(MintPress) – Next time you reach for Dead Sea beauty products promising “beauty secrets,” it may be keeping an “ugly truth,” that according to the Boycott Ahava Campaign.
Ahava, an Israeli company producing women’s beauty products, uses resources from the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank, an area considered Palestinian territory under international law. Ahava is one of the larger companies pillaging Palestinian resources for sale to mostly Western consumers.
The Boycott Ahava beauty products campaign had a banner year in 2012, according to a recent report released by CodePink, one of the campaign’s main sponsors. With dozens of organizations dropping the Ahava brand, organizers are hopeful that the movement will continue to grow in 2013, putting economic pressure on Israel’s government.
“We have been running this campaign since 2009; 2012 was the year where we saw the fruition of our work,” said Nancy Kricorian, a CodePink representative for the Stolen Beauty Campaign in a recent Mint Press News statement.
Ahava and other companies are allowed to operate in the West Bank under Israeli national law. However, the resources they use constitute a form of theft from the Palestinian people. The West Bank is considered Palestinian territory under international law, but has remains occupied by the Israeli military and settler communities since 1967.
Countering working to end the plundering of Palestinian resources is CodePink, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations and to challenge militarism globally. The group previously spearheaded protests against U.S. drone use in Pakistan and U.S. wars abroad.
Retailers big and small stopped the sale of Ahava products in 2012, including, most notably, a major retailer in Sweden called VITA. The pharmaceutical retailer suspended sale of Ahava products at all 160 stores, a major credit to the strength of the boycott campaign.
Progressive churches also played a key role in furthering the boycott of settlement products. The United Methodists and U.S. Presbyterians both voted for boycotts of Ahava products and all settlement products more generally.
“One of the most positive things is that there are mainline churches taking action,” added Kricorian.
The churches were considering a divestment of church funds from companies that sustain Israel’s occupation of land beyond its internationally-recognized borders. The proposals failed narrowly.
Pressure ramps up
The controversial Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has had intermittent success since its launch in 2005. While thousands of individuals and dozens of organizations have committed to the aims of the movement, collective actions have resulted in few changes to Israeli policy vis-a-vis illegal settlement expansion.
However, these actions have emboldened efforts by the beleaguered Palestinian Authority to advance the cause of statehood. President Mahmoud Abbas successfully advanced Palestine’s political status to that of “non-member observer” at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in November 2012.
The move, largely symbolic, will allow Palestinian leadership to try Israeli leaders for war crimes and daily crimes against the Palestinian people, including: land confiscation, extrajudicial killings and unlawful imprisonment.
CodePink plans to continue their campaign through 2013, hoping to generate support from new organizations and retailers. “It feels like a snowball effect. It’s picking up momentum,” Kricorian said.
“In 2013, we will continue our efforts to hold the company accountable for its violations of international law — particularly its pillage of occupied natural resources. We will be calling on you soon to help us keep the pressure on Nordstrom, a ‘socially responsible’ retailer that knowingly sells Ahava’s pillaged mud products,” CodePink announced in a recent online post.