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Lush Lies

According to Friday’s Jewish Chronicle, soap manufacturer Lush says concerns about the lack of a “mixed” workforce would prevent it opening a store in Israel.

Lush claim that they “don’t feel [Israel] is a safe environment to have a store. Would we want a shop where we couldn’t have a mix? We have a multicultural attitude to everything we do; we want everyone in the country where we are trading to be on an equal footing as far as basic human rights go.”

This is of course nonsense. It is a crude lie. Israel has comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation concerning both employment and the provision of goods and services covering inter alia race, religion, nationality, land of origin, sex, sexual orientation, political views, personal status or parenthood.

But, as the JC points out, Lush have a branch in Saudi Arabia, where not only are there are no such protections, but discrimination is both legislatively and culturally enforced.

Saudi Arabia forces strict segregation of the sexes and consequently opportunities for women to work are severely curtailed. Certain types of work are deemed ‘unsuitable’ for woman and are reserved for men. Women may not drive cars, travel without the permission of a male relative and a chaperon. Disgracefully, almost 1 in 3 women in Saudi Arabia isn’t even literate. So in what way is Lush satisfied that all Saudi citizens are on an equal footing. How gender-mixed is their Saudi staff?

In addition, Israelis are barred from working in Saudi Arabia and this is often interpreted to cover all Jews – according to a report in The Washington Post after airlines experienced trouble:

“Many believe the strict Islamic nation routinely denies visas to people it believes are Jewish. The Saudi visa application asks you to state your religion.”

Of course any gay member of staff would risk death by execution if they tried to invoke any of Lush’s equal opportunities policies.

What’s more, Saudi Arabia is notoriously hostile to “ a multicultural attitude”. The BBC reported that the government aimed to reduce foreigners in the country to less than 20% by 2013, noting that most foreign workers come from the Asian subcontinent, the Philippines and other Arab countries. Many of these people are employed in unskilled jobs traditionally shunned by Saudis. The treatment of these workers is, by all accounts, quite disgraceful.

No, not terribly “equal opportunities” focuses really.

Another supposedly “safe” and “multicultural” country that sticks out on Lush’s list of its international stores is Sri Lanka – a country in which 20,000 citizens were massacred in 2009 when the government decided to eradicate Tamil separatists. Ethnic discrimination is reportedly rife.

So why is Lush attacking Israel – a country that actually outlaws job discrimination – on the basis of a gross distortion of the situation while working happily in other countries which actually do squarely fit their dishonest characterisation of Israel?

Lies about Jews? Check! Subjecting Jews to double standards? Check!

Let’s face it: the new antisemitism is not much different to the old antisemitism.