Stalls selling Israeli beauty products based on minerals extracted from the Dead Sea are a common sight in shopping centres around the world. There are a huge number of Dead Sea franchises operating, with parent companies marketing under various names. In Scotland, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) have engaged in BDS campaigns against four such companies - Kedem, Premier Dead Sea Cosmetics, Obey Your Body and Jericho Cosmetics - in shopping centres in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
The most recent campaign focuses on Jericho Skincare, who operate out of Union Square and Trinity shopping centres in Aberdeen. This campaign has provoked a furious response from the pro-Israel lobby, who are engaged in an increasingly hysterical campaign to portray legitimate protest as the racist targeting of a local Jewish businessman. In this, they have engaged in aggressive and defamatory smear campaigns against individual activists (publically and at their places of employment) and have employed various ‘lawfare’ tactics i.e. threats of civil action against individuals, and attempts to secure criminal convictions of campaigners.
The pro-Israel lobby’s ever more desperate actions provide the clearest possible evidence that they recognise the challenge of defending the illegal and immoral actions of the state of Israel to an increasingly critical public, and so have resorted to shutting down any such critique. We are witnessing this first hand in Scotland, and it is a tactic that Israel and its supporters are pursuing internationally, with varying levels of success. It is vital that we do not give in to this campaign of bullying and harassment being waged against those who campaign for Palestinian rights, and we must call out such attempts where we find them.
SPSC are completely open in our aims and objectives, and in our rationale behind the various BDS campaigns we are involved in. Before we engage in a campaign, we research and investigate to ensure that we are focusing on a legitimate target. Contrary to the lies put out by pro-Israel supporters, BDS does not target products/ businesses/ individuals because they are Jewish or Israeli, but instead campaigns are based on complicity with crimes committed by the state of Israel. Such is the case with Jericho, and the other Dead Sea companies attracting BDS activity.
The Dead Sea
In the illegally occupied West Bank, the land along the Dead Sea shore was classified as "Area C" in the 1993 Oslo accords, meaning Israel has full military and administrative control. Israel claims Oslo accords grant it jurisdiction over land, subsoil and territorial waters in Area C, meaning it has total control over access to the Dead Sea and its mineral and water resources. As a result, Palestinians are denied access to the shared resource, while Israeli settlers are granted licences to fully exploit Dead Sea resources.
The legal case
Some Israeli Dead Sea companies operate within Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), others claim to operate only within Israel, but the fact is that all such enterprises are complicit and as such, are legitimate BDS targets. Under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) - the laws of occupation - Israel must respect the rule of the usufruct. Usufruct is the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another's property, short of the destruction or waste of its substance.
Exploiting of finite minerals of the Dead Sea unsustainably as Israel is doing (even inside its territory) and furthermore the theft of water downstream in the Jordan River, which is the main cause for its alarming shrinking, is degrading the "capital" of this "immovable resource" which Israel has the duty to preserve for the occupied population as a shared natural resource. All the while the Occupied Population are prevented from access and from contribution to the sustainable management of this sensitive ecosystem. Israel is therefore in violation of the rule of the usufruct.
Violation of the rule of the usufruct is per se NOT a serious violation of IHL/human rights or an international crime that would result in individual criminal responsibility or third state responsibility. However in the case of the Dead Sea, as a shared natural resource, this violation may constitute pillage, which under IHL is a war crime. Israel uses pillage to deny the right to self-determination of Palestinians, which includes the right to sovereignty over natural resources (serious violation of IHRL).
The above argument (i.e. rule of the usufruct + pillage) cannot be used when Israel/Israeli companies extract natural resources inside Israel and these resources are NOT interconnected and shared with the OPT. But the Dead Sea is shared with the OPT and therefore an argument based on IHL applies.
This is the legal basis for targeting any Israeli company exploiting the Dead Sea (specifically) on the basis of complicity with violations of international law.
Jericho Dead sea products
Parent company Paloma Dead Sea Ltd introduced its line of Jericho Cosmetics in 1983. Located in Caesarea, Israel, Paloma manufactures and markets Dead Sea ‘therapeutic’ products, and includes Hilton International, Wella Cosmetics, Wallgreens and the controversial Ahava in its client list. Paloma also sells Jericho products wholesale internationally to individual franchise operators to sell on, as is the case with the stalls in Aberdeen. Which individual is operating a Jericho stall in any given location in any given country is irrelevant to the campaign – it is the products being sold that are being targeted. In the case of Jericho in Aberdeen, if the franchise operator chose to source his beauty products from an ethical source his operation would be of no interest to the campaign, regardless of his nationality.
Israel has numerous Dead Sea companies, many operating from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli Dead Sea industry is thriving, while Palestinians are denied access to their own Dead Sea resources, a situation enforced by Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank. Despite the efforts of the pro-Israel lobby, SPSC will continue to highlight the complicity of these companies in Israel’s illegal occupation and oppression of Palestine, and we call for a boycott of all Israeli Dead Sea companies until this illegal exploitation ceases and Palestinians are granted access to their own resources.