Dead Sea Kiosks

Soap & Co in Westfield (Stratford City).

Report/photos by Bruce, with thanks to Anne and Helen.    

If you visit a shopping centre, chances are that you’ll eventually come across a kiosk selling Dead Sea beauty products. These kiosks have attracted a lot of attention, not just for the origin of their natural resources, but also for their shady practices and coercive sales techniques that would make a snake oil salesman blush.  

Stop for just a few seconds to check the label and you’ll be approached by a young Israeli of the opposite sex, dressed in black and pawing at your hands to entice you to purchase an overpriced container of lotion. If you think they’re just being friendly, think again. Most of them work from scripts like this and this.

Kiosks stocking Dead Sea beauty products can be found in many malls run by Israeli companies who employ almost exclusively Israelis.

These kiosks are legitimate targets, as every sale supports companies who in turn support the apparatus of oppression in the racist apartheid state. Dead Sea Premier kiosks were targeted in April and July 2011 at malls in Auckland, New Zealand and in June and November, Seacret kiosks in Brisbane and Perth Australia were also targeted.

Seacret Flyer (Justice for Palestine, Brisbane)

The video below is an example of the sales tactics these companies use. Clearly this Israeli saleswoman won’t take no for an answer:

There’s uncertainty not just about the origin of any natural resources, but also about the immigration status of many kiosk workers. In December 2009, eight Israelis were arrested by the UK Border Agency in a Bristol mall and later deported. Arrests and deportations have also taken place in America, Canada and even New Zealand – where Israelis claimed to police that they weren’t being paid, but were volunteer goodwill ambassadors for the apartheid state!

In 2008, The Wall Street Journal published an insightful article entitled: Shalom, Christmas Shoppers: Israelis Sell Cosmetics, Toys at the Mall.

Unfortunately, since that exposé was published, the ‘cancer’ has spread.

A LEAKED US EMBASSY CABLE FROM TEL AVIV

The problem of Israelis working illegally at kiosks throughout America has become so serious that in January 2010, the former US Ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham sent a report to his bosses in Washington, DC entitled Dead Sea Cosmetics and Skincare Industry Fraud.

This diplomatic cable, posted on WikiLeaks, shed light on the activities of Israelis selling Dead Sea beauty products at kiosks throughout America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. It details widespread immigration fraud, worker exploitation, tax evasion, money laundering and the involvement of organised crime on a massive-scale. The original document is in a run-on format, so here’s an easy-to-read version.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv even went so far as to produce a video (below) warning Israelis of the risks of working illegally in America that is also endlessly played in the embassy’s waiting room, but it seems to have little effect, as many feel that stronger deterrents are needed.

The 2010 cable reveals that some Dead Sea cosmetic and skin care products that are labelled “Made in Israel” may actually originate elsewhere such as China, which has both ‘dead seas’ and cheap labour. One company allegedly manufactures soaps in the USA who employ illegal workers from Central America and then label the product as originating from the Dead Sea. Yet another reportedly imports soaps and lotions in bulk into Israel, where they are packaged before being exported and sold in America, taking advantage of Israel’s most favoured trading nation status to qualify for a reduced tariff on imported goods. 

Interestingly, the cable also reveals that most companies hire only those who have completed military service in the Israel Occupation Force – which of course excludes the overwhelming majority of Palestinians.

WESTFIELD

Two too many kiosks at Westfield: Onsen and Soap & Co

Westfield: Too many kiosks

A company called Gadi has kiosks at the West One Shopping Centre off Oxford Street, at Victoria Place near Victoria Station and at other locations in Central London while Southside Wandsworth centre has seen a Dead Sea Premier kiosk mysteriously come and go in only a few weeks and not surprisingly, at the Brent Cross Shopping Centre in North London, there’s a SeaSpa kiosk.

However, the lion’s share of kiosks can be found inside malls owned by the Westfield Group who manage over a hundred malls throughout America, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

At the Westfield malls at Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford, very close to the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, one can find Onsen and Soap & Co, who both use an Israeli sales force to flog their products.

When we raised the possibility that some of their tenants employ illegal workers, staff at Westfield Stratford didn’t seem too bothered, as the Australian-based group was co-founded by Zionist Frank Lowy,  a close confidant of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Westfield co-founder Frank Lowy: Veteran of the Haganah and Golani Brigade.

After arriving in Palestine from Hungry in 1946, Lowy served as a commando in the Haganah, precursor of the Israeli Occupation Force and later the notorious Golani Brigade who were very active during the Nakba, terrorising and murdering Palestinians in large numbers. In 1952, Lowy emigrated to Australia where he made his fortune building shopping centres. Now retired, Lowy reportedly spends much of his time in Israel.

A VISIT TO ONSEN

Here’s one person’s experience when stopping at Onsen’s kiosk in Westfield Stratford:

I was approached by a very friendly sales assistant named “Yoni” who told me that their products used technology and minerals that were more advanced than any other product.

Me being very cautious and aware of marketing tactics, I wasn’t at all convinced but he was extremely persistent. He wouldn’t allow me to leave until he’d show me the face peel, so he poured some of it on to my hand. It was a clear gel substance and he rubbed it around my hand and eventually it formed white and grey particles.

He told me that it was dirt and that a clean hand wouldn’t have that dirt and said if it could do that for my hand; imagine what it could do for an oily face.

However, I was aware that all the gel needed was body heat to form those particles and it was false advertising, but I just played along.

He then showed me the hydration cleanser and milk lotion cleanser and told me a bunch of facts behind the “natural” product. He then took me to the computer screen and showed me that on the Onsen website, the face peel product was US$129.95 online, but if I bought the product at the kiosk today, it would only be £60.00 or £120.00 for both products.

I thought this was an extreme rip-off for a product I had never heard of.

“Yoni” then told me: “I wouldn’t do this for everyone but I can see that you’re interested and I’m willing to offer you my personal employee discount for £30.00 a product or £60.00 for two.” (Inside I was laughing at the fact my acting skills worked). But I told him I still wasn’t interested.

At this point, I was approached by one of Yoni’s friends who tried to sell me something else. He applied some cream under my left eye and immediately he tried to convince me that he could see my skin tightening up and my eyes were less puffy and dark.

This was a complete lie because obviously the skin under my eye was still as dark as ever.

A popular consumer website, Complaints Board details a plethora of complaints against Onsen and other companies at Westfield and at other malls throughout America, suggesting that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

SOAP & CO

Companies such as Soap & Co often recruit using their own sites and Hebrew-language online noticeboards, as well as through informal social networks shortly before they complete their military service. Most Israelis who want to work overseas know its pretty easy to find a job “on the carts.”   

Here’s a Soap & Co recruitment video that promises “real money” in addition to the excitement of working in London:

272 Regents Park Road N3: The registered business address of Soap & Co. The rubbish skips outside are highly appropriate.

We visited Soap & Co’s registered address at 272 Regent’s Park Road N3 3HN in the north London Borough of Barnet ready to pose questions about their hiring of illegal workers and high pressure sales tactics.

As it turned out, the address was not that of Soap & Co, but of the auditing firm of Spencer Hyde Ltd who confirmed that they are Soap & Co’s accountants, but were not willing to divulge any further information concerning their connection with this elusive company.

So there you have it.    

It’s time the Home Office, UK Border Agency and HM Revenue & Customs take appropriate action to terminate this ‘industry’ which has an unsavoury record and proven history of flouting consumer protection, employment, immigration and tax legislation – as well as international law.

Their free ride will soon be over.

Fishing for customers at ‘Gadi’ in the West One Centre, off Oxford Street (Bond Street tube).

Another Gadi kiosk, but this time at Victoria Place, the mall above Victoria Station. Three other black-clad scam artists were out of camera shot.

Here’s the Onsen kiosk in Westfield London (Shepherd’s Bush).

And the Onsen kiosk in Westfield (Stratford City).

The Soap & Co kiosk in Westfield London (Shepherd’s Bush).

SeaSpa kiosk in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre (20 June 2012 update: This kiosk is now run by Gadi).

A visit to London’s World Travel Market

Security tight around Ahava’s stand at major UK travel exhibition

Two Israeli security operatives (circled) opposite the Ahava stand, ready to pounce on any demonstrators (or photographers) at London's World Travel Market.

Report by London BDS

Even though campaigners have been successful in closing the UK’s only Ahava shop, it would be premature to say that the campaign against the company is over, since our motto is: ‘The resistance must be continuous.’

In Wales, activists have been campaigning to rid Ahava from a local beauty salon with tactics that include leafleting, lobbying, filing complaints with Trading Standards and getting coverage in the local press.

Just last month, activists in Manchester held a demonstration inside a major beauty trade show where Ahava was exhibiting, showing the hundreds of exhibitors and visitors attending the ‘Professional Beauty 2011′ event that ‘there’s no beauty in occupation.’

And in London, Kings College students are presently campaigning to divest their university from its partnership with Ahava in an EU-funded research project.

So when we heard that Ahava was going to be exhibiting at the World Travel Market 2011, touted as ‘The Leading Global Event for The Travel Industry,’ we knew it was an opportunity to further publicise the campaign against this toxic brand and registered to attend the four-day event held at the ExCeL exhibition centre in East London’s Docklands.

Bringing along a good number of Ahava boycott campaign postcards on the day we visited, which was ironically dubbed ‘World Responsible Tourism Day,’ we found the location of the Brand Israel pavilion NOT in the Middle East area of the exhibition where you would expect, but in the EUROPE section, sandwiched between the Czech Republic and Romania.

Since when was Israel in Europe?

Under the Israeli big tent, there were about thirty-five agencies, municipalities, organisations and businesses that fuelled the apartheid state’s tourism and hospitality sectors. The larger exhibitors included the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the Jerusalem Tourist Authority, El Al airlines and the Dan Hotel chain.

There was also a refreshment and seating area in the centre serving up free Israeli wine and snacks. A noticeable number of vicious-looking, security staff dressed in ill-fitting suits and wearing earpieces hovered menacingly around, unintentionally providing the few visitors with a taste of what life for Palestinians unfortunate enough to live under Israeli occupation is like.

Free wine in the refreshment area. The busiest part of the apartheid state's pavilion.

A novel feature was a small patch of ‘Holy Land’ that visitors to the pavilion could walk on (without fear of being interrogated, detained, shot or deported).

The Israel Ministry of Tourism stand freely dispensed maps which identified the West Bank as ‘Judea’ and ‘Samaria’ and at the Jerusalem Tourism counter we collected literature advertising the 2012 Jerusalem Marathon. On a cover of a flyer promoting the event, the logo of Adidas, a major sponsor was mysteriously absent even though other sponsors logos were prominently displayed.

Another Dead Sea cosmetics company, Dead Sea Premier, who flog their dodgy products from kiosks staffed by Israelis in shopping centres, was also exhibiting. This company – just like Ahava – has a notorious background.

In December 2009, eight Premier employees who staffed a kiosk in a Bristol shopping centre were arrested (and later deported) for working illegally in the UK. And in January 2011, activists scored another BDS victory by successfully getting Premier’s kiosks removed from Irish and Scottish shopping centres.

‘More than you could ever imagine’ is Premier’s highly appropriate tagline.

Premier’s representative when questioned about the source of the natural minerals used in their products replied: “I don’t know,” despite the free samples being labelled ‘Made in Israel.’ When asked about Premier’s presence in West Bank settlements, the representative offered a brochure and left to speak to a colleague.

Dead Sea Premier: "More than you could ever imagine"

At the larger Ahava stand around the corner, the display stands were filled with a wide assortment of their stolen goods for sale, which was probably stock from their former Monmouth Street shop. The prices were crudely drawn on pieces of lined paper with a biro – something that looked very much out-of-place.

We were later to find out why.

Playing the part of a potential customer, I casually asked one of Ahava’s ambassadors if anyone had questioned the legality of their products. The representative nodded their head and in a quiet voice said, “I  know, but I can’t talk about it.

That said it all.

After walking and leafleting around the world for several hours distributing Ahava boycott campaign postcards and chatting to countless exhibitors and visitors, we attracted the attention of some Spanish and African reporters who wanted to know more about the campaign and interviewed us.

At the end of a very productive day, we paid a visit to see the organiser and asked why Ahava was permitted to exhibit and sell their illegal goods. Apparently, the sale of products at the exhibition was against the rules and we were told someone would investigate.

Unfortunately, no one was able to provide a reason why Ahava, given their notoriety, was even allowed to exhibit, but the person at the front desk did provide contact details of one Paul Nelson, Reed Exhibition’s PR Manager.

Not surprisingly, neither Mr Nelson nor anyone else from Reed ever returned our emails or phone calls.

Returning the next day to the Israel pavilion, I was pleased to see that our visit resulted in some success, as no Ahava products were being sold.

Word must have spread about our efforts, as there were more security staff at the Israel pavilion than during the previous day, along with fewer visitors. Success!

Our observations proved without a doubt that behind Brand Israel’s slick facade, something sure stinks.

This overzealous Israeli wanted this image deleted in the interests of 'security,' but this is the UK, not the West Bank.

An opportunity to safely walk on Palestinian land.

Caught! Packing up Ahava's stolen goods which are clearly visible in the boxes.

The Palestine pavilion, unlike Israel's, was in the Middle East area of the exhibition.

ASA complaint against misleading Jewish Chronicle advert UPHELD!

Advertising Standards Authority: Complaint UPHELD!

By London BDS

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made by a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) against Israel Lease Acquisitions Network (ILAN) Real Estate for its advertisement in the 24 June 2011 edition of the Zionist Jewish Chronicle ‘newspaper’.

The advertisement implied that the properties that ILAN offered were for sale in Israel, but Michael Shanahan, a member of the PSC, noticed that one of these featured, notably Efrat, was actually an illegal settlement.

The international community regard all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and not part of Israel.

Mr Shanahan commented:

“My interest in the matter goes back very many years; I read my history and discovered that the Palestinians had suffered the greatest of sorrows at a time when colonialism was being seriously  diminished. In present times, I am happy to meet many brave and honourable people of many different backgrounds who are prepared to speak out.”

The Jewish Chronicle: Misleading advertising.

The ASA’s adjudication stated that the Dekel development in Efrat is located in the occupied West Bank – in territory not internationally recognised as part of Israel – is likely to be highly relevant to consumers and that the omission of the information in the ad that was published in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper was misleading.

The ASA adjudication also noted ILAN’s violation of the Committee of Advertising Practice rules 1.7 (Unreasonable delay) and 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising).

ILAN Real Estate failed to respond to enquiries and thus Mr Shanahan’s complaint was upheld.

You can read the full adjudication here.

The Jewish Chronicle advertisement that was the subject of the complaint also mentioned that ILAN Real Estate had a stall at the Israeli Property & Investment Exhibition held in June at the Regents Marriott Hotel, near London’s Swiss Cottage that Londonbds.org covered in a post entitled Israel Property Exhibition – A Deserted Flop. This poorly attended event was picketed by human rights activists holding a banner that read ‘Stop Stealing Palestinian Land’. 

Outside the Israel Property Exhibition in June

The ASA decision is in line with its three previous rulings against the Israeli Tourist Board for advertisements that implied that the Occupied Palestinian Territories were in Israel.

In 2009, after receiving over six hundred complaints, Transport for London removed Israel Ministry of Tourism posters displayed at London Underground stations that showed a borderless map of Greater Israel that included the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

But no Gaza, West Bank or Golan Heights. Click to magnify.

In addition, this UK ruling follows one earlier in the year by the South African Advertising Standards Authority which ruled that Israel could be referred to as an apartheid state in a radio advertisement that included the words, “Be on the right side of history. Don’t entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel” spoken by the UK’s Dave Randall of the band Faithless, which was broadcast on 5fm, the mainstream South African radio station with over 2 million listeners.

The advert was in support of the South African Artists Against Apartheid coalition. In the advert Randall says:

“Hi, I’m Dave Randall from Faithless. Twenty years ago I would not have played in apartheid South Africa; today I refuse to play in Israel. Be on the right side of history. Don’t entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel. I support southafricanartistsagainstapartheid.com.”

Listen to the South African Artists Against Apartheid radio advert:

BBC take note.

The resistance must be continuous.

King’s College London collaboration with Ahava

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.

Noam Chomsky: Signatory

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

Union Believes;

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

Union Resolves,

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.

Links:

A final farewell to Monmouth Street

Report by Bruce, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)

Photos by Bruce/Tapash, London BDS

24 September 2011

On a sunny and mild Saturday afternoon, about ten campaigners, including two from Brighton, gathered one last time in front of the former Ahava shop on a day that would have been a fortnightly picket.  

Thanks to the regular protests, part of a campaign that started in 2009, Ahava’s landlord refused to renew its lease and on the 20th of September 2011, Ahava closed its only UK shop located on Monmouth Street, near to London’s Covent Garden.

Whilst campaigners were present, workmen were clearing out the last shop fittings and placing them in a nearby lorry. As seen from the photographs, the Ahava lettering was removed from the front of the shop and the inside was almost totally empty.

Outside was a skip whose contents included a few large plasterboard advertising panels and next to the skip were placed metal barriers stacked on top of each other, to be used for a demonstration that never materialised.

Ahava’s Managing Director of its UK arm, who also once served in the Israeli Occupation Force’s intelligence unit, spotted us and was last seen scurrying down Monmouth Street.

The only police presence was when a police car pulled up and its driver briefly exchanged greetings before speeding off. We were told on several occasions that there are many in authority who privately wanted Ahava out, though they had to be seen, quite understandably, to remain impartial.

After reminiscing over coffee, campaigners headed off to the Eid Festival in nearby Trafalgar Square to celebrate – which was a fitting end to this campaign.

Well done to all who made it a success.

A video report from infolive.tv, an Israeli news & information service:

And some images as well…

One last photocall.

Ahava: Rubbish inside, rubbish outside.

As no Zionist Federation riff-raff turned up, there were no need for these.

An empty shop brings this campaign to a close.

With love from London.

A Monmouth Street retrospective

With the welcome departure on September 20th of the Ahava shop from Monmouth Street, here’s a historical timeline of the London campaign, complete with links:

10 January 2009 Activists stage the first occupation of the Ahava shop on Monmouth Street in London. Three activists arrested. Charges later dropped.

14 February 2009 - Valentines Day picket outside Ahava shop organised by Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG). Monthly pickets held several times thereafter.

7 March 2009 - Ahava shop pickets continue attended by J-BIG and other activists.

18 September 2009 - Second Ahava occupation. Shop closed for several hours after two activists lock themselves to an oil drum filled with concrete inside the Ahava shop and are arrested for aggravated trespass.

19 September 2009 Ahava International Day of Action. Campaigners stage protests outside stores in London, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles.

12 December 2009 - Third occupation inside the Ahava shop. Two activists arrested for aggravated trespass.

19 December 2009 - Ahava bathrobe demonstration.

1 January 2010 - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (London) disseminates The Case Against AHAVA by CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty Campaign Manager, Nancy Kricorian.

27 January 2010 – MP Phyllis Starkey denounces Ahava’s fraudulent labelling practices during debate in Parliament on Israeli “settlement products”.

Early March 2010 – A grassroots coalition of activists propose holding regular fortnightly demonstrations outside the UK’s only Ahava shop in response to an appeal from the West Bank village of Bil’in.

13 March 2010 The first fortnightly demo outside Ahava attracts about thirty protesters and causes the shop to close early. Fortnightly demonstrations continue until 10 September 2011.

9/10 August 2010 - Trial of four activists, all charged with aggravated trespass, who locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the Ahava shop in Covent Garden in Sept and Dec 2009. All four are acquitted after the manager refuses to testify.

14 August 2010 – The Islamophobic English Defence League’s first appearance alongside the Zionist Federation at the Saturday fortnightly demo.

26 August 2010 Unknown person(s) target the Ahava shop with paint.

2 October 2010 - Fourth occupation inside Ahava forces shop to close. Two activists arrested.

20/21 November 2010 Unknown person(s) glue Ahava’s door locks, thus delaying the shop’s opening on the day of the Zionist Federation-sponsored BUYcott. The BUYcott doesn’t materialise when the right-wing English Defence League’s ‘Jewish Division’ announce they will also attend.

20-22 November 2010 - Ahava in the dock at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine London Session. CODEPINK’s Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah testify against the company. Ahava is found to be complicit in Israel’s violations of international law.

22 November 2010 - Fifth Ahava occupation during the last day of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. American CODEPINK activists Nancy Kricorian and Rae Abileah present. Ahava shop forced to close and two activists arrested.

9-24 December 2010 Boycott campaigners are present outside Ahava almost daily throughout December and influence shoppers in the run up to the festive season.

17 December 2010Ahava employee calls a Jewish boycott campaigner a Christ killer. Zionists defend anti-Semitic comment

14 January 2011 – Major UK retailer John Lewis confirms that it no longer sells Ahava products.

12 February 2011 – A Valentine for Ahava dedicated to the memory of Jawaher Abu Rahmah who was killed by tear gas while a bystander at an anti-wall demonstration in Bil’in.

21 – 23 March 2011 – Four activists on trial for aggravated trespass. During the three-day hearing, the defence demonstrated that Ahava cosmetics are manufactured on stolen Palestinian land. Neither the District Judge, Ian Baker nor the prosecution challenged the assertion that the settlements are illegal in international law. Though all four activists are found guilty, District Judge Baker in his summing up states: I reach this conclusion with considerable hesitancy.”

31 March 2011 - VICTORY! JCrap (the Zionist Jewish Chronicle newspaper) reports that Ahava’s landlord will not renew its lease due to the ongoing protests. A neighbouring shopkeeper tells a reporter: I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.”

20 September 2011Ahava leaves Monmouth Street as a direct result of the campaign that began in 2009.

24 September 2011Several activists gather for one last time in front of the almost empty Ahava shop, bringing the two-year campaign to an end.

Ahava’s last day

September 20th: Lights out for Ahava! Boxes packed and ready to go.

These empty shelves aren't the result of any Zionist BUYcott, but of the success of a campaign against this notorious company.

NO SALE!

This time the shop really IS closed!

September 21st: All the boxes have gone.

September 22nd: Looking more like a construction site.

September 24th: An empty shop brings this campaign to a close.

The above images are the end result of a successful campaign to cleanse London’s Monmouth Street of Ahava, a notorious retailer of Dead Sea beauty products made from natural resources plundered from the Palestinian people and manufactured on an illegal West Bank settlement.

Throughout this time, campaigners have engaged and distributed flyers to thousands of UK residents and international visitors informing them about Ahava’s unethical and illegal practices. 

This, the UK component of CODEPINK’s international ‘Stolen Beauty’ campaign has used many tactics including fortnightly public demonstrations, legal challenges, occupations and other forms of direct action. 

The Ahava Boycott Campaign proved successful due to the efforts, hard work and dedication of all the activists, truthtellers and human rights campaigners, some who made many sacrifices and all who gave so generously of their time.

Should Ahava relocate to other premises, activists vowed to continue the campaign.

Rotten Fruit Delivered to Apax Partners, Investor in Israeli Agribusiness

 
 
 
16 August 2011 – Campaigners for Palestinian human rights today delivered rotten fruit to the lobby of the London office of the British-American investment firm Apax Partners over its ownership of major stakes in Israeli companies that profit from Israeli violations of international law. The action was taken in line with the call from Palestinian civil society for divestment from Israeli companies.

Apax Partners: A rotten business.

Apax is a major shareholder in Agrexco*, the Israeli agricultural export company that plays a major role in the colonisation of Palestinian land by exporting 60-70% of agricultural produce grown in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

Having profited directly from Israeli colonisation of Palestinian lands and violations of international law since 2006, Apax Partners is now set to receive a huge windfall from the sale of the company. The Agrexco Agricultural Export Company is currently in the process of being sold to Israeli firm Kislev Forwarding and Customs Clearing Ltd for around £15.7m (NIS 90m). As a 11% shareholder, Apax Partners interest, Tnuva, will receive at least £1.72m for its shares. Non-Israeli companies have been successfully pressured not to buy the company.

Exports of agricultural produce help to make Israel’s illegal settlements economically viable and perpetuate the injustices faced by Palestinians. Apax Partners aided and abetted Israeli violations of the fourth Geneva Convention for five years and is now getting one final big rotten windfall. But this sale doesn’t absolve Apax of its legal and moral complicity with the illegal colonisation of Palestinian land.

Agrexco recently filed for bankruptcy and was put on sale after running up large debts in the wake of a Europe-wide boycott campaign.

Agrexco is a major target of the global movement for a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and has been subjected to popular boycotts, pickets and direct action. Some European supermarkets and fresh produce wholesalers have in recent years pledged to take action on Agrexco and its settlement produce in particular.

Quoted in a campaign press release earlier this month, Israeli economist Shir Hever said, “many Israeli farmers are abandoning Agrexco, possibly because of the campaigns against Agrexco in France, Italy, Spain, the UK and elsewhere. Maybe the Agrexco brand is no longer as appealing to farmers as it was before. It’s no coincidence in my opinion that Agrexco shows the first signs of strain.”

Palestinian solidarity groups from across Europe recently joined forces to escalate the campaign against the company.

After dropping rotten fruit on the floor of the lobby a picket was held outside the office.

As well as its stake in Agrexco, Apax Partners also has shares in Bezeq Communications, an Israeli telecommunications company that owns communication equipment that is situated in Israeli settlements on occupied territory.

Last September, campaigners disrupted an Olympic Ball sponsored by BT over its relationship with Bezeq.

Since the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in 1967 Israel has moved over 260 000 illegal settlers into these territories, flouting international law and United Nations resolutions. Palestinians have been forced off their land to make way for the settlements and, in many places, face daily harassment from violent settlers trying to intimidate them into leaving their homes.

* Apax holds a large amount of shares in Tnuva, who are a major shareholder in Agrexco

  • For further information about Carmel Agrexco, click here.  
  • For information about the global campaign against Agrexco, click here.  
  • For information about Bezeq, click here

This action was taken in memory of Simon Levin, lifelong campaigner for justice in Palestine, who died earlier this year.

BDS MOVEMENT PRESS RELEASE: BDS campaigners declare victory as international bidders for Agrexco drop out.

Ahava and TESCO BDS Protests – Saturday, 13 August

Report and Video by Seymour

Saturday 13th August 2011 – With London still in a state of shock, Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators at Ahava and TESCO tried to stir things up in their usual malign way, even though the similarity between the riots in London and the antics of the settlers on the rampage in the West Bank apparently passed them by.

Protesters at TESCO were entertained by a passing Hare Krishna group and by a nearby Zimbabwean demonstration.

Police disperse the few Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators who turned up.

Ahava and TESCO BDS Protests – Sat July 30th

 

 Video by Seymour

Report by Carl B.

Saturday 30 July 2011

On a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon, about thirty human rights activists came to protest and disseminate information to the public outside Ahava, London’s largest purveyor of illegal settlement goods.

Ahava is an Israeli cosmetics company that plunders natural resources from Palestinian land in direct contravention of both UK and International Law and is also the focus of an international boycott campaign. Activists once again reported that they received a great deal of popular support for the campaign against the Israeli retailer, with the general concensus being that it has no place in London or anywhere else in the world.

This was the latest in a series of fortnightly protests outside Ahava that began on 13 March 2010. A little more than one year later, it was announced that because of these protests, including legal challenges, occupations and other direct actions, Ahava’s landlord will not renew its lease when it expires in late September.

Ahava manufactures its stolen natural resources in a factory located in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank. Israel’s Supreme Court in 2004 ruled that the West Bank is governed under “belligerent occupation” and is not part of Israel, which is in direct contradiction to Ahava’s claim that its products both originate and are manufactured in Israel.

Not only are human rights activists keen to see Ahava go, but also most of the neighbouring businesses on Monmouth Street can’t wait for it to leave. As one  business owner said, “I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. I’ve complained to the landlords, as has everyone here. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.”

As much as we distain from talking about ourselves, news of our Ahava Boycott Campaign and other BDS actions throughout London has travelled throughout the world and inspired others to act against injustice, which is perhaps the greatest accolade we could receive.

Our protests regularly attract activists who visit London from throughout the UK and overseas. Today we enjoyed the company of an Australian solidarity activist who had heard about our success.

The Zionist Federation counter-demonstrators outside Ahava included a total of five people, including a Christian Zionist Welsh nationalist and an evangelical Messianic Jew who was observed trying to convert the three Jewish Zionists that were present!

After about an hour, campaigners took part in a lively procession to Covent Garden’s TESCO supermarket which sells both Israeli and illegal settlement produce. The procession included many Palestinian flags, a banner and chants.

The purpose of the Every Little Helps APARTHEID Campaign is to encourage consumers to check the label and not purchase produce labelled either ‘Israel’ or ‘West Bank.’ In 2005, Palestinian public organisations issued a call for an international boycott of both Israeli and settlement goods until Israel abides by International Law.

It was a good-natured action; activists – some dressed as fruit and some carrying signs – received lots of support and spent over an hour talking to the many visitors, tourists, residents and TESCO customers about the campaign to boycott Israeli and settlement goods.

There were four Zionists at TESCO; including one who remained inside the air-conditioned supermarket looking out, while his three colleagues sweltered in the heat – and whose presence and arguments were largely ignored by passersby.

The next demonstration is on Saturday 13 August. Meet outside Ahava at 12:00 noon and at TESCO at 1:00pm. Details here. All welcome.

Finally, thanks to BDS Nederland (and others) for sending their solidarity and good wishes in regards to Saturday’s protest.

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Additional coverage and images can be found on Demotix