The French cosmetics company L'Oreal became a target of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) in December 2008, in a campaign called Boycott L'Oreal: Makeup for Israeli Apartheid. L’Oreal operates a factory on a ethnically cleansed Palestinian village inside Israel and exploits minerals from the Dead Sea.
According to the statement issued by the BNC, “L’Oreal’s operations in Israel began in the mid-1990s, motivated in part by political considerations. Since then, L'Oreal Israel, the company's subsidiary in Israel, has operated a factory in the Israeli town of Migdal Haemek in the Lower Galilee. The settlement of Migdal Haemek was established in 1952 on lands belonging to the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of al-Mujaydil, whose original inhabitants are still denied the right to return to their homes. Like almost all other Jewish settlements built in the midst of Palestinian villages in the Galilee, inside Israel, Migdal Haemek discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, denying them the right to buy, rent or live on any part of the town, simply because they are ‘non-Jews.’”
L'Oreal Israel’s “Natural Sea Beauty” product line, exported to 22 countries, uses minerals from the Dead Sea, one-third of whose western shore is in West Bank. The BNC statement notes that “while the entire shore and its resources are systematically closed to Palestinians by Israeli military occupation and apartheid practices, Israel exploits the Dead Sea for international tourism, mining and improving its image.”
In its corporate philanthropy, too, L'Oreal has chosen to align itself with Israeli institutions involved in the repression of Palestinians. In July 2008, L'Oreal gave a $100,000 “lifetime achievement” award to a scientist at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, which, as the BNC explains, “has been a major center for clandestine research and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on behalf of Israel's military establishment, with which it has close ties
L'Oreal brands include Maybelline, Lancome, Matrix, Redken, Garnier, Vichy and Helena Rubinstein. In 2006 L'Oreal purchased The Body Shop, which has a reputation for being socially conscious. In 2002, The Body Shop gave a human rights award to a Palestinian Israeli non-profit that advocates for internally displaced refugees in Israel and for the right of return of refugees. Ironically, they are now owned by L’Oreal, which has a factory on an ethnically cleansed village.