Dear Presbyterian Delegates,As a Rabbi, for reasons deeply rooted in Torah, I am writing to support Overture 15-2 “On Boycotting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories.” You have an opportunity to stand for human rights, peace and justice by supporting the overture to boycott Ahava cosmetics, which are made in a factory on occupied land with illegally sourced natural resources.
I especially applaud this initiative because it makes a crucial distinction between boycotting products made on land and from waters and minerals stolen from the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank, and other proposals for boycotts that would apply to companies, institutions, and people in the legitimate state of Israel.
The Torah forbids us to move landmarks so as surreptitiously steal the land and property of others. Violation of this precept, together with many others, is exactly the practice of the Occupation. Despite all the deep flaws that infect Israeli society as well as many other societies – for example, our own United States —Israel itself remains a legitimate state in international law and in the fabric of its people. Its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its imprisonment of Gaza are not legitimate acts of its government.
So I welcome this overture, pointed like a laser-beam against the Occupation. And I urge the Presbyterian Church to undertake what I think would be far more powerful actions to end the occupation, making Palestine free and Israel safe: Agreeing that every Presbyterian church throughout the United States will, at least once a year (1) bring an Israeli and a Palestinian to speak together before the congregation on behalf of detailed plans that have already been worked out for a two-state peace; and (2) send large delegations of its congregants to meet with its own Congressmembers to demand that the US support these plans with vigorous action, not rhetoric only.
With blessings for shalom, salaam, peace —
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center
6711 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia PA 19119