By London BDS
Just weeks after the UK’s only Ahava shop near Covent Garden closed as a direct result of regular demonstrations by human rights campaigners and months after major UK retailer John Lewis announced that it is no longer selling the poisonous brand comes news that Kings College London (KCL) is participating in an EU-funded nanoparticle research project alongside Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd.
Outraged students and faculty have called on KCL to immediately withdraw from the project, reject the grant it has received and take steps to ensure that the university does not find itself in a similar position in the future.
As a first step in achieving this goal, KCL students have created an e-petition that has been widely circulated and publicised, both in the UK and abroad.
The KCL-Ahava partnership attracts international condemnation
Within a fortnight, over 700 signatories including Noam Chomsky, Remi Kanazi, Ali Abunimah, Ahdaf Soueifas as well as academics, lawyers, artists, writers, journalists, filmmakers and people from all walks of life, in both the UK and throughout the world, have added their voices to call on KCL to immediately disengage from this project and distance themselves from Ahava.
One KCL student said: “We are asking all people of conscience, whether they are students or not, to add their name to the petition. We have been overwhelmed by the support and expressions of solidarity we have received and hope we can follow one success with another.”
The petition states:
King’s College London is conducting research in close collaboration with Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company partly owned by and located in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, deep in occupied Palestinian territory.
Ahava profits from, and helps to maintain, Israeli violations of international law. By collaborating with Ahava, KCL has itself become complicit with the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
Echoing the overwhelming international consensus on the illegal nature of Israeli settlements, we join KCL Action Palestine in calling upon the university to withdraw from the project immediately, reject the grant it has received as part of the project, and take active steps to ensure that the university does not find itself in a similar position in the future.
The campaign has been gathering momentum. Yesterday on October 12th, the University of London Senate voted to condemn ‘in the strongest terms‘ KCL’s collaboration with Ahava:
It has been recently uncovered that Kings College London is conducting joint research with Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories
Ahava is a commercial company located in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement in occupied Palestinian West Bank territory and hence illegal under international law
Ahava is profiting off Dead Sea resources that are being stolen illegally from the Palestinian land taken by Mitzpe Shalem
There has been a call by Palestinian civil society to boycott those companies implicit in Israeli war crimes, breaches of international law and abuses of Palestinian human rights
Ahava represents a company directly benefiting and profiteering from the occupation of Palestine and appropriation of Palestinian land
It is unacceptable for an academic institution to lend, not merely legitimacy, but active support and research for such an entity that breaks international law
By conducting research with Ahava, Kings College is itself implicit with criminal activity and abuse of human rights
To condemn in the strongest terms the research project between Kings College and Ahava, and demand the immediate severing of the project
To support the campaign led by academics and students at Kings College, to achieve this aim
Votes: 9 – for, 0 – against, 3 – abstentions
Ahava eligible for EU funding?
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU’s commissioner for scientific research stated that some of Ahava’s EU-funded research may have been conducted in the West Bank, despite the EU’s judgement that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal according to international law.
EU science grant applications state that projects that violate “fundamental ethical principles” are ineligible for funding, which leads one to ask why a €1 million grant was awarded to a company committing violations of international law while participating in this project.
Author/Activist David Cronin blogs more about this subject in an Electronic Intifada post entitled Occupation profiteer Ahava soaks up EU science grants.
- Petition against King’s College London involvement with Ahava (please sign)
- KCL Action Palestine Campaign Against Ahava Facebook page