This Holiday Season: don’t buy into the Israeli Occupation

As many of us are finishing up (or beginning!) our holiday shopping, we want to encourage you to not purchase products from companies that profit from Israel’s illegal apartheid and occupation of Palestine.  The below list is inspired by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a means of nonviolent resistance to Israel’s violations of international law and human rights.

Below, please find some companies and products (that you might be thinking of buying as gifts) to avoid this holiday season:
SodaStream manufactures carbonating devices and flavorings for soft drinks. SodaStream’s main production site is in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mishor Edomin.  The company conceals this fact by using a ‘Made in Israel’ label (this is a common practice by companies manufacturing/growing their products in the occupied West Bank).  As an Israeli settlement manufacturer, it exploits Palestinian land, resources and labor.  Learn more about why we’re targeting Soda Stream
Hewlett Packard is best known for its printers and computers.  HP also provides infrastructure for the Israeli occupation.  HP biometric scanners are installed in checkpoints throughout the West Bank, reinforcing widespread restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement.  In 2008, HP signed a contract with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior for the production and manufacturing of biometric ID cards for Israel’s citizens, including the Palestinian residents of Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.  For this reason, HP is often equated with Polaroid (one of the major targets of the South Africa Boycott and Divestment movement), which – in addition to selling civilian products – manufactured the passbooks system that controlled the movement of blacks throughout the country.  HP also administered the Israeli navy’s IT infrastructure (including the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip), and provides services and technologies to two of the biggest Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank: Modi’in Ilit and Ariel.
A recent report by Who Profits found that all of the major Israeli wineries use grapes from occupied territory in their wines.  Many residential and commercial activities in the occupied West Bank are encouraged (financially) by the Israeli government, despite their illegality under international law.  The wine industry is no different.  Israelis who cultivate vineyards on occupied territory are allocated subsidized water quotas and they receive funds from the Ministry of Agriculture for planting and building agricultural facilities, from the Ministry of Defense for paving roads and for fencing in the plots, and from the Ministry of Tourism for turning the vineyards and wineries into tourist attractions.
Hadiklaim Dates are grown in the Occupied West Bank, as are most of the dates and many other fruits and vegetables exported by Israel.  These companies often employ Palestinians (including children), who are subject to exploitation and receive lower wages than their Israeli counterparts.  If you’re buying dates this holiday season, support local agriculture and look for dates grown in the US.
Ahava – Dead Sea Laboratories is a privately-owned Israeli cosmetics corporation which operates from the occupied West Bank and is located in the occupied area of the Dead Sea.  The Ahava factory and visitors’ center is located in the Mitzpe Shalem settlement, and a large percentage of Ahava shares are held by two Israeli West Bank settlements.  Ahava’s activity accounts for approximately half of the natural resources extracted from the Dead Sea region, which has an extremely delicate ecosystem.  There are plenty of other beauty products that don’t exploit Palestinian land and resources!  Read WhoProfit’s entire report on Ahava (May 2012).
While it’s not exactly a holiday item, if you use TIAA-CREF as your pension fund, sign our petition asking TIAA-CREF to divest from companies that profit from the occupation and other violations of human rights and international law.  These companies include Caterpillar (which supplies armor-plated and weaponized bulldozers that demolish Palestinian homes and uproot Palestinian orchards)Elbit Systems (which provides drones and other surveillance equipment on the illegal separation/apartheid wall); Veolia Environnement (a transportation and waste management corporation that operates a landfill for illegal settlements and is contracted to operate the upcoming illegal lightrail system which will connect settlements with one another and with Jerusalem); Northrop Grumman (which produces parts for the Apache and F-16 aircrafts used by Israel during the ’08-’09 assault on Gaza); Motorola Solutions, (which provides surveillance systems and communication systems around and for Israeli settlements, checkpoints, and military camps); and G4S (which provides services to Israeli prisons, military checkpoints and to firms in illegal settlements in the West Bank).
There are many other ways to act in solidarity with Palestine and to participate in the global BDS movement (and many other companies to boycott and divest from).  We encourage you to do more than to avoid buying these products.  You can write a letter to these companies, or the stores selling their products, letting them know you want them to stop profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestine.
Have a wonderful holiday season, and thank you for keeping peace and justice in mind as you do your holiday shopping!
(Thanks to Sofia Wolman for compiling this list of resources)