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Monday, January 17, 2011

BDS claims two victories - and is caught lying about both

From Palestine News Network, today:
This week, leading British retail business John Lewis is refusing to stock goods from Israeli cosmetics company Ahava. Canadian retailer The Bay also confirmed that it has discontinued sales of Ahava products.

John Lewis’ decision signifies yet another victory for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Europe. John Lewis’ Managing Director, Andy Street, wrote to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in a letter dated January 7:

“As a socially responsible retailer, John Lewis takes very seriously the treatment of workers and their working conditions. We expect all our suppliers not only to obey the law, but also to respect the rights, interests and well-being of their employees, their communities and the environment. In relation to your specific enquiry about Ahava Dead Sea products, I can confirm that John Lewis has ceased stocking these particular products.”

Sarah Colborne, PSC’s Director of Campaigns and Operations, said, “PSC welcomes John Lewis’ decision to stop stocking Ahava products. Israel’s continued attacks on the Palestinian population – whether living under a brutal blockade in Gaza, under illegal occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or under constant assault inside Israel, has led to a seismic shift in public opinion, with the movement for peace and justice for Palestinians gaining massive support internationally.”
However, JPost already reported yesterday:
One of the UK’s largest retailers has refuted a claim by an anti- Israel campaign group that it no longer stocks products from a major Israeli cosmetics company for political reasons, condemning the group for creating “false and misleading” information.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) implied on Friday that the awardwinning British retail giant the John Lewis Partnership – which owns the John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarket chains – had stopped stocking products from Israeli cosmetics company Ahava after PSC wrote to the company’s managing director.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Friday, a spokesman for John Lewis emphatically denied PSC’s claim, stating that while the retailer had stopped stocking Ahava products, it was purely a commercial decision.

He added that John Lewis was an “apolitical” organization, and that the decision to cease stocking Ahava was made “well before” PSC sent its letter.

“To be clear, John Lewis’s decision to no longer stock Ahava beauty products was a commercial decision based solely on the sales performance of the products.

“Our buyers regularly review the performance of all our ranges, with new products being added and less successful ones being removed throughout the year,” the spokesman told the Post.

“I can confirm that the PSC wrote to Andy Street to ask firstly about whether we had ceased to sell Ahava products, and secondly our stance on ethical sourcing.

“At John Lewis, ensuring that we reply straightforwardly to any query is an important element in the way we communicate with our customers. Andy responded to confirm that we no longer sell Ahava products, a decision which had been taken and implemented well before he received the PSC’s letter. This was a purely commercial decision.

“In addition, in the content of his letter of response, Andy outlined John Lewis's responsible sourcing policy. This information is entirely unrelated to the decision to cease stocking Ahava products; however the person who wrote the PSC’s press release put the two elements together to create a false and misleading quote,” the spokesman said.

John Lewis said it stocks a vast range of Israeli goods, and will continue to do so.

“We can confirm that we continue to stock products sourced from Israel,” the spokesmans said.
And as far as Canadian retailer Hudson Bay is concerned:
Last week, after a regularly-scheduled review of the products it offers, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) discontinued sales of AHAVA beauty products, primarily because of sales results which had been declining for several years.

Although this decision was made by HBC solely for commercial reasons, it occurred at the same time as an aggressive campaign by several groups advocating a boycott of AHAVA products. At no point did political considerations enter into the exercise of HBC's business judgment. HBC has made it clear that it has not "bowed to political pressure" in the past, has not done so now and will not do so in the future. HBC neither subscribes to nor endorses politically-motivated boycotts of merchandise from countries with whom Canada has open and established trading relationships, including Israel.

AHAVA products will soon be reformulated and redesigned as a totally changed brand. The new AHAVA products will be ready by mid-spring and is planned to be re-launched at HBC stores across Canada. We encourage consumers across Canada to purchase those products as soon as they are available.

This statement is being jointly issued by Bonnie Brooks, Chief Adventurer & CEO, Hudson’s Bay Company, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Moshe Ronen, National Chair, Canada Israel Committee.
BDS proponents are so desperate for a major victory that they will happily lie to make themselves feel as if they have an impact.