The Israeli assault on Gaza at the end of December 2008 and into January 2009 was a tipping point for many with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For CODEPINK it no longer felt possible to sit on the sidelines and do nothing while white phosphorous bombs rained down on the people of Gaza – bombs paid for by American tax dollars. CODEPINK led several humanitarian delegations to Gaza, in March and June of 2009, where we witnessed the devastating wake of Operation Cast Lead, and saw the debilitating effects of a two-year blockade on the people of the Gaza Strip. We also went to Israel where we met with Palestinians and Israelis who were working for a just peace for both their peoples, and who invited us to join their struggle.
Decades of a so-called “peace process” have only resulted in further dispossession and oppression of Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories: home demolitions in East Jerusalem, settlement expansion in the West Bank, the Annexation wall separating Palestinians from their land and from each other, and the terrorizing of Gazan fishermen and West Bank farmers. What recourse do we have as concerned citizens, whose tax dollars are subsidizing a brutal occupation and whose government blocks any meaningful international response to Israel”s flouting of international law? We have at our disposal the non-violent tool of boycott, which was successfully used during the Civil Rights Movement here in the United States and against the Apartheid Regime of South Africa.
In June of 2009 CODEPINK launched its Stolen Beauty boycott campaign against the Israeli cosmetics manufacturer Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories. We chose Ahava because, although it labels its products as “made in Israel,” its main manufacturing plant is located in an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank; and its practice of excavating mud from the shores of the Dead Sea in the Occupied West Bank for use in its products is against international law. The settlements in the West Bank–all of which are illegal under international law–are an impediment to a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
In September 2009, following the endorsement of CODEPINK”s Stolen Beauty Ahava boycott by the U.S. Campaign Against the Israeli Occupation, CODEPINK Women for Peace signed onto the official Palestinian Unified Call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions. In so doing, we join with hundreds of Palestinian civil society groups and many international organizations committed to pressuring Israel into adherence with international and human rights law.