Expropriation of Land from the Palestinian People
(6) Mara'abe v. The Prime Minister of Israel, HCJ 7957/04, Israel: Supreme Court, 15 September 2005, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4374aa674.html [accessed 27 October 2010]
(6.1) Resolution 446, Resolution 465 and Resolution 484
(6.2) "Applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, and the other occupied Arab territories." UN, 17 December 2003.
(6.3) "Israel and the occupied territories", 4 March 2002.
(6.5)"Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory". International Court of Justice, 9 July 2004.
(6.6) Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention: statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross". ICRC, 5 December 2001.
(7) Meirav Crystal, "Holland to Probe if Ahava Products Made on Occupied Land," YNet, 18 November 2009.
(8) Jamie Welham, "Pro-Palestinian Protesters Claim Covent Garden Store Ahava are Mislabelling Products," West End Extra, 27 August 2010.
(9) Katie Bird, "Sephora Taken to Court Over Products from Israeli Brand Ahava," Cosmetics Design Europe, 28 May 2010.
(10) Liel Liebovitz, "Pink Panthers: Why the Antiwar Group CODEPINK has Targeted an Israeli Cosmetics Company," Tablet Magazine, 27 August 2009.
(11) "Palestinians barred from Dead Sea beaches to appease Israeli settlers" http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/palestinians-barred-from-dead-sea-beaches-to-appease-israeli-settlers-846948.html
(12) "The Prohibited Zone," Bikomon Report on Israeli Planning Policy in the Palestinian Villages in Area C, 2008