I sent Boychik off to his summer program in Israel with an extra $100 in his pocket and instructions to bring me back as much Ahava hand cream as that will buy. Ahava is my favorite — smells nice, absorbs quickly and does what it’s supposed to — but it’s too pricey here in the U.S. for me to indulge too often. I also like buying Israeli products when at all possible, thinking I’m doing my little bit to support the country’s economy.
I didn’t even realize until this week that in the process, I was also supporting a company under siege.
Turns out that a campaign called “Stolen Beauty,” by the people of Code Pink, is pressuring retailers to pull Ahava products from store shelves because, they say, it is manufactured on the “illegal settlement” Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem.
The kibbutz, which sits on the western edge of the Dead Sea, contains a plant that refines Dead Sea ingredients for Ahava products.
According to Code Pink:
[Ahava’s] products actually 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. Don’t let the “Made in Israel” sticker fool you—when you buy Ahava products you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.
This isn’t the first effort to damage Ahava by pro-Palestinian advocates.
According to this cosmetics industry website, beauty products retailer Sephora, which is owned by luxury goods umbrella Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, was taken to court in Europe last year by the France-based pro-Palestinian group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, which calls Israel “racist.”
According to this article in the Brooklyn Paper about a recent Code Pink protest at the Brooklyn Heights location of Ricky’s, the trendy beauty products and costume chain, their protest is spurring those who disagree to up their Ahava budgets. The manager of the Brooklyn Heights Ricky’s store says “People seem so pissed about this that we’re selling more of this stuff than ever before,” he laughed.
It looks like Code Pink doesn’t have much credibility among American consumers. If the Code Pink people want to boycott the blockade of Gaza, why don’t they start by boycotting Egypt and Egyptian products? After all, Egypt’s blockade of Gaza has been arguably as problematic for the Palestinians there as Israel’s had. But of course they don’t. Because campaigns like these are, ultimately, a larger effort to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel in international eyes through the BDS, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel movement.
One of the most distressing aspects of this effort, to me, is that Jewish women, notably writer Gayle Brandeis and Rae Abileah are involved. It’s one thing to be anti-war. It’s quite another to be anti-Israel.