Boycott the boycotters

A Norwegian beauty shop chain, Vita, has decided to boycott Israeli products, claiming that they stem from an illegal settlement:

Vita boycotts Ahava

Vita does not want to trade in goods from the occupied territories in the West Bank, and therefore stops selling beauty products from Ahava.

Ahava loses therefore its most important client in Norway. According to Norwegian People’s Aid,  Ahava’s production of beauty products is localized  in the Israeli settlement of Mitzpe Shalem and the company is owned by the settlers. According to the organization Who profits, it raw materials are harvested from the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank for the manufacture of the products.

Does not want to support the occupiers
Vita CEO Roar Arnstad writes the following about the decision was taken on Friday:

“We consider it difficult to buy goods from the occupied area from the 1967 war and will from this date suspend the purchase of goods from the occupied territory.”

He justifies the decision with, among other things, that the settlement was established in violation of international law, referring to statements from the International Court in The Hague, the UN and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. They also show that the Ethical Trading Initiative calls for such a boycott.

Furthermore Arnstad writes: “We will not buy any more goods from Ahava and VITA will only carry out the final sale of already purchased goods in stores. It will not be implemented any new purchases of Ahava, or other potential products from the occupied area from the 1967 war in the future. ”

The Norwegian People’s Aid and unions has been the driving force to get the beauty chain to boycott the products.

Receiving praices
– We praise Vita for their decision to go ahead and take a position on such an important question. These settlements are contrary to international law. I hope many more in Norwegian industry will follow Vita’s example and take responsibility. They show the way in Norwegian foreign policy, says Norwegian People’s Aid Secretary General Liv Tørres.

According to her, there are very many Norwegian companies that import from occupied areas.

– Although the government has condemned the settlements and the Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has said that these settlements are the biggest obstacle for peace in the area,  the government has not made any direct request for a boycott of trade with the occupied territories. It is high time that the government clarifies how Norwegian Commercial actors should act, says Torres.

Stein Gulbrandsen, head of the Union is also pleased that the Ahava products are taken off Vita store shelves.

– This shows that we can achieve results in our efforts to make the occupation less profitable for Israel. We hope that other stores will follow Vita and that consumers and activists continue to put the foot down for products from the settlements, he says to frifagbevegelse.no.

Against Boycott
The Israeli embassy in Oslo regrets Vita’s decision.

– We believe that the only way to resolve the painful conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is through direct negotiations and dialogue between the parties.Boycott here will be counterproductive, the press and information officer Hildegunn Hansen says to the Christian newspaper Dagen.

In connection with another case concerning a boycott of the products in the United States, Ahava says in a statement to Jerusalem Post that the production of Ahava products is not conducted on occupied territory.

– The minerals are extracted from the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is not disputed internationally, they wrote in a statement.

The manufacturer of beauty products says that the factory is located in a legal settlement.

Ahava Norway would not comment on the matter:

– We have had a good working relationship with Vita for years and do not wish to comment on this matter any further, Yngvar W. Andersen writes in an e-mail.

Quite apart from NPA general secretary Liv Tørres, startling demand,  that the Norwegian Government should dictate to Norwegian commercial enterprises on how to act (we would then expect to see Statoil withdrawing from its many ethically very questionable enterprises around the globe to start with, not to mention Norwegian enterprises investing in Aserbadjan), we can only hope for VITA shareholders that once we start digging in what else they have got on their shelves that does not exactly flatter their new found “ethical” platform, their profits won’t go down the drain as well.

maybe this is a case of confused ethics, they have gotten so used to glossing over hard nosed business decisions, that they now think everything is a matter of esthetics!