Linda Frank's follow-up letter to Nordstrom's Social Responsibility Office

April 9, 2010 
Dedicated shopper tells Nordstrom that regardless of how the issue of labeling is handled under lax U.S. customs regulations, the fact remains that the Ahava factory is located in occupied Palestinian territory.


April 9, 2010

Dear Tara and Linda,

In follow-up to our email conversations about Ahava, while I await a copy of the customs documentation that Elizabeth DeMaria said she'd ask her corporate office for permission to send to me, I thought it important to clarify with you that regardless of how bureaucratic and/or private entities may have finessed the issue of labeling vis a vis customs, there still exists the fact that the Ahava factory is located in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and not in Israel. Therefore, the request remains for Nordstrom to stop carrying Ahava on the factual grounds that it is a product of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and should be labeled as such. Customers who are interested in human rights and the rule of law have a right to know which products are contributing to violations of human rights and international law - which is true for all products that support any and all settlement endeavors. Ahava's products are clearly - no matter what their customs designation - made in an illegal Israeli settlement in violation of international law. The policies that enable Ahava's products prohibit the indigenous Palestinians from accessing their own land. The resources used to make Ahava products are Palestinian resources (in addition to being endangered resources).

The mislabeling of Ahava products is not a matter of opinion. It is, simply, fact. Here, from Wikipedia, for example: Mitzpe Shalem ( lit. Shalem Lookout) is an Israeli settlement and kibbutz located about 1 km from the western shores of the Dead Sea in the eastern West Bank.  Take a look at the map provided on this page. You can see Mizpe Shalem clearly denoted in the Occupied West Bank area. 

Under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel's settlements are illegal (The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies and are thusly considered by - I think it's fair to say - all of the international community.

Previous and current US Administrations considered and still consider Israel's illegal settlements a major impediment to peace.

Anyway, international law would overrule all US law as "Supreme law of the land" by virtue of Article Six of the US Constitution: "…all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." 

Therefore, I and the thousands of others who emailed you, will continue to call for Nordstrom to abide by the letter and spirit of your Social Responsibility Guidelines.

Even Israeli women are alerting people to products like Ahava that support and prolong the cruel practices and policies of Israel's 43-year occupation of Palestinian land and lives. Please visit the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace's website

And please do visit also the website I referred you to in my original letter of request, B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. 

Also the perspective on illegal settlements of the Jewish-American organization Americans for Peace Now. 

Why would Nordstrom insist on supporting policies that violate human rights and international law? And endanger American lives and interests, something even General Petraeus recently acknowledged? 

I've been a Nordstrom shopper from head to toe, literally, since I came to Washington in 1995. I have four pair of Joseph Siebel shoes; and nearly every day wear the Alexis Bittar lucite hoop earrnings I'd bought a couple months ago. My everyday purse is a Hobo bag from Nordstrom; my everyday watch, a wide-band Anne Klein. All bring many compliments, as do my Misook pieces. The majority of my blouses and sweaters are Eileen Fisher, all from Nordstrom with the exception of one from the Eileen Fisher Seattle store. All lovely (and expensive items) that I've proudly divulged as having come from Nordstrom.

Now my existing Nordstrom attire will provide an opening to a "teaching moment" about Nordstrom's Social Responsibility policies…and, I hope, soon, about Nordstrom's ethics to abide by those policies.


Linda Frank