Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nivea Omits Israel from its List of Middle Eastern Countries - Then Changes its Mind

As of the date of this post, August 4, 2011. There is a strange omission on the international page of Nivea, the German skin care products company. Under the list of Middle Eastern countries there is Iran, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories, but no Israel

I started writing this post to help call attention to the startling omission of Israel from the list of countries on it's international page. Before I finished the first paragraph however, the company changed the page; The Israel Hebrew page was added to the list.Nivea international Page before and after the change.

What was behind this bizarre turn of events? I think it is apparent that the company's restoration of the page is due to public outcry; but what sparked the  omission in the first place.

Was it consciousness over alleged human rights violations? Maybe, but if so their standards are pretty inconsistent. Some of the countries on their list are:

  1. Iran
  2. Syria
  3. Libya
  4. Uganda
  5. Russia
  6. China

And speaking of China...

Is it possible that Nivea wanted to avoid involvement in a sovereignty dispute?

If you check the list, Occupied Tibet isn't there; nor is Taiwan. Also absent is Kosovo, which claims its own sovereignty, but is claimed by Serbia; if you were wondering, Serbia is on the list.

So, human rights consciousness as a rational explanation  is out. What is next?

Did they omit Israel because very few people in the world speak Hebrew?

As languages go, Modern Israeli Hebrew ranks somewhere in the low forties in terms of number of native speakers (about 5M); and Israel with a relatively small population (7M) is the only country where MIH is spoken. Even in Israel, they face strong competition from Ahava, an Israeli based company.
Also, of the thirty some-odd languages listed on the page, only two of them (Norwegian and Lithuanian) rank below MIH; and both of those are in Europe where Nivea's reach is the strongest.
Also, countries like Pakistan, Algeria,
One could easily argue that it was merely a business decision; that it wasn't profitable to spend advertising dollars on an Israeli market with low sales potential.
So, why is this argument wrong? Well, Nivea has a page in MIH. The link was merely removed.

Also, all of the pages for the Arabic countries link to a central page for the Middle East. It begs the question: why were "The Palestinian Territories" listed?  If all the links point to the same page, what's the point of including a country that technically doesn't exist?  Also, why are recognized countries such as Mauritania and Algeria not included in the list?

So, the question must be asked. Is Anti-Semitism to blame?

Let's look at history. Nivea creme was conceived as a product of the German company Beiersdorf in the early 20th century. In the early 1930's during the rise of the Nazis, the Jewish board members were forced to resign. This doesn't prove anti-Semitism, but it does allow the notion of anti-Jewish prejudice into the argument.

Proving anti-Semitism is especially difficult, but its hard to ignore,with the lack of any alternative explanations.

Or maybe it was just a simple clerical error...

Well, I don't know about you, but I am not satisfied with Nivea's quick fix. They need to offer a reasonable explanation or make positive ammends. Until then, I won't be using any of their products and neither should you.

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