NEW YORK — “Sex & The City” star Kristin Davis, well known for her work as a goodwill ambassador of international human rights organization Oxfam and for her lucrative spokesperson job for Israeli cosmetics company Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, has been suspended from all publicity work by Oxfam for the duration of her contract with Ahava. Page Six of the New York Post reported the suspension today (read it here).
Last month, the women’s peace group CODEPINK launched a boycott campaign of the cosmetics company, “Stolen Beauty” (www.stolenbeauty.org), bringing to light Ahava’s illegal business practices. Ahava manufactures its products at a Jewish settlement in a plant near the shores of the Dead Sea in Occupied Palestine. The settlement itself is illegal according to international law, as are all the settlements in the Occupied West Bank. According to the 4th Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to exploit for profit the natural resources of an occupied territory. Ahava harvests mud and minerals from the shores of the Dead Sea in Occupied Palestine, and this exploitation is illegal. Ahava also labels its products, which are made in Occupied Palestine, as “products of Israel,” which is another breach of international law. Ironically, Oxfam has been a global leader in the fight to expose those illegal practices, while its ambassador actively promotes them.
In June, CODEPINK activists hand-delivered a letter to Davis at an Ahava publicity appearance at Lord & Taylor in New York City. The letter urged her to drop her ties to Ahava and live up to her Oxfam mission; the fact that her Oxfam affiliation is being used to burnish Ahava’s image is unconscionable.
During the final week of July, Oxfam began circulating a statement saying it has suspended Davis’s publicity work for Oxfam. Clearly, just a few weeks into the Stolen Beauty campaign, heads are turning!
But Oxfam’s statement leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Journalists, activists, and Oxfam members and supporters will probably wonder about the following:
Kristin Davis and Oxfam appear to have come, at some point, to a private understanding that she will not do publicity for Oxfam during the remainder of the term of her contract with Ahava. When was this secret deal between Oxfam and Davis reached? When will her contract with Ahava end? Were Oxfam staff, board members, and general membership informed of Oxfam’s understanding with Davis, and if so, when?
Davis commenced her services with Ahava in September 2007, continued to conduct high-profile activities with Oxfam for well over a year after that—and continues to be identified as an Oxfam ambassador. What does Oxfam think of the use of its goodwill in the burnishing of Ahava’s image? Are Davis’s publicity services for Oxfam indeed simply “suspended” or has her ambassadorship been terminated? In other words, is it still correct to identify her as an Oxfam ambassador?
Oxfam says in its statement that Davis was unaware of Ahava’s illegal settlement trade when she signed her contract with Ahava –how does Oxfam know this? Davis has, to our knowledge, never publicly commented on the issue. Is Oxfam saying that Davis is now aware of what Ahava is doing but that she will continue to accept payment from them and remain silent?
Have Davis or her representatives seen or approved Oxfam’s statement about their agreement about suspending her services?
In the absence of a clear picture of Davis and Oxfam’s deal, peace activists around the world will continue to highlight the tragic ironies of Ahava’s use of Oxfam’s goodwill and image through its sponsorship deal with Kristin Davis. Oxfam is a global leader for peace and justice—let’s not allow its deal with Kristin Davis to distract from and sully its heroic work!