Top 10 BDS Campaign Consumer Boycott Targets
1. Agricultural products from the settlements
In the West Bank the fertile, occupied Jordan Valley is key farmland for Israel, with illegal agro-industrial settlements spread across kilometres of land and taking vast quantities of water. Adjacent to the settlements Palestinians often live in little more than plastic and wooden shacks, with very restricted access to water and forbidden from constructing homes, which are routinely demolished by the Israeli military.
Europe is the prime destination for Israeli agricultural products from the Jordan Valley and Carmel Agrexco was the biggest exporter until it went into liquidation in 2011. It was subsequently bought by the Bickel group and has retained its brands (including Carmel) and regained contracts with a number of growers. Today it is active in a number of settlements in the Jordan Valley and also exports produce from Palestinian growers in the West Bank and Gaza.
Other brands of fresh fruit and vegetables which may have been sourced from the settlements include: AdaFresh, Kedem Hadarim, Mehadrin and Terra.
It is often not possible to distinguish between Israeli products that have been grown in settlements and those from within Israel's 1967 borders. Products have been photographed in packing houses in the Jordan Valley with 'Produce of Israel' labels. The safest strategy is to avoid all Israeli fresh produce.
2. Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories
Cosmetics company Ahava manufactures products made from minerals extracted from the Dead Sea. According to Who Profits, an Israeli organisation that monitors corporate involvement in the settlements, the mud it uses is excavated from occupied Palestinian land in contravention of international law.
Ahava's factory and visitors' centre are located in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement in the occupied Jordan Valley but it is falsely stated on the packaging that Ahava products are manufactured in Israel. The company is partially owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement called Kalia. Profits from the company thereby directly help to sustain the occupation. In September 2015 it was announced that a majority stake in the company would be sold, likely to the Chinese investment company Fosun.
Ahava Code Pink Campaign calling on Bed, Bath & Bryond to stop selling Ahava, Flickr.
Ahava is the target of the Stolen Beauty campaign, which was launched by anti-militarism activists Code Pink in 2009. Ahava's Covent Garden shop was plagued by demonstrations and legal challenges by pro-Palestinian activists until it closed its doors in 2011. The company now no longer has a commercial premises in the UK and few if any retailers will stock its products. But they can be bought online, on Amazon for example.
You can sign the Ahava Boycott Pledge and access other campaign materials here.
Reports covering Ahava's activities are available from Who Profits, B'tselem and Al Haq, which has also produced a virtual field visit.
3. Ben and Jerry's
Unilever subsidiary Ben and Jerry's has an Israeli franchise that manufactures ice cream in Israel and sells it in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. As a result Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel began discussions with the company in 2011. A campaign went public in 2013, since which time thousands of individuals and 239 organisations in 20 countries have called on Ben & Jerry’s to put an end to its franchise’s business in Israeli settlements.
A decision to call a boycott of the company was taken in 2014 during the Israeli attacks on Gaza: “While this massacre of innocents was being carried out, Ben & Jerry’s “peace & love” ice cream was passing through Israeli checkpoints, being transported on Jewish-only roads, and being sold to supermarkets and for catered events in Jewish-only settlements.”
6. The Coca-Cola Company
The Israeli company that has held the Coca Cola franchise in Israel since 1967, the Central Bottling Company (CBC), has a regional distribution centre in an industrial zone in the Israeli settlement of Atarot which it operates through its subsidiary the Central Company for Sales and Distribution.
CBC also owns Tabor Winery, which owns vineyards vineyards in the occupied Golan Heights. In addition, through its subsidiary Tara (Milco Industries), CBC owns approximately 81% of Meshek Zuriel Dairy (81%), which has a dairy farm and head office in a settlement in the Jordan Valley.
Due to its commercial relationship to CBC, The Coca-Cola Company is also the subject of the Israel boycott. In July 2015 the National Union of Students voted to censure its president for accepting a sponsorship deal from Coca-Cola for its annual awards ceremony, in violation of the boycott, which it adopted as a policy in August 2014.
“There is… a clear, direct line of accountability whereby Coca Cola, through its operations in Israel, is active within illegally occupied territory, in the process keeping occupation a viable exercise for the Israeli state,” according to an NUS statement.
“The responsibility thus lies on NUS to implement its policy and break ties with the company until it at the very least ends complicity in the Israeli occupation.”
Hewlett-Packard is one of the top arms-producing companies in the world and has an extensive number of contracts with the Israeli state. It owns the company which developed the BASEL system, in use at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, which controls Palestinian movement through a system of ID cards and biometric information.
HP has also maintains the IT infrastructure of the Israeli navy, which imposes a naval blockade of the Gaza strip, and provides and maintains computer equipment for the Israeli prison service, which stands accused of human rights abuses including the detention and torture of children.
You can visit the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website to sign a pledge to boycott Hewlett-Packard.
8. J Sainsburys plc
Sainsbury's sells a range of Israeli fresh fruit and vegetables, some of which are from companies active in Israeli settlements. The Sainsbury's: Taste the Indifference campaign was launched in 2013 and calls on the company to “cease all trade with companies complicit in the colonisation of Palestinian land”.
The Co-operative and Marks and Spencer have stated that they will not trade in products from Israeli settlements and the Co-operative's policy extends to trading with companies that trade with the settlements. No other British supermarkets have taken a stance on either settlement products or companies. Sainsbury's was selected as a campaign target as it is seen as 'winnable' - the company promotes its ethical and Fairtrade credentials and is a founder member of the Ethical Trading Initiative.
Local groups across the UK have been organising around Sainsbury’s stores, speaking with and leafleting customers and collecting signatures on petitions and postcards. The company's shareholders received an open letter from Corporate Watch in 2014 and its CEO received an open letter from several Members of Parliament and the European Parliament and representatives of a number of groups including Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and War on Want. Protests have been held both inside and outside its AGM.
9. SodaStream International
Its decision to relocate the plant to the Rahat area in the Naqab (Negev) desert in Israel is, however, also highly controversial. The Israeli government has long-standing policies to force the Bedioun communities of the Naqab off of their traditional lands and into “authorised” townships. The 2011 Prawer Plan aimed to displace at least 40,000 people and, although it was officially put on hold in 2013, it seems that it will still be carried out in a modified form. Tens of thousands of Palestinians live in unrecognized villages in the Naqab and are denied basic services such as electricity, water and education.
“Far from reducing its direct contribution to human rights abuses, SodaStream’s factory in the Rahat area in the Naqab (Negev) amounts to conscious participation in Israel’s plans to ethnically cleanse tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinian citizens of Israel from their ancestral lands,” the BDS National Committee told Ethical Consumer. The boycott of the company continues.
10. The Strauss Group
The Strauss Group is Israel's second biggest food company and has been identified as a target of the BDS movement as a result of its support for two notorious Israeli military units, Golani and Givati. These brigades committed atrocities during Israel's 2009-10 deadly assault on Gaza. Their members have been known to use horrific imagery on t-shirts, such as a pregnant Palestinian woman in a sniper's cross-hairs, with the slogan “one shot, two kills”.
The company has previously claimed to have "adopted” the two platoons and provided the soldiers with food and personal care packages. It has removed and reposted information on its website regarding its support for the Israeli military and the status of its current support is unclear.
The Strass Group part-owns Sabra Hummus, which is sold by retailers in the UK including Sainsburys and Tesco. Sabra is also owned by PepsiCo, which manufactures Sabra products in the USA. The companies also jointly own a company licensed to produce Frito Lay products in Israel.
The Strauss Group also has a partnership with French yoghurt makers Danone; it manufactures and markets Danone products in Israel.
In 2011 the company signed an agreement with the Virgin Group which saw the formation of a new company, Virgin Strauss Water, that markets Strauss water dispensers under the brand Virgin Pure.