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Ahava Products Turn Dutch Officials Red

Dutch officials are investigating Ahava Dead Sea products to determine if minerals are stolen from "occupied" Arabs.
By Malkah Fleisher
First Publish: 12/15/2009, 10:02 PM / Last Update: 12/15/2009, 11:03 PM

Israel news file (photo)

Israel's most famous luxury beauty creams, soaps, oils and salts make the average person glow.  But some members of the Dutch parliament are red in the face at the notion that Ahava Dead Sea skincare and beauty products might be manufactured in a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen asked the Dutch Finance Ministry to investigate the status of Ahava products at the behest of Dutch Socialist Party parliamentarian Harry van Bommel. Bommel, who is an avid pro-Palestinian activist, is determined to find out if Ahava products are produced in "the Occupied Territories [and] exported under the Israeli flag, making profits for the occupier."

Ahava products are exported to Holland with a "Made in Israel" stamp. However, Dutch socialists say the beneficial minerals infused in Ahava products belong to Arabs. According to them, Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea – where Ahava products are produced – is situated on Arab land, and should not garner tax revenues for the State of Israel.

As part of an economic agreement between Israel and the European Union (EU), Israel has to distinguish between products made in pre-1967 Israel and products made in parts of Israel liberated during the Six Day War. Products made in Judea and Samaria are subject to higher tariffs. The investigation will determine whether Ahava is benefitting from the lower tax bracket enjoyed by Israeli companies not producing out of Judea and Samaria.

Bommel says he will work for a Dutch boycott of Ahava if Israel is found to be using raw materials belonging to an "occupied nation."

In the past, a Dutch pro-Palestinian group called the Badjassen Brigade ran a "Stolen Beauty" campaign against Ahava, holding demonstrations outside stores selling the famous Israeli products. It is currently fighting the sale of Ahava products in Holland.

Ahava was also recently attacked in Britain.  Model and actress Kristin Davis, spokesperson and model for Ahava, was dropped by British charity organization Oxfam as a result of her business relationship with the company.
 
Britain has recently decided that all imported Israeli products manufactured in Judea or Samaria must be labeled as such by retailers.