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.
Read our statement:
Statement to the Russell Tribunal
on Palestine People's Jury
Submitted by Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah - October
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.
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
(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
[accessed 27 October 2010]
(6.1) Resolution 446, Resolution 465 and Resolution
(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
(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