When Lonely Planet guided its travelers to the Ahava Factory Outlet and Store in a settlement in the occupied West Bank, readers questioned what other human rights violators they had unknowingly patronized.
April 13, 2010
Dear Lonely Planet,
In preparation for an upcoming trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories,
my husband bought me a copy of your guide. He vetted a number of guides
trying to find the one with the most reliable information and with a clear-eyed,
balanced view of the politics of the region. And, as usual, Lonely Planet
came out on top.
Unfortunately, as I perused the book further, I found on page 335 in
the Dead Sea section a recommendation for shopping at the Ahava Factory
Outlet and Store. To quote your book, "Want to enjoy the benefits
of Dead Sea mud at home? Drop by the AHAVA factory for great bargains
on its excellent skin- and hair-care range, which is based on Dead Sea
I'm guessing that you are unaware of an international boycott campaign
against Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories because of its illegal practices.
Ahava products are made in a factory that is based in an illegal settlement
named Mitzpe Shalem in the Occupied West Bank. Ahava is 43% owned by two
illegal settlements (Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia), which means that the company's
profits are subsidizing Israel's illegal settlement project in the West
Bank, which is an impediment to a just peace in the region. The company
excavates mud from north of the Green Line on the shores of the Dead Sea,
thereby exploiting occupied natural resources for profit. It also labels
its products as "Products of Israel," when they are clearly
what are commonly referred to as "settlement products." The
Dutch Foreign Minister has called for an investigation into Ahava, and
a British Minister of Parliament recently denounced the company's fraudulent
labeling practices. You can find more detailed information on the boycott
campaign, including voluminous press links, at the Stolen Beauty site
(www.stolenbeauty.org). You can read more about Ahava and other settlement
industries on the excellent site Who Profits (www.whoprofits.org), which
is a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace.
Thanks so much for your attention. Thanks for your excellent travel guides.
And thanks for taking this information into consideration as you plan
your next edition of "Israel & the Palestinian Territories."