Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fight the Hate, Show Ahava Some Love

The Israeli cosmetics firm Ahava (Hebrew for "love") is the latest target of the anti-Israel BDS --"boycott, divestment, sanctions"-- movement. This is the same group that attempted not only a boycott, but also encouraged and carried out vandalism against the Trader Joe's chain for carrying Israeli products. Of course, that effort has simply resulted in a national mobilization of Israel supporters to buy large amounts of Dorot frozen herbs , Gates of Eden feta cheese, and Osem couscous. The success of that counter-effort has led to doubts being privately expressed (at least they thought it was privately) in anti-Israel circles about a strategy that results in increased sales of Israeli products. Nonetheless, the movement has decided to follow the same strategy. So, of course, it's up to us to make sure that it has the same result.

This time, the boycotters are ostensibly targeting Ahava because it has a production facility in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem (located in a desert area by the Dead Sea with no nearby Arab villages). But forget about the pretense that this is even about the West Bank, or about settlements, or about peace between a Palestinian Arab state and a Jewish state of Israel. Code Pink, which appears to be the lead group in this particular effort, announces proudly on the website for this campaign that they have signed on to the official "Palestinian Unified Call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions." That document states that one of its demands upon Israel is "Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194."

Let's briefly review a few points that should be common knowledge for anyone who wants to engage in coherent conversation about "Palestinian refugees":

1. Resolution 194 is a resolution of the General Assembly of the UN and is, as such, a statement of opinion that is advisory and not binding on member states.

2. Nowhere in the text of the resolution is there any reference to "rights"; rather, there is the suggestion that refugees be "permitted" to return--if they wished to live in peace with their neighbors.

3. All of the Arab member states of the UN voted against Resolution 194 at the time it was adopted, because they refused to accept the concept of living in peace with Israel.

4. Resolution 194 makes no ethnic specification for refugees; the 900,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Arab lands in the wake of the creation of Israel were clearly included within the scope of the resolution. This suggests that the Jewish refugees have as valid a claim to compensation for their losses as to the Arab refugees, and that the situation of both refugee populations need to be considered simultaneously.

5. In no other conflict in the world are 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation descendants of refugees considered to have acquired the "rights" of the actual refugees themselves-- not in India/Pakistan, with a 20 million exchange of population in the late 1940's; not in any of the multiple ethnic conflicts in Africa and Asia. Only the descendants of Palestinian refugees are somehow entitled to remain on the international dole and prevented, by their fellow Arabs, from leaving the camps to integrate into the lives of the countries in which they now live (Jordan being the sole exception to this).

The reference to, and deliberate misuse of, Resolution 194 reveals the true intent of the BDS movement. To paraphrase James Carville in Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, "It's the Jewish state, stupid." The promoters of the BDS movement follow in the footsteps of those who launched a war against the Jewish community of Palestine in the wake of the UN's adoption of the 1947 partition plan. They will fail, as their predecessors did; and in the process of failing they will continue to put off any possibility of Palestinian national self-determination. But of course a Palestinian state living in peace next to a Jewish state was never really the goal, was it?

In the US, Ahava products can be purchased online here. Every bottle helps undermine the BDS movement.


  1. I am sure that the boycott movement is initiated by the Economics Division of Mossad to promote Israeli exports. The only alernative explanation is that the boycott promoters are extremely stupid.


    "...Pro-Israel forces rallied and, mostly, carried the day. Reports of proposed boycotts galvanized the Jewish and pro-Israel communities and resulted in an enormous volume of ticket sales for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, sold-out cases of Israeli wine at a local store being picketed by a boycott-Israel crowd, and church resolutions being defeated or put on hold. In the case of the film festival, all three major Toronto newspapers came out against those opposing Tel Aviv....."

    From the forest itself comes the handle for the axe. When we unify and when we fight back we win. Never forget that.

  3. I am trying to understand your position. So, let me just ask a couple of questions and hope for a meaningful dialogue.

    Do you support the colonies (settlements) built within the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are clearly understood in the international community as occupied land?

    I would like a simple yes or no answer. I think the Israelis are way out of line and have been for decades. I'm a US citizen who objects to my government's support of these illegal colonies.

    Do you think I am anti-Semitic because of my objection to Israeli and US policies? Am I anti-American as well?

    Perhaps I have already turned you off because of my questions but I need to let you know that I am sick and tired of being called anti-Semitic simply because I disagree with Israeli & US policies.

    But I am hopeful that we can have a meaningful conversation and that you will not dismiss me simply because I have a different take on what's happening and what has happened in the past.

    love, john + + "The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire." -- Teilhard de Chardin

  4. There are two parts needed to answer your question, John:

    1. Many Israelis do not support the existence of settlements; many others do. The definition of occupied land is land taken from another recognized sovereign; given that the British Mandate was the last internationally recognized government control of the West Bank and the eastern part of Jerusalem (there is no such historical entity as "East Jerusalem"; it, like East Berlin, was a creation of an artificial division from a war.) these are more appropriately disputed territories under international law. Final borders can be negotiated between Israel, and a Palestinian leadership that is willing to live in peace alongside a Jewish state. Such leadership has never emerged. And there's no reason that Jews should not be able to live in an Arab state of Palestine if Arabs can be citizens of Israel.
    But this is not the real answer to your question-The real answer is this:

    2. The settlements are not the real issue, at least not for the groups who promote the so-called BDS movement. Just as important to them as removal of the settlements is the elimination of Jewish statehood by forcing Israel to accept the immigration of millions of 4th generation descendants of 1948 refugees-- this is noted in the second paragraph on the above post. So even if Israel withdrew from settlements tomorrow, these groups will not accept a Jewish state.

    To answer your question about anti-Semitism: no, one who opposes policies of the gov't of Israel is not anti-Semitic. I condemn anyone who uses that term to describe disagreement with Israeli policy.

    However, one who does not accept the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination while allowing the same right for Palestinians (and Iraqis, Afghanis,Russians, Japanese, etc.)is anti-Semitic. Natan Sharansky correctly noted that criticism is anti-Semitic that demonizes Israel, applies double standards only to Israel (compared to those applied to other democratic nations) and deligitmizes Israel.

    So, in the spirit of dialogue, you can answer this question:

    If Israel were to withdraw to the June 4 1967 borders, would you then support its right to exist as a Jewish state (including the right to defend itself against attacks and the right to decide who can immigrate)?

    If yes, then you and I are much closer than those promoting boycotts-- because their answer to that question is NO.

  5. John asks: Do you support the colonies (settlements) built within the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are clearly understood in the international community as occupied land?

    He wants a simple yes/no answer, but its really not that simple.

    Firstly, as Drmike points out, these areas are more correctly referred to as "disputed territorities". The green line is not an internationally recognized border- it is simply the cease fire line. If you look at the history of the Gush Etzion bloc, it was Jewish territory until it was ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population in 1948. It was recaptured in the 1967 war. Last year, even President Carter admitted that "I never imagined that Gush Etzion would be transferred to Palestinian hands." Read the history of Gush Etzion here:

    Read that John, and answer this "Is Gush Etzion a settlement"?" There are many similar cases.

    So define "settlement" for us, and maybe we can give you a better answer. In my experience however, the settlement issue is a red herring to those who do not accept the existence of Israel at all.

  6. Thanks for the consumer tips. I love the Ahava shave cream and aftershave. I'm looking forward to trying the shampoo and body wash. We now have a Trader Joe's near our home, so I'll try the Feta. Barkan wine is also imported into the US; ask your local wine shop to carry it!