Abigail Disney: "I cannot in good conscience profie from [Ahava's] 'plunger' or 'pillage'"
Abigail Disney, a principal investor of Shamrock Holdings Incorporated, the Roy E. Disney family fund, announced today that she is disclaiming her share of Shamrock's investment in Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. Ahava, an Israeli cosmetics firm with its factory and visitors center in an illegal West Bank settlement, is a privately held corporation. Shamrock owns about 18.5% of the company. (Approximately 37% is held by the West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, 37% by Hamashbir Holdings, and 7.5% by Kalia, another illegal West Bank settlement.)
Abigail Disney’s statement:
“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. 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.”
Since 2009, Ahava has been the subject of an international boycott campaign because of the company’s illegal practices. Ahava’s brand has been tarnished by bad publicity and a series of international setbacks. In January of 2012 a group of prominent U.K. academics and intellectuals denounced Ahava’s collaboration in an E.U.-funded research project. In February 2012, the company lost its Japanese distributor because of controversy surrounding Ahava’s illegal practices. In April, Norway’s Vita chain announced it would no longer stock Ahava products. In May the United Methodist Church voted to boycott Israeli settlement products, and in July the Presbyterian Church (USA) followed suit, specifically naming Ahava in its settlement boycott resolution. Also in May of this year, Who Profits, a project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace released a new investigative report entitled, “Ahava: Tracking the Trade Trail of Settlement Products.” Around the same time, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry announced new labeling rules for Israeli settlement goods; Ahava was mentioned by name as a company whose goods were fraudulently labeled as “Product of Israel” when their place of origin is the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Only last week a prominent U.K. jurist presented an opinion paper stating that it was legal for the U.K. and the E.U. to ban Israeli settlement products, a position that suggests further scrutiny of Ahava’s participation in an E.U.-funded nanotechnology research project.