Kristin Davis, star of Sex in the City is, “the new face of Ahava” the Israeli cosmetic company which specialises in natural skin care products made from Dead Sea minerals. “I’m honoured to be a part of a beauty legend that dates back to Cleopatra,” she said. Unfortunately, Ahava cosmetic products are made in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Jewish settlement built in the Palestinian West Bank. Ahava’s extraction of Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea is, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, illegal use by an occupying power of stolen resources for its own profit. To add insult to injury, Ahava’s labels claim Israel to be the country of origin, something decried by Oxfam and other human rights groups as blatantly misleading. Ironically, Kristin Davis is a spokeswoman for Oxfam – or rather was until this week when they suspended her (see here for details). Hopefully, Kristin will now sever her relationship with the cosmetics-maker, regain her platform with Oxfam, and campaign for the human rights of all who have been dispossessed.
Not surprisingly the subject of ‘the Land’ is deeply controversial and highly politicised. Even its name – Canaan, Israel, Palestine, the Promised Land – says as much about our presuppositions as our knowledge of Middle East geography: Promised Land? Promised to whom? Under what terms? For what purpose?