Friday, July 31, 2009

AHAVA means love in Hebrew

There is a Jewish teaching: "Thou shall not derive personal pleasure or benefit from any product created through exploitation." AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company, is violating the basic principles of international law and Jewish ethics by profiting from the occupation of Palestine. Using resources from the ancient waters of the Dead Sea, AHAVA manufactures beauty products in an illegal Israeli settlement in Occupied Palestine.

AHAVA means love in Hebrew. But there's nothing loving about profiting from occupation. There's nothing loving about stealing resources from our neighbors.

As one of the first practicing women rabbis, as a Jew and as concerned human being, I endorse CODEPINK's new campaign to boycott AHAVA.

For over 40 years, I have been working to promote justice and reconciliation in the Middle East. I have watched more settlements, walls and checkpoints being built, and more Palestinians arrested and ground down by poverty, hunger, illness and oppression. After decades of working for peace through dialogue, I've come to believe that it's time to apply new tactics. It's time for us to listen to the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who are calling on us to boycott Israeli products made in Occupied Palestine. It's time to take the profit out of the occupation.

Join me in boycotting AHAVA. Pass this message to your friends and neighbors: The fruits of occupation are simply not kosher!  

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb 
Cofounder, Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence 
Member of CODEPINK

Today, CODEPINK is launching our STOLEN BEAUTY campaign to protest and boycott AHAVA.

Won't you join our boycott? 

Saturday, July 25, 2009


If you take a look at Ahavaís web site, you can read about the company's environmentally responsible practices: "Our manufacturing processes are non-polluting and environmentally conscious. No animals are involved in testing phases and all of our products are encased in recyclable tubes, bottles and jars." Ahavaís spokeswoman is fresh-faced Sex & The City actress Kristin Davis, whose commitment to doing good is evidenced by her status as an Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador and her position on the advisory board of The Masai Wilderness Conservation Fund. On the Ahava site, Davis is quoted as saying, "My personal beliefs, which include treating both animals and the environment with respect, are equally important to AHAVA."

If you navigate around the web site you will see pristine images of the Dead Sea, enticing products with beautifully designed labels, and a photo of a water lily leaf with the caption, "This leaf has nothing to hide." But, unfortunately, Ahava does have something to hideóan ugly secret about its relationship to a brutal occupation. The Hebrew word "Ahava" means love, but there is nothing loving about what the company is doing in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Ahava is an Israeli profiteer exploiting the natural resources of occupied Palestine.

AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company, has situated its main manufacturing plant and showroom at the Israeli Jewish settlement Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank near the shores of the Dead Sea. Mitzpe Shalem, built on occupied land in 1970, is an illegal settlement, as are all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Ahavaís capture of Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea is, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, a patently illegal use by an occupying power of stolen resources for its own profit. To add insult to injury, Ahavaís labels claim that the country of origin of its products is ìThe Dead Sea, Israelîóthis type of labeling has been decried by Oxfam, among other human rights groups, as blatantly misleading.

While we were working on putting together the new AHAVA boycott campaign we called STOLEN BEAUTY, CODEPINK led several delegations to Gaza, one of which never made it into the Strip because the Israeli government wouldnít let them through the Erez crossing. Several CODEPINK activists decided to take a fact-finding mission to the Ahava plant in the West Bank, corroborating what we had read about the plantís location and its practices. The women decided to seize the opportunity andówith the avid encouragement of the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian peace activists that they had metóthey went to the Ahava store at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv to stage a protest action. Some put on bikinis, wrote on their bodies with mud NO AHAVA/NO LOVE, while others carried signs with slogans such as ìThere is no love in occupation.î They chanted, sang and made the Israeli evening news.

About a week later, we heard that Kristin Davis was going to be at Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue promoting Ahava products and signing autographs. Two of us went to the store to deliver a letter to Davis, requesting she stop letting Ahava use her beautiful face and good name to cover up their crimes. She was less than receptive, and we were escorted out of the store. A week later, the CODEPINK bikini brigade showed up at the ìTel Aviv Beach Partyîópart of the Israeli governmentís multi-million dollar ìRe-brand Israelî campaignóin New Yorkís Central Park. The bikinis and our anti-occupation message made Fox News.

We recently sent letters to Ahavaís headquarters in Holon, Israel, as well as to Ahava USA and Kristen Davis, giving them notice of our boycott. We sent copies of these letters to Shamrock Holdings, the investment company of the Roy E. Disney family, which owns 19% of Ahavaís shares. On Monday of this week, CODEPINK women showed up in bikinis and mud at the Cosmoprof North America Trade Show in Las Vegas to let Ahava representatives know we were launching our STOLEN BEAUTY campaign.

We have sent letters to over 100 retailers requesting that they stop stocking Ahava products because Ahava helps finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians. In August weíll be outside a drugstore, department store or mall near you, exposing Ahavaís dirty secrets and showing that real beauty is more than skin deep. You can go to to find out how to join our campaign. And you donít have to wear a bikini to do it.

Check out photos from CodePink's protests in New York, Las Vegas and Tel Aviv.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PACBI: Open Letter to Leonard Cohen

PACBI: Open Letter to Leonard Cohen

Healing Israeli Apartheid, not its Victims?

PACBI -- Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, 16 May 2009

Last month, prominent academics from the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, BRICUP [1], urged you not to perform in Israel, arguing: “If you had just emerged from three weeks of unfettered bombing from land, sea and air, with no place to hide and no place to run, your hospitals overwhelmed, sewage running in the streets and white phosphorous burning up your children, what would the news that the great Canadian musician Leonard Cohen had decided to play for your tormentors say to you?” Citing a line in your famous poem, Questions for Shomrim, where you exclaim, "And will my people build a new Dachau and call it love, security, Jewish culture," a recent letter by mostly Israeli activists who support the cultural boycott [2] against Israel urged you not to cooperate with “continued Israeli defiance of justice and morality.” [3]

Today, after exhausting all attempts to convince you to apply your avowed humanistic principles in a morally consistent way by refusing to entertain Israeli apartheid and whitewash its still-fresh crimes, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) calls on all supporters of a just peace in our region to shun your concerts and CDs and to protest your appearances everywhere. We consider your performance in Israel a form of complicity in its grave violations of international law and trampling on human rights principles.

Your planned gig in Israel would come merely months after its bloody military assault against the occupied Gaza Strip which left over 1,440 Palestinians dead, of whom 431 were children, and 5380 injured. [4] The 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of whom are refugees who were expelled from their homes by Zionist forces in 1948, were subjected to three weeks of relentless Israeli state terror, whereby Israeli warplanes systematically targeted civilian areas, reducing whole neighborhoods and vital civilian infrastructure to rubble and partially destroying Gaza’s leading university and scores of schools, including several run by the UN, where civilians were taking shelter. This criminal assault comes after 18 months of an ongoing, crippling Israeli siege of Gaza which has shattered all spheres of life, prompting the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights to describe it as “a prelude to genocide”. International human rights organizations and UN organizations are now calling for a war crimes investigation into Israel’s military assault on Gaza.

For the last 41 years, Israel’s army has been occupying the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Despite the “peace process” which began 16 years ago, Israel routinely violates the Palestinians’ most fundamental human rights with impunity, as documented by local and international human rights organizations. Israel extra-judicially kills Palestinian leaders and activists; keeps over 11,000 Palestinians imprisoned, including numerous members of parliament; subjects all Palestinians under occupation to daily humiliation, intimidation and military violence; and continues to construct its colonial Wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice at the Hague in 2004.

You claim that your performance in Israel will somehow have a healing effect. Your message of healing cannot be more misdirected – those who need healing and solidarity the most are the Palestinian victims of Israel apartheid and colonial rule who are struggling to end oppression and injustice and to establish a just peace. By violating the Palestinian boycott against Israel you would bring back the ugly memory of artists who violated the boycott against apartheid South Africa and insisted to perform at Sun City, drawing condemnation and revulsion by people of conscience the world over.

As far back as 1984, Enuga S. Reddy, Director of the UN Centre Against Apartheid, responded to criticism that the cultural boycott of South Africa infringed the freedom of expression, saying [5]:

“It is rather strange, to say the least, that the South African regime which denies all freedoms ... to the African majority ... should become a defender of the freedom of artists and sportsmen of the world. We have a list of people who have performed in South Africa because of ignorance of the situation or the lure of money or unconcern over racism. They need to be persuaded to stop entertaining apartheid, to stop profiting from apartheid money and to stop serving the propaganda purposes of the apartheid regime.”

Entertaining any apartheid regime is morally wrong. No true humanist should disagree.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)


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