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Dec. 2016 – UMKR has a (slightly) new name: United Methodists for Kairos Response
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A. Ahava (an Israeli company)
- In July 2009, supporters of Palestinian rights launched a global boycott campaign against cosmetics maker Ahava for its role in an illegal settlement. Pressure on Oxfam, an international human rights organization, resulted in Oxfam’s severance of ties with Kristin Davis, who also acted as Ahava’s spokeswoman. Coalition partners in London engaged the UK’s Camden Trading Standards Office to investigate the legality of Ahava’s labeling. Dutch activists and a Minister of the Parliament succeeded in convincing the Dutch Foreign Ministry to launch its own investigation of Ahava’s business methods. Partners in Paris suit against the cosmetics chain Sephora for carrying Ahava products. See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2010/ahava-rattle-2885
- In 2011, the boycott campaign led to the closing of Ahava’s flagship store in London.
- In 2012, Petter’s Pharmacy in London stopped carrying Ahava, joining many other
retailers who yielded to boycott pressures.
- Ahava tried in 2013 to overcome consumer anger by moving its executives to a location in Israel, but this did not obscure the fact that Ahava’s operations are on occupied land. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-08-14/west-bank-cosmetics-maker-muddies-address-as-eu-boosts-sanctions
- In 2014, online retailer GILT stopped carrying Ahava after a campaign by Palestinian human rights advocates.
- In 2014, the government of Kuwait announced that it would boycott Ahava and other settlement companies.
- In 2015, Ahava announced it would either move the company inside Israel or would sell its factory in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem to a Chinese company with which negotiations were under way. Clearly boycott has had an impact on this decision.
B. Assa Abloy (a Swedish company)
- In October, 2008, Diakonia, the Church of Sweden, and SwedWatch published a joint report about Mul-T-Lock, a division of Swedish conglomerate Assa Abloy which was located in the illegal settlement industrial zone of Barkan. Discussion of possible boycotts and divestment took place.
- Assa Abloy responded by stating that its involvement in the Israeli occupation was “inappropriate” and declared that the plant would be moved from the illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
- In 2012, Assa Abloy heeded appeals from the Church of Sweden and other prominent Swedish organizations and finally moved its Mul-T-Lock door factory from the industrial zone of the Barkan colony in the occupied West Bank to a location inside Israel, merging it with an Israeli company.
C. Cemex (a Mexican company)
- Cemex, which has a subsidiary in two settlements, also owned a quarry at Yatir, which was extracting raw materials from the Palestinian territory and using them for financial gain in violation of the Hague Conventions. It has been on United Methodist lists of companies of concern for years.
- Norwegian insurance giant KLP Kapitalforvaltning divested from Cemex in June over its operations in the West Bank, particularly the quarry.
- In September 2015, Cemex announced that it had sold the Yatir Quarry. Cemex still operates factories in the settlements through its subsidiary Readymix. It remains in United Methodist pension portfolios.
D. CRH (an Irish company - formerly Cement Roadstone Holdings)
- CRH has long been a boycott and divestment target of the Irish supporters of Palestine for its partial ownership of Nesher Cement. Nesher is the major supplier of cement in Israel, and its products have been used to build the separation wall and checkpoints inside the West Bank, as well as the settlements.
- Irish advocates have held major demonstrations calling on CRH to cut its ties with the settlements.
- CRH announced in early January 2016 that it was selling its stake in Nesher Cement.
E. G4S (a British company)
- The Gates Foundation Asset Trust, which manages investments for the $40bn Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said in June that it sold its stake in the UK security services firm G4S, one of the companies targeted by BDS. See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/soros-fund-drops-shares-in-israels-sodastream
- The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits divested from G4S in 2014 after a letter of concern about the company’s involvement with Israel’s occupation was sent from a member of UMKR.
- Columbia University divested its 220,000 shares from G4S.
- In June 2014, G4S announced it would end all its contracts with Israeli prisons, including those in the West Bank, within three years. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/06e06252-ecc9-11e3-8963-00144feabdc0.html-axzz3nHY5CQWe
- Barkan Wineries, a Heineken subsidiary was targeted for boycott by the Israeli justice group Gush Shalom. The Dutch government also expressed its displeasure at the association between a Dutch company and a company in the illegal settlements.
- Heineken acknowledged this when it moved the winery to Kibbutz Hulda inside Israel.
G. Royalife (an Israeli company)
- Royalife is a major supplier of linens to Williams Sonoma in the United States. The company imported more than 75,000 pounds of the company’s products in one recent year. For years, it has been located in the Barkan Industrial Zone, part of an illegal settlement in the West Bank.
- UMKR made phone calls and wrote letters to the Williams Sonoma management informing them of the company’s location in an illegal settlement on occupied land.
- After receiving no response from repeated efforts to contact Williams Sonoma, UMKR launched a boycott of the company’s products during the Advent Season 2014.
- In December 2015, UMKR learned that Royalife had left its location in the Barkan Industrial Zone.
H. Orange (a French company)
- Orange Communications has authorized shops or kiosks and use of its masts in a number of illegal settlements through its franchise Partner Communications. After facing serious boycott pressure over this practice, Orange announced in 2015 that it would end the franchise agreement within two years.
- In January 2016, Orange announced that its relationship with Partner would end in February, and the Orange name will no longer be associated with the Partner enterprise in West Bank settlements.
I. SodaStream (an Israeli company)
- Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, divested from SodaStream following BDS pressure.
- Grassroots boycott activism saw SodaStream dropped by major retailers across North America and Europe including Macy’s in the US and John Lewisin the UK.
- SodaStream was forced to close its flagship store in Brighton in the UK as a result of regular pickets of the store.
- UMKR added SodaStream to its list of companies to boycott as a result of the church’s call on all nations to ban the import of goods and services from the settlements.
- SodaStream’s share price fell dramatically in 2015 as sales dried up, particularly in North America. After reaching a high of $64 per share in October 2013, the stock fell to around $20 per share in late summer 2015. SodaStream estimated its third quarter revenue would be $125 million, down almost 14 percent from the same period the year before.
- In September 2015, SodaStream completed the move of its manufacturing operations out of the West Bank. See more at: http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/sodastream-closes-illegal-settlement-factory-in-response-growing-boycott-campaign-12782
J. Unilever (a Dutch company)
- In 2006, the Dutch group United Civilians for Peace (UCP) began pressuring Unilever over their pretzel factory, Beigel and Beigel, in the illegal Barkan Industrial Zone, attached to the Ariel settlement.
- In 2008, the French supermarket group Carrefour and British department store Harrods boycotted the snacks
- Later in 2008, Unilever announced that it would divest from Beigel and Beigel, but that did not happen.
- In 2013, the UN released a report last Thursday calling for companies and governments to “assess the human rights impact of their activities” and end any connection to the settlements”
- A few weeks after the UN announcement in 2013, Unilever shut down its operations in the illegal settlement of Ariel and moved its production inside the Green Line, to Israel. http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/unilever-settlement-production
K. Veolia Environnement (a French company)
- Over an eight-year period, Veolia lost more than $23 billion in contracts as a result of lobbying by citizens concerned about the company’s role in the illegal settlements. For a list of these contracts and the groups that lobbied for their cancellation or refusal, see http://www.globalexchange.org/economicactivism/veolia/victories
- In 2012, Friends Fiduciary, the Quaker pension fund, divested from Veolia Environnement, citing its provision of segregated water services to Israeli settlers in the Palestinian Territories and its large landfill in the occupied Jordan River Valley.
- In 2013, the large US pension fund TIAA-CREF removed Veolia Environnement from its Social Choice Funds portfolio, though the stock remained in other portfolios.
- In 2014, the government of Kuwait excluded Veolia from a $750 million contract and announced a nation-wide boycott of the company.
- In September 2015, Veolia announced the sale of all its assets in the West Bank to Oaktree Capital Management LP. There is no doubt that divestment and boycott were the reasons behind this sale, and all the media reports of the sale mentioned this.
Note: One concern is that Oaktree Capital Management LP, which purchased Veolia’s operations in the West Bank, is listed as one of the main advisors for the United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits International Equity Fund.