The French Monoprix supermarket chain refused a request from a pro-Palestinian group to boycott the Israeli products.

By: JNi.Media

Claudine Vegas, head of the BDS group Collectif Palestine Libre (“Free Palestine Collective”) in Toulouse, which lobbies French businesses to boycott Israeli products, wrote the Monoprix management, which runs hundreds of supermarkets across France, asking them to remove the Ahava (the name means Love) cosmetic products, made by Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem by the Dead Sea.

“Thank you kindly for drawing our attention to Israeli imported products that may contravene the French and European laws and regulations. As you know, any product sold in a store in France must meet the rules of the European and French consumer laws, with an indication of origin and packaging,” Baptiste Peslouan of Monoprix Client Services responded to the letter.

However, she noted that the authorities have told the supermarket chain that as long as their suppliers are able to assure them of the legal origin of the products they market, no argument challenging it is legally admissible. And in that respect, “All our suppliers are thus committed to sell us products that comply with standards and regulations.”

Peslouan informed Vegas that “to date, to our knowledge, the DGCCRF (General Directorate of Competition, Consumption and Repression of Fraud) has submitted no suits against our suppliers, and we have not been informed of any court decision against them.”

“In the event that a court decision would be imposed on a product or supplier, we will not fail to carry out the consequences in compliance with French regulations,” Peslouan wrote.

Vegas wrote back, accusing Monoprix of hiding behind the inefficient DGCCRF while selling “settlement products, which are illegal under international law and the law of European trade.” She then accused Peslouan’s employers of “washing their hands like Pontius Pilate, saying that it is not your problem but that of the European Customs.”

That imagery, comparing the sale of settlement products to the crucifixion, may sound over the top, but is not an unusual metaphor in the modern Palestinian narrative.

“We appeal to your ethics and your honesty, which I hope that you have,” The energetic anti-Israeli lady from Toulouse insisted. “You know that these Ahava cosmetics come from illegal settlements, these products arrive in your stores at the price of plunder, of misery and injustice caused to the Palestinians.”

Ahava is in the process of opening a new plant, near Jerusalem, within the green line, to avoid the boycott. This would presumably mean a loss of jobs to Palestinian workers. The fact that Ahava has ignited the imagination of BDS activists, to the point where the company was forced to close its London store, has to do with the accusation that it is exporting natural resources belonging to the Palestinians, in the form of Dead Sea mud. That being the case, packaging the same mud away from the Dead Sea will probably not change things for the store.

Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories is an Israeli cosmetics company with headquarters in Lod, well within “green line Israel” that manufactures skin care products made of mud and mineral-based compounds from the Dead Sea, which is divided between Jordan and Israel east and west of the green line. Their main manufacturing plant and showroom are in Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli kibbutz located about a mile north of the Dead Sea. The company has flagship stores in Israel, Germany, Hungary, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore. As of 2015, Ahava income was more than $150 million annually.