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Body Shop & the Arab boycott of Israel
Summary: An advocate of boycotts and corporate responsibility is now feeling the heat for their own actions.

The Body Shop, a British skin care products retailer with a large US presence, has been engaged in human and animal activism issues since its inception. In fact, the company was built on the idea of creating products that are environmentally friendly and not tested on animals.

The Body Shop is no stranger to boycotts. Its founder, Anita Roddick, has used boycotts to promote her political agenda for years. According to The Voice (Issue 4), a publication of The Body Shop, "60% of shoppers are willing to boycott products or stores on ethical grounds" and "67% claim to consider a company's ethical stance when buying a product." Boycott Watch believes these numbers are highly inflated both because, unlike The Body Shop, the vast majority of businesses are not created with an underlying political stance; and because most people are not consumed by a need to discover the political stance of every company executive of the products they purchase.

Currently, The Body Shop itself is under intense boycott pressure after an article titled "The End Of Israel" was published by the American Thinker magazineand an email campaign based on the article showing bias against Israel by The Body Shop soon followed. Boycott Watch researched the article and found a press release on The Body Shop web site boasting an award the company gave the National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, which the American Thinker article is about.

A detailed self-description of the National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced is available on the "Global IDP Project - Monitoring Internal Displacement Worldwide" and is linked below. The organization calls the establishment of Israel 'al-Nakba', or The Disaster, which in Arabic is a declaration of illegitimacy of the existence of Israel. The document also mentions the Suhmata play, which is a violent play that teaches Arab children to hate Jews and to grow up to be the generation to destroy Israel by forcing the Jews into the sea.

These actions as promoted in the organizations own introduction and description clearly shows that the organization does not have peaceful intentions. Rather, the National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced is a hate organization with the aim of the destruction of Israel and removal of all Jews from the region, even by forced drowning - a form of murder.

As such, the organization is not seeking peace with Israel. It is working toward an Arabification of Israel, thus destroying Israel by creating an Arab majority in the Jewish State. This plan is in no way conducive to establishing peace with Israel, rather peace without Israel. The organization never accepted Israel, and as demonstrated by their choice of words, and is in favor of its destruction.

Furthermore, the organization works with and claims "250,000 Palestinians currently living in Israel were displaced during the Israeli-Arab conflict from their homes." The organization does not, however, work with or even mention the 650,000 Jews who were displaced from their homes as a result of the Israeli-Arab conflict, nor does the organization mention that Israel was attacked by all its Arab neighbors at the moment of its declaration of independence, thus creating the displaced persons. Since it's creation in 1948, Israel absorbed all displaced Jews from Arab lands, yet the Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority maintain the status quo by not absorbing displaced Arabs.

War is not pretty. The proper humanitarian thing to do after a war is to absorb displaced people into society. After more than 50 years, one would think that the Arab world should have been able to absorb all their brethren. As such, one can conclude that by choosing not to absorb and normalize life of their own people, Arab governments are using displaced Arabs as a political tool. The Body Shop, but issuing the award, is perpetuating and encouraging non-absorption of displaced Arabs by awarding bad behavior, and in fact encouraging continued displacement. By giving an award to a partisan organization, The Body Shop, which has stores in Arab countries but none in Israel, is also declaring itself a political partisan in the Arab-Israeli conflict, which they deny.

Boycott Watch contacted The Body Shop, and in their statement, The Body Shop confirmed they appointed the jury and paid the prize money, yet distanced themselves from the cash award they paid. Boycott Watch can not believe any person or company would give money to a cause they objected to just because someone said to, unless of course The Body Shop agreed with the findings. Funding something you do not agree with does not make sense, especially from a company founded with humanitarian goals. Distancing the company from the award is also difficult because the company founder and co-founder, Anita Roddick and Gordon Roddick, are both on the jury granting the award. Additionally, The Body Shop calls for corporate responsibility globally while at the same time they do not appear to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Boycott Watch then contacted The Body Shop with more specific questions and the London headquarters office replied. We asked: Does the Body Shop advocate the positions of the award winners and / or the jury? The Body Shop spokesperson replied: "The Body Shop supports the integrity of the Award jury and the robustness of the selection process." In other words, The Body Shop stands by and supports the jury findings, yet they also claim not to have a position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Boycott Watch also requested and received a profile of the jury members, as linked below. The jury has one Palestinian activist, but no balance from any Israeli on the other side of the issue.

Regardless of the politics, history and numbers, the underlying facts as listed in the email related to the boycott call against The Body Shop are accurate. Boycott Watch therefore confirms the boycott as being based on accurate information.
Body Shop Official Statement:
Statement in response to www.americanthinker.com article:
(The Body Shop and the End of Israel )

The Body Shop does not have a position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The four winners of the 2002 Human Rights Award, including the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, were chosen by an independent jury, including international human rights experts, for being the best examples of peaceful grassroots activism on the issue of housing within a human rights framework, regardless of their religion, ethnicity or nationality.

The Body Shop supports the integrity of the Award jury and the robustness of the selection process but played no direct role in choosing the winners themselves, other than providing four of the 14 jury members, of which the Chair is has always been an independent member. The Body Shop is committed to the issue of human rights in a number of ways. For example, through The Body Shop Foundation, the company gives support to a broad range of small grassroots organisations, which are at the forefront of positive social and environmental change. This support is given for people of all races, gender, nationality and ethnic groups, without prejudice, but based on criteria including a project's demonstration of commitment, vision and sound management.
Source Material and Links
American Thinker article:
The Body Shop Homepage
The Body Shop pages about the award
The Body Shop Jury Profile

Boycotts advocated by Body Shop and its founder:
Boycott of Esso
Founders Personal Web Site
Anti Corproate Article

Articles about National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced
Award Press Release
Profile Posted On Global IDP Project - Monitoring Internal Displacement Worldwide  (Alternative link)

Partial list of boycott advocates
JtB Special Action - The Body Shop Boycott
Israel Insider Forum

Related Articles
Gulf News: Body Shop to donate one day's revenues to Palestine

US contact information for the Body Shop

The Body Shop International PLC
5036 One World Way
Wake Forest 
North Carolina, 27587 USA 
Tel: 919 554 4900 
Fax: 919 554 4361
Customer Service: 800-661-2154

Main office (UK) contact information:
The Body Shop International PLC 
West Sussex
BN17 6LS
Tel: +44 (0)1903 731500
Fax: +44 (0)1903 726250
© 2005 Divestment Watch