Letter to New York Times

Letter to New York Times reporter Joan Raymond in response to the Frequent Flyer column, 12 February 2013

12 February 2013

Dear Joan Raymond,

In response to the Frequent Flyer column featuring Ahava North American CEO Elana Drell-Szyfer, we thought it important to bring to your attention the fact that Ahava is subject to an international boycott campaign because of the company's illegal practices. The company's main production facility and visitors center is located at Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The company sources mud for use in its products from the Occupied Shores of the Dead Sea; this is forbidden as pillage of occupied natural resources under the Geneva Conventions. In addition, Ahava labels its goods as "Product of Israel," when they are in fact made in the Occupied West Bank. This labeling has been challenged as fraudulent in South Africa, the U.K., the Netherlands and France. Illegal settlements and the goods produced in them are almost universally recognized as an impediment to a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.

Ahava has been the subject of numerous reports detailing its exploitation of Palestinian resources and its violations of international law. I am including links to three of them below.

  • Report from Israeli Human Rights organization B'Tselem
  • Report from Palestinian Human Rights organization Al Haq
  • Report from Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace

You can read more about the international boycott campaign at our web site (stolenbeauty.org). There have been numerous press reports of action taken by activist groups and government bodies against Ahava for its violations of international law. Only yesterday, Ahava was featured in a Spiegel piece about the EU's move to crack down against illegal settlement goods. Here are the relevant paragraphs about Ahava:

"Products from Israeli cosmetics firm Ahava are also the subject of dispute. The company produces creams and shower gels that contain minerals from the Dead Sea. The products' packaging includes the details, "Dead Sea Laboratories. Israel." In truth, the products are manufactured at the edge of the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank.

The company refused to answer detailed legal questions. 'Ahava works in coordination with the German authorities, the European Commission and under the law,' the company stated, tersely. But the apparent calm was feigned. Ahava immediately informed the Israeli Embassy in Berlin about SPIEGEL's reporting.

The German importer of Ahava products is based in Wiesbaden, so any control of its products is the responsibility of the city, which is the state capital of Hesse. In a written response to a query from SPIEGEL, the city's consumer protection department wrote that because the company's headquarters is officially located within the recognized borders of the state of Israel, 'nothing misleading can be detected.'"

It is highly unfortunate that the New York Times Business section allowed itself to be used to put a pretty face on Ahava's blatant disregard for international law. We hope that you will rectify this by providing your readers with information about the international campaign to hold Ahava to account for its illegal practices.


Nancy Kricorian for the Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott campaign