Three years after ongoing protests outside Boulder’s Pharmaca Pharmacy, Ahava is moving its cosmetic company out of the West Bank.
Members of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (RMPJC) stood outside of Pharmaca Pharmacy in 2013 to protest the store’s selling of Ahava skincare products. And several passersby stopped to find out why.
Ahava has been under pressure from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and groups who support Palestinian rights. Three years ago Ahava closed its London office after protests calling for a boycott of Israel were an ongoing presence.
In Boulder, the RMPJC says that the sale of these products violates international law because of Ahava’s marketing practices that claim manufacturing in Israel rather than in occupied territory.
Tom Mayer was one RMPJC member who stood outside of Pharmaca in 2013 holding a sign, “The boycott of Ahava skin care products is one thing that [the RMPJC does] locally. There is an international movement to focus on Ahava skin care products and to get the countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere to stop buying them. And we’ve been successful in some places in Norway, and Japan, and some parts of Germany, and there are people working on it everywhere.”
Ahava administrative headquarters is located in Holon and the company owns a manufacturing plant in Mitzpe Shalem on the Palestinian West Bank. This location has been at issue for the extracting of natural resources from the Dead Sea particularly the mud which is excavated and then used in Ahava’s skincare products. The human rights organization CODEPINK has been campaigning against the company for years saying that the extraction of these natural resources violates the Fourth Geneva Convention since the extraction is happening in occupied territory.
Ahava is not the only company that has responded to boycotts that have called for the moving of Ahava factories from the West Bank: SodaStream recently moved its Ma’ale Adumim factory to the Negev, Bagel Bagel – owned by Unilever – moved its production facilities from the Barkan Industrial Zone in the Samaria. Multi-lock also moved its production facilities from the Barkan Industrial Zone.
Caroline Bninski who also protested outside of Pharmaca in 2013 told KGNU, “These products are unethical to be selling given the suffering of the Palestinians by Israeli authorities.”
Ahava operates in over 30 countries, and distributes wholesale through department stores and in a chain of shops in Hungary, Germany, Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines.