Products from the West Bank are unacceptable, repeat after me

The creeping acceptance globally that a targeted campaign against apartheid Israel is justified arrives in Australia (or at least a public discussion). Here’s a story from last night’s ABC Radio PM program:

MARK COLVIN: The opposition to Israeli settlements in the West Bank has evolved a new tactic — a mounting campaign against settlement companies and products.

There’s been a rise in anti-Israeli sentiment among consumer, union and activist groups, particularly in Europe.

Now, Europe’s highest court is considering a recommendation to strip all tariff concessions from products made in West Bank settlements.

And the Dutch Government is cracking down on settlement firms that market their products as “made in Israel”.

Middle East Correspondent Anne Barker filed this report.

ANNE BARKER: Ahava is the Hebrew word for “love” but it’s also one of Israel’s most recognisable brand names.

Its skin and beauty products come from the mineral rich mud of the Dead Sea.

AHAVA COMMERCIAL EXCERPT: One of the most amazing secrets of the universe is hidden 400 metres below sea level.

ANNE BARKER: An international advertising campaign has helped Ahava carve a lucrative niche in the European market, under a “Made in Israel” label.

But in reality Ahava’s products are manufactured at Mitzpe Shalem, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Under international law it’s occupied Palestinian territory, and Israel is illegally exploiting the natural resource for its own profit.

(protesters: “Don’t buy Ahava, don’t buy Ahava”)

ANNE BARKER: Protesters recently staged demonstrations against Ahava shops and cosmetics, in Europe and Washington. Ahava’s response is the Dead Sea and its treasures are international and don’t belong to one nation.

But now the Dutch Government has ordered an investigation to confirm whether or not Ahava’s products are indeed made on occupied land.

ADAM KELLER: We know for sure that they are located in the north west shore of the Dead Sea, which is occupied by Israel since ’67.

ANNE BARKER: Adam Keller represents Gush Shalom, a pro-peace organisation that campaigns against Jewish settlements.

He wants other European authorities to follow the Dutch lead and crack down on settlement companies that falsely claim their goods are from Israel.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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