From issue 123 of Ethical Consumer magazine March/April 2010
CODEPINK, the US women’s anti-war movement, has launched the ‘Stolen Beauty’ campaign targeting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. Their high-profle protests have already spread from the USA to the UK, continental Europe and Israel. Sarah Irving talks to the campaign’s Nancy Krikorian.
What is the Stolen Beauty campaign against Ahava’s Dead Sea Products about?
In the wake of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Codepink Women for Peace felt it was time to take up the call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law.
Why did you select Ahava as a target?
We chose Ahava because its practices are against international law. Ahava’s main manufacturing plant and visitor center are based in Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Mitzpe Shalem is also part-owner of Ahava and the company’s profts are subsidizing this illegal settlement (all West Bank settlements are
illegal under international law). Additionally, Ahava excavates mud from the shores of the Dead Sea north of the Green line, which means it is also violating the 4th Geneva Convention, which explicitly forbids an occupying power from exploiting for proft the captured natural resources of an occupied territory. Ahava also misleadingly labels its products as made in Israel, when they are made in the Occupied West Bank.
How have you gone about campaigning against it? What combination of tactics have you used?
We have employed store protests with Bikini and Bathrobe Brigades going into stores to let consumers know about Ahava’s illegal practices. We have also put pressure on Ahava spokeswoman, Oxfam Ambassador and Sex & the City star Kristin Davis to stop letting Ahava use her beautiful face and good name to cover up their dirty practices. Her contract lapsed in September, which we counted as a victory. She is no longer working for Ahava, but continues her association with Oxfam.
How does the Stolen Beauty campaign ft into the wider Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement?
In terms of strategy, we feel that by targeting this particular company based in a settlement we can publicize the illegality of all the settlements and the profts that are being made from these illegal actions. As a women’s peace group, it made sense for us to select a cosmetics company, and one that is widely available in the States. The Stolen Beauty Campaign is our contribution to the BDS Movement.
What would your ideal campaign outcome be?
Our ideal outcome would be that the company would move its plant out of the West Bank, and it would stop exploiting Palestinian natural resources. But as two illegal settlements own and proft from the company – are in fact subsidized by the company’s profts – they would also have to be bought out and/or move themselves out of the West Bank.
For more information see www.stolenbeauty.org
Subway boycott threatened over cruel slaughter method
A boycott of the sandwich chain Subway is threatened by leading animal group Viva! after it emerged that 78 Subway stores across the UK are selling Halal meat from unstunned animals. The suffering and welfare implications of it are so extreme that the Government’s own welfare advisory body – the Farm Animal Welfare Council – have now twice asked for a ban.
The majority of Halal meat in the UK comes from animals that have been stunned – which, in essence, means it is no different from the slaughter of any animal in the UK. Despite this, Subway is selling meat from unstunned animals, imported from Ireland. Viva! continues to ask people to reject all slaughter and move towards a vegan diet, but is asking supporters to write to or email Subway.
For more information and to contact Subway visit www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ritual_slaughter
The 78 Halal accredited Subway branches are listed at www.subway.co.uk
Fruitfull boycott success
In November Fruit of the Loom crumbled in the face of pressure from the largest ever student boycott. In an incredible about-face the company re-opened a Honduran factory it had closed after workers had unionised. Furthermore, it also gave all 1,200 employees their jobs back, awarded them $2.5 million in compensation and restored all union rights.
The campaign started in 2009 when United Students Against Sweatshops started a campaign that led to 96 US colleges severing their contracts with the company. Ten British universities followed suit. The campaign was estimated to have cost the company $50million.
Reyna Dominguez, who worked at the factory, told New Internationalist that “without this pressure the company would never have come to the negotiating table. There has never been an agreement like this in Honduras or the world.”
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