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Disney Kin Joins BDS Call

Promises to donate profits from investments in Ahava

Liel Leibovitz
July 16, 2012
Members of the Stolen Beauty campaign demonstrate at a Washington, DC drug store in 2009.(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Stolen Beauty campaign demonstrate at a Washington, DC drug store in 2009.(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

The campaign to boycott goods produced in the settlements is gaining traction both among American Jews (see Beinart, Peter) and in Israel, where thousands have joined Peace Now’s call to defy a law banning boycotts and avoid buying anything produced east of the Green Line. Now, the campaign just got a bit more animated: Abigail Disney—whose grandfather, Roy O., and great-uncle, Walt, founded the entertainment behemoth that bears their name—has issued a statement this morning advocating the boycott of the popular skincare brand Ahava. Ahava’s factory and visitors’ center is located in Mitzpe Shalem, a settlement one kilometer from the western shores of the Dead Sea.

Disney’s statement is far from theoretical: She is a principal investor in, and the former Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Shamrock Holdings Inc., the investment firm founded by her father, Roy E. Disney, which owns about 18.5 percent of Ahava. “Recent evidence from the Israeli Civil Administration documents that Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories sources mud used in its products from the Occupied shores of the Dead Sea, which is in direct contravention to provisions in The Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions forbidding the exploitation of occupied natural resources,” Disney said in a statement. “While I will always hold my colleagues and coworkers in the highest regard, I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank. Because of complicated legal and financial constraints I am unable to withdraw my investment at this time, but will donate the corpus of the investment as well as the profits accrued to me during the term of my involvement to organizations working to end this illegal exploitation.”

This marks the most recent achievement of the worldwide campaign against Ahava, entitled “Stolen Beauty.” Since the campaign began in 2009, Ahava was forced to close its store in London’s Covent Garden, lost its distributor in Japan, was dropped by a major Norwegian retail chain, and was specifically named in a call issued last week by the Presbyterian Church to boycott settlement products.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.