Daily Israel Report

Boycott Lobby Warns S. Africa on ‘Made in Israel’ Label

A South African boycott lobby has accused the government of violating the law by allowing “Made in Israel” on Ahava cosmetics.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/11/2012, 11:56 AM

Ahava cosemtics worker
Ahava cosemtics worker
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A South African boycott lobby has accused the government of violating the law by allowing “Made in Israel” on Ahava cosmetics.

The “Open Shuhada Street” lobby warned Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies it might take legal action against him over the labeling of the Dead Sea products, which have become a worldwide target for anti-Israel groups.

Ahava products are manufactured at Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem, a place ironically with left-wing leanings. It is located several hundred yards from the 1949 Temporary Armistice Lines, which existed until the Six-Day War in 1967.

The issue highlights the question of who determines the borders of Israel – the country itself or the international community, which does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any of the land restored to the Jewish state in 1967.

The lobby group claims that the label “Made in Israel” misleads consumers that the cosmetics were not made in the “occupied territories,” the South African Business Today reported. Previous to 1967, most of the area in question was occupied by Jordan without international approval.

"Under South African law and under World Trade Organization agreement, you cannot falsely label a product," Open Shuhada Street committee member Zackie Achmat told the business news website. The actual target of the boycott campaign is a pharmaceutical firm and a health retailer that distribute Ahava products.

“Davies promised us he would take action as he has power to issue a notice when something is proven to be unlawfully labeled, to require that company’s product be properly labeled," Achmat said.

"To this day Minister Davies has not formally responded to us … he told us he has now referred the matter to the consumer commissioner … a minister cannot say that, a minister has to enforce the law … the consumer commissioner does not have the power to issue a general notice."

Davies replied that a change in the labeling still is under consideration, and added, “We are considering our options."