AHAVA boycott campaign brings out protesters and counter-protesters in Brooklyn Heights highlighting the controversy around Israeli settlement products

Naomi Allen, Brooklyn For Peace: 917-439-9054
Nancy Kricorian, CODEPINK Women for Peace: 646-234-8529

Where: Ricky’s 107 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights (between Henry & Hicks)
When: Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 5:30 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.



NEW YORK CITY – On October 26th, Brooklyn For Peace, CODEPINK NYC, Adalah-NY, Jews Say No!, Jewish Voice for Peace, and other local groups will bring the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign to Brooklyn for a third time. Local activists, some dressed in spa attire, and others wearing monster masks to convey the message that Occupation is an Ugly business, will gather on Montague Street to tell Ricky’s NYC: No More Ahava Cosmetics. At last month’s demonstration, counter-protesters also gathered outside Ricky’s, some of them opposing the boycott with a “buycott” of Ahava goods, highlighting the controversy around Israeli settlement products.

Since August 2009, local activists have been trying to pressure Ricky’s NYC, a family-owned chain that sells cosmetics and sundries, to stop carrying products made by the Israeli cosmetics manufacturer Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of the Ahava’s illegal practices. In July 2010, Brooklyn for Peace organized the first Ahava protest in that borough outside Ricky’s on Montague Street. The July 9th and September 28th protests sparked great interest and controversy in the community, and there is expectation that the third demonstration will be even more of an event.

Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli cosmetics company that has its manufacturing plant and visitors center near the shores of the Dead Sea in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The Israeli High Court of Justice affirmed in 2005 that the West Bank is “held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation” and that the Fourth Geneva Convention, under which an occupying power is prohibited from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory, applies to the West Bank. Ahava is 44% owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia, so that the company’s profits are subsidizing these illegal colonies. Although its goods are manufactured in the West Bank, Ahava labels them as “products of Israel,” a practice that is illegal under European Union law and is currently being investigated in the UK and Holland.

Since its launch in July 2009, the Stolen Beauty Ahava Boycott (www.stolenbeauty.org) has scored a number of successes. The first victory came after pressure on Oxfam, an international human rights organization, which had publicly condemned all Israeli settlement products, to suspend its Goodwill Ambassador Kristin Davis from publicity work for the duration of her contract as Ahava spokeswoman. Davis, best known for her work on HBO’s Sex and the City, allowed her contract to expire a few months later. Abroad, coalition partners in London engaged the UK’s Camden Trading Standards Office to investigate the legality of Ahava’s labeling. Dutch activists and a Minister of the Parliament succeeded in convincing the Dutch Foreign Ministry to launch its own investigation of Ahava’s business methods. Partners in Paris have recently filed suit against the cosmetics chain Sephora for carrying Ahava products.

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