DaitoCrea, the Japanese distributor for Ahava’s cosmetics line, announced last week that they will immediately stop carrying Ahava products. This move comes after BDS activists with the Palestine Forum Japan began a campaign in 2010 to pressure the distributor and educate Japanese consumers about Ahava’s illegal practices, according to a press release sent to The Electronic Intifada by the Palestine Forum Japan.
Ahava products are made in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, with resources taken from the Dead Sea in the West Bank. The cosmetics line profits that settlement and the settlement of Kalia, both of which are co-owners of Ahava. The products have been the target of boycott campaigns around the world, and more information and background can be accessed at stolenbeauty.org.
In the press release, PFJ states:
In addition to its efforts directed at DaitoCrea, members of the Palestine Forum Japan also met with the Consumer Affairs Agency, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informing them about Ahava’s occupation profiteering and the occupation’s harmful effects on the Palestinians of the West Bank. In a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May 2010, the Ministry confirmed that it was inappropriate for Ahava to label its goods as “Product of Israel” when in fact they were manufactured in the Occupied West Bank. This fraudulent labeling has also come under scrutiny in France, The Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.
This is the second major Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) victory in Japan, following on the success of the “STOP MUJI” campaign in 2010. Activists used a variety of tactics — including sending post cards, organizing a Twitter campaign, and staging in-store protests — to pressure MUJI, a large Japanese retail chain that sells consumer goods and electronics, not to open a planned store in Israel.
Building on these two successes, the Palestine Forum Japan will continue its work to support Palestinian rights. There is plenty to do as Israeli companies seek to deepen their reciprocal ties with Asian countries while losing market share in Europe and North America because of human rights campaigns.
Last July, a Hello Kitty store was opened in the suburbs of Tel Aviv; this is the first Japanese retail shop in Israel. Classic Japan, a cut flower import company, was for many years a trading partner of Agrexco, a now bankrupt Israeli agricultural supplier that sold products grown in illegal West Bank settlements. Classic Japan is now importing flowers from Bickel, another Israeli agricultural concern with greenhouses in illegal Jordan Valley settlements. In October of this year, Synergy Trading in Osaka began to carry SodaStream products, which are manufactured in the illegal settlement of Mishor Adumim. In December, a prominent theater director, Yukio Ninagawa, announced plans to stage “The Trojan Women” in Tokyos and Tel Aviv with sponsorship of both governments.
As our governments continue to allow Israel to flout international law with impunity — witness the blockade of Gaza, the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the confiscation of land in Nabi Saleh, Bilin and other villages, the home demolitions in East Jerusalem — it is up to global civil society to hold Israel accountable. It is through grassroots BDS efforts that citizens of the world can support Palestinian human rights and work to end Israel’s brutal occupation and its system of apartheid.
In a news report by the International Middle East Media Center based in the West Bank, Saed Bannoura writes:
An Executive at the DaitoCrea told the Palestine-Forum campaign that the company had no idea about the background of AHAVA when they started dealing with them, and had no idea about the location where AHAVA products are made.
AHAVA – Israel products are made in a settlement in the occupied Palestinian West Bank; settlements are illegal under International Law. AHAVA uses Dead Sea minerals and resources while the Palestinians are kept the Dead Sea out of the area due to Israel’s illegal policies.
The campaign informed the distributer that AHAVA labels their products as “Made In Israel” while in fact it is made in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied territories.