John Lewis bans products from illegal settlements

By agency reporter
January 17, 2011

Leading UK department store John Lewis has stopped stocking products manufactured in an illegal settlement in Israel. The company has confirmed that it discontinued sales of Ahava Dead Sea products.

John Lewis’ Managing Director, Andy Street, wrote in a letter to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign on 7 January: "As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of workers and their working conditions. We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment."

He ended by stating: "In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products".

The Bay stores, a leading department store chain in Canada have also stopped selling the products. Bonnie Brooks, CEO of The Bay stores said on Friday: "the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) discontinued sales of Ahava beauty products, primarily because of sales results which had been declining for several years."

She added: "Although this decision was made by HBC solely for commercial reasons, it occurred at the same time as an aggressive campaign by several groups advocating a boycott of Ahava products."

Sarah Colborne, from the PSC, explained: "Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company, has its manufacturing plant and visitors’ centre based in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the West Bank. The company is 44 per cent owned by Mitzpe Shalem and another settlement, Kalia, so Ahava’s profits subsidise these illegal colonies.

"Ahava’s manufacturing plant is in an illegal Israeli settlement, on stolen Palestinian land. Its beauty products can’t conceal the role Ahava plays in Israel’s occupation. Ahava, and other companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation, are being sent a clear message by consumers who are refusing to buy their products.

"Although governments, including our own, are failing to end Israel’s violations of international law and human rights, we can all take action by refusing to buy Israeli goods and joining the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for international boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel. PSC launched its national boycott campaign in 2002, and supports fortnightly protests outside Ahava’s store in Covent Garden, London.

Sarah Colborne said the campaign welcomed John Lewis’ decision to stop stocking Ahava products.


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