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 minerals."
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 (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."