pro-Palestinian anti-Israel anti-Semitic activists have turned to their favourite (or perhaps second favourite) outlet, the Independent, to continue their vendetta against Ahava, the Israeli producer of Dead Sea beauty products. This spite and malice of British BDS campaigners against Ahava has been amply documented by Richard Millett over the last couple of years, and his blog posts provide infuriating and alarming reading.
This time the BDS-ers use the Independent to vent their fury and frustration at the unlikeliest of targets: the venerable Natural History Museum, for allowing Ahava to cooperate in a scientific research project.
The Natural History Museum is today accused by a coalition of prominent academics and cultural figures of helping to break international law by leading a research project which involves an Israeli cosmetics company based in an “illegal” settlement in the occupied West Bank.
In a letter to The Independent, leading scientists and the film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, condemn the London museum – which is the fourth most visited in Britain – for its research collaboration with Ahava – Dead Sea Laboratories (DSL), which sells beauty products based on minerals extracted from the Dead Sea.
Let’s just analyse these first few items. Which international law is the museum breaking? No one has provided chapter, section or sub-paragraph, for the simple reason that there is no such law.
To those who would now quote the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and its infamous ruling that the settlements are illegal, I refer you to Myths and Facts which lays out the bare truth, and not the biased bigotry that the ICJ falsely set out. Here is a small excerpt:
In advising that Jewish settlements are illegal, the ICJ went beyond its own mandate from the General Assembly without being asked to do so.
In paragraph 120 of the Court’s opinion, the ICJ declares:
“The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”
The ICJ based its conclusion on the inappropriate use of an article of the Fourth Geneva Convention which stipulates:
“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
The ICJ leads the reader to believe that expressing “conviction” in regard to the so-called “illegal Israeli actions in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory” is sufficient to make the document a source of law.
The UN Charter does not grant the General Assembly or the International Court of Justice the authority to assign or affect ‘ownership’ of the Territories.
As incredulous as it may be, the ICJ chose to ignore the actual powers vested in the UN General Assembly. A host of anti-Israel resolutions passed annually by the Assembly are not legally binding documents by any measure.
Getting back to the Independent’s article, the authors of the letter in question, especially those specified – Ken Loach and Mike Leigh – are notorious anti-Israel and antisemitic “activists”.
Read, if you can stomach it, all about Ken Loach and his disgraceful attempt to boycott Israel, and Mike Leigh and his own pathetic activism, in order to know whom we are dealing with, and who are behind this renewed effort to boycott Israel.
The museum, which has a substantial academic research team, is co-ordinating NANORETOX, a European Union-funded project looking at any risks to human health and the environment posed by so-called nanoparticles – microscopic engineered materials which scientists are developing for multiple uses from cancer treatment to double glazing.
Once more, the BDS-ers and Israel-haters would prefer to hinder progress and prevent development of health benefits rather than allow Israel to be involved in any such project.
Ahava-DSL, which is one of a dozen institutions and companies involved in the project including two University of London colleges, has its registered headquarters listed in Israel but most of its activities are carried out in Mitzpe Shalem, a Jewish settlement on the edge of the Dead Sea in the West Bank.
Regarding Mitzpe Shalem itself, beyond the fact that its legality as a settlement is irrelevant, as I showed above, the fact remains that Ahava’s products are produced within Israel’s pre-1948 borders, as Y. Ellis, Ahava’s CEO, explained in a letter to business partners:
Claim – “Ahava uses in its products mud excavated in an occupied area, and thus it exploits occupied natural resources for profit, which is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
• The mud and minerals used in Ahava’s cosmetic products are not excavated in an occupied area. The minerals are mined in the Israeli part of the Dead Sea, which is undisputed internationally.
• The mining area and operation are limited in scope, and in no way affect or hinder any future use of minerals from the Dead Sea, or causes any permanent harm to the environment or to the area’s natural resources.
And back to the Independent:
Settlements in the Occupied Territories have been declared illegal under international law by the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.
This line is repeated ad nauseum and almost ad infinitum in both the Independent and the Guardian, as well as a host of other liberal western newspapers. But repetition does not make it true. See my links above.
The Natural History Museum yesterday defended its role in the research, saying that Ahava-DSL was chosen from a listed of scientific partners approved by the European Commission and suggested that any decision to boycott the project could be a challenge to “academic freedom”.In a statement, Professor Ian Owens, the musuem’s director of science, said: “We work within the legal and policy boundaries established by politicians and policy makers, and would not participate in any academic or educational boycotts that could restrict academic freedom.”Ahava-DSL, which has been the subject of a boycott campaign targeting its shops in Europe and America, did not respond to requests for a comment. The company has previously said that the Dead Sea mud and materials used in its products are excavated from Israeli land outside the occupied territories and that Mitzpe Shalem is not an illegal settlement.
Ahava-DSL are completely correct in giving the brush-off to the requests for comment. Just responding to these accusations legitimises them.
As for the Natural History Museum, kol hakavod (kudos) and good for them. The Israel-haters prefer to destroy than to build, to hinder progress rather than to promote it, and always to prioritise their own hate above all else.