Despite international law’s prohibition on exploiting the natural resources of occupied territory, for decades Israel has allowed Israeli private entrepreneurs to profit from the resources at two main sites in the Jordan Valley in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank.
Ahava, the Dead Sea Cosmetics brand name and business, is located within the Mizpe Shalem settlement. The business is the best known Israeli enterprise that uses the plentiful black mud on the shores of the Dead Sea to manufacture a variety of products. The mud has a rare high concentration of minerals – magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potash - which soak up water and maintain a liquid state, becoming a natural moisturizer. Throughout history, this natural mud has been thought to contain almost mystic therapeutic qualities, especially for persons with skin and joint ailments. The enterprise praises itself, on its website, as “the only cosmetics firm in its natural environment,” and, therefore, it protects the environment, “only taking what it requires, and enabling Nature to effortlessly replenish itself.”
The company was founded in 1988. It is owned by the Mizpe Shalem and Qalya settlements and by Israeli firms controlled by Gaon Holdings. The company does not provide figures on its sales turnover, the number of employees, or exports, but a press report valued the company in 2008 at $72 million. The report stated the company had 200 employees and operated a chain of shops marketing the Ahava brand in 29 countries. Tourists on their way to tourist sites in the area stop by to visit the company’s visitors center.
[Source: B’Tselem report Dispossession and Exploitation: Israel’s Policy in the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea, p.41]
The US-driven Stolen Beauty Campaign has been the most successful campaign in educating and alerting consumers to the “ugly secrets” of Ahava beauty products. Their website has a number of resources which have been used to successfully challenge Ahava stockists around the world; you can start by looking here:
AHAVA: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products
- Who Profits, May 2012
This report investigates the business and trade of Ahava – Dead Sea Laboratories which is a private Israeli cosmetics corporation that operates from the occupied West Bank. The report shows that Ahava extracts the mud from occupied Palestinian territory, thereby exploiting Palestinian natural resources.
BDS VICTORY IN NORWAY: Major Norwegian retail chain stops sales of occupation products from Ahava
- Norwegian People’s Aid, 27 March 2012
Norwegian retail chain VITA made public on Friday their decision to stop all sales of products originating from settlements in occupied Palestine. VITA will therefore stop selling products from the cosmetics brand Ahava. VITA has been the main retailer of Ahava products in Norway, and this decision will be a serious blow to the sales of Ahava products in Norway. The principled decision by VITA not to buy products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank is based on a position of not wanting to contribute to violations of international law. Read more here… or here…
BDS VICTORY IN JAPAN: Distributor drops Ahava because of the company’s illegal practices
- Nancy Kricorian, Mondoweiss, 27 February 2012
DaitoCrea, the general agent in Japan for Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, announced on its website that they would no longer be distributing Ahava products as of January 31, 2012. This decision is the direct result of a concerted campaign by the Palestine Forum Japan starting in 2010 to educate DaitoCrea and Japanese consumers about Ahava’s illegal practices. Activists wrote letters, organized a social media campaign, and eventually had a sit-down meeting with DaitoCrea. Once the Japanese agent was made aware of the legal and ethical issues involved with Ahava’s products, they began to take steps to sever ties with the company. Read more here…
Occupation profiteer Ahava soaks up EU science grants
- David Cronin, 5 August 2011, Electronic Intifada
Not for the first time, the European Union is in denial about how it is subsidizing Israel’s crimes. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU’s commissioner for scientific research, recently acknowledged that the cosmetics-maker Ahava was allocated more than €1 million worth of innovation grants from the Union over a period stretching from 1998 to 2013. Giving even one cent to Ahava involves facilitating breaches of international law because of the firm’s unlawful activities in the West Bank.
Read the complete article here…