Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Medea Benjamin plays the loyalty card; Code Pink fights "pillaging of mud"

Medea Benjamin, leader of the activist group Code Pink, has accused members of congress who are visiting Israel this summer of being disloyal. (Read here: OpEdNews - Article: Does Your Congressperson Represent You -- Or Israel?)

Tellingly, she illustrates that column with an almost 10 year old photograph of Paul Wolfowitz addressing a pro-Israel rally in front of the capitol building. Time was that such accusations of disloyalty, also frequently focused on Jews, were the stuff of the far right. I guess that McCarthyite impulse has crossed the left-right barrier.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, Benjamin writes in that blog post that

"Going on an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel is the moral equivalent of using an Anglo-Boer travel company to visit apartheid-era South Africa."

That lying comparison never gets old for some people.

Code Pink also tweeted today that they are campaigning for the travel guidebook company Lonely Planet to stop listing Ahava stores in their guidebooks. When I tweeted back to ask why, the response I got from the Boycott Ahava campaign, which is working with Code Pink on this boycott effort, indicated that they charge Ahava with "pillaging mud" for use in its cosmetics. (Read here.) They claim that, because Ahava works with a kibbutz located in an otherwise uninhabited area of the Dead Sea coast just over the 1967 border, the mud used is a "pillaged natural resource" (although they haven't offered any evidence that the mud is sourced from the kibbutz). All this alleged pillaging of mud, they claim, violates international law. Considering that the legal issues concerning that kibbutz are not clear, that the source of the mud used by Ahava may not even be from that kibbutz, and that the "pillaged" material in question is mud which is hardly in short supply, this issue seems to be entirely manufactured in order to push for the boycott of an Israeli import. Nobody is harmed in any way by Ahava's operations, so nobody would be helped by such a boycott.

I can't imagine that Code Pink would be worried about this alleged pillaging of mud were it not for the fact that they're looking for ways to demonize and isolate Israel by promoting BDS. They can prove me wrong of course. All they have to do is campaign to defend mud which they feel is being pillaged by any country other than Israel.

I just noticed that Boycott Ahava has followed up with a tweet saying that their campaign is supported by MeretzUSA, B'tselem and "12 rabbis". They didn't indicate if those 12 rabbis constitute the entire membership of the two organizations they cited.

UPDATE: (8/11/2011 11:00 AM)

A comment posted to the Facebook link to this post indicates that Ahava purchases Dead Sea mud from Jordanian businesses.  That would make Ahava an example of the sort of Arab-Israeli cooperation one would think that pro-peace groups would want to support, not boycott.

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