“Boycott Israeli Goods!” rang out on the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday as local activists picketed a luxury skin care store that specializes in the sale of Israeli products. The Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign organized an informational picket of Lavan: Body Mind and Soap on Sunday, November 20, 2011 in downtown Vancouver.
BIAC called for a picket of Lavan in response to the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until Palestinian human and national rights are recognized and implemented. The BDS call urges that Israeli products – as well as academic and cultural institutions – be boycotted as a method of international grassroots pressure on Israel to end its occupation and recognize Palestinian rights.
Lavan boasts of its Israeli products – every product in the store bears a “Made in Israel” tag, and Lavan’s advertising boasts of “secrets from the Dead Sea.” Lavan notes that its name, Hebrew for “white,” “was chosen to represent purity and cleanliness but also to bring Canada and Israel together with the color the two countries share on their flag.”
BIAC activists carried signs highlighting Lavan’s Israeli connection: “Here’s a Secret from the Dead Sea: Israeli Apartheid Means No One Is Free!”; “Lavan Soap Can’t Wash Away Israeli Crimes;” “Boycott Lavan Soap: Support Palestinian Rights!” Activists also distributed hundreds of informational flyers to a busy Sunday Granville Street crowd that provided a satirical look at Lavan’s products and information about the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
Picketers pointed out that a shared flag colour was far from all that is shared by Israel and Canada – as the flyer pointed out, “they also share a violent colonial history and genocidal policies against the indigenous populations of both lands.” Protesters also pointed out that while Lavan brags of its Dead Sea treatments, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have been denied access to the Dead Sea since 2000.
In response to the announcement of the picket, Lavan called for a “buycott,” making false, inflammatory and racist claims about BIAC, including stating that they fear violence because of the “amount of anger and hatred the Palestinians and their supporters hold towards the state of Israel.” On their Facebook page, Lavan invoked the Stanley Cup riots and asserted that Occupy Vancouver has met a “violent end” (as the occupation peacefully continues), demanding a Vancouver Police presence. Lavan was joined in their “buycott” call by the Jewish Independent, who called the picket “targeted intimidation.”
Indeed, Lavan did muster some supporters, including several men who stated that “There is no such thing as Palestine,” and shouted about killing Arabs and Palestinians, and a man in an Israeli military uniform who emerged from Lavan toward the end of the picket to wave an Israeli flag. Lest anyone remain unsure of Lavan’s commitment to Israel’s economy and politics, Lavan’s response to the picket made it quite clear.
During the picket, a number of passers-by approached picketers to tell them they hadn’t been aware of the facts about Israeli goods and Lavan, and wouldn’t buy there in the future. Picketers made plans to return to Lavan in the future, stating that Lavan, like the Mountain Equipment Co-Op, ZIM shipping, and other BDS campaign targets in the Vancouver area, would continue to be boycotted until it stops its economic support of occupation and apartheid in Palestine.
Video of the Lavan protest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM7aT1pU-ew
Download Lavan flyer: http://www.boycottisraeliapartheid.org/biac/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/lavan-flyer.pdf
For more information about the Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign:http://www.boycottisraeliapartheid.org/