Tag Archives: ahava

The blood of Israelis and Palestinians will be on the hands of our politicians.

Cross-posted at CiFWatch.

With the British Parliament due to take up six hours of precious debating time on Monday over whether to recognise a “state of Palestine” Vincent Fean’s article in The Guardian sums of the ignorance of those who will vote for such recognition.

Fean uses Sweden, which recently recognised “Palestine”, as a precedent for Monday’s vote. But as Amotz Asa-El points out in the Jerusalem Post this move says more about Sweden than anything else. Asa-El writes of the Swedish government’s social and economic failures:

“Unable to affect the domestic scene, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven fled to a foreign affair where talk is cheap and responsibility is everyone else’s except his.”

And so with British politicians. With May’s general election starting to loom large on the horizon and UKIP continuing to take votes off all the main parties (they have just won their first ever Member of Parliament) many of our Parliamentarians would rather flee to a foreign issue which is certain to win them votes due to the vehemence of many voters where Israel is concerned.

Fean thinks the debate, and subsequent vote, is important because we, Britain, have a “bigger share of responsibility than all the 135 (countries that already recognise “Palestine”) put together.” But do we really?

Britain operated the Mandate which ended in a 1947 UN vote to partition the land, a vote which was rejected by all Arab leaders. Britain’s responsibility ended then.

Fean also obliges the Israel-haters with the usual “The illegality of settlements, the separation barrier, and the demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank is incontestable.” Really? Incontestable? Who said? A court? An international court, maybe? Of course not! There has never been such a decision.

The ICJ’s Advisory Opinion on such “illegality” is just that, an Advisory Opinion. It wasn’t a proper court case.

In fact the only case I know that relates directly to the issue of “illegality” is the recent British Supreme Court case Richardson and another v DPP in which, because it could not be proved that Israeli-owned Ahava’s London shop was selling illegal products, those who occupied the shop forcing it to close down for some three hours were found guilty of aggravated trespass. Therefore, Ahava’s factory on the West Bank is, in fact, legal.

As for home demolitions once again they turn on the legalities of each individual case. Illegal Jewish homes are also demolished.

Perhaps the most risible part of Fean’s article is this:

“The United States should guarantee the safety of both peoples with US or Nato troops during the full, phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestine, endorsed in a unanimous security council resolution.”

Really? Fean must have not been near a radio or television for the last three years and so not seen what Assad and Islamic State have been doing to their own people while the US, UN and NATO all watched on. Never again? Don’t believe it.

If Monday’s debate ends with a vote in favour of recognising the “state of Palestine” there will be no change on the ground. Israel won’t suddenly give up its security requirements because of our Parliament. That would be suicide.

The recognition will only ratchet up the expectation of the Palestinians and lead to more bloodshed and violence on both sides. This blood will be on the hands of the likes of Fean and our politicians who vote in favour on Monday.

Our politicians should get back to representing their own constituents instead of desperately trying to buy votes by fleeing to foreign fields.

American Professor tells British audience “Israel is heading into an abyss.”

I only made it to the last 25 minutes of Joel Beinin’s talk at SOAS last night but, sadly, I still have enough material to write a blog about it.

Beinin’s talk, The New Internationalism, High-Risk Activism, and Popular Struggle against the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank, was chaired by Gilbert Achcar, who once publicly accused me of leaving insulting messages on his answering machine.

Meanwhile, Beinin is Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard of him but Wikipedia has a surprisingly large page about him. According to the description he was “raised as a Zionist” and at one stage intended to make aliyah but having encountered some racist attitudes on a Kibbutz he returned to America instead.

Beinin has published a lot also. I only read one article of his when I got back last night but if I say that the article trashes Peter Beinart’s call for Israeli Jews living on the West Bank to be boycotted because this doesn’t go far enough you get the gist of Beinin’s politics.

In this article Beinin also denounces those who condone “indecent trivialisation of the Holocaust” when they compare levels of anti-Semitism today to those of the late 1930s. (That said, if anyone can explain the difference between boycotting Jewish-owned shops in the late 1930s and boycotting Jewish-owned shops, like Covent Garden’s Ahava and Brighton’s Ecostream, today then please let me know.)

But, hey, guess who is the real master of “indecent trivialisation of the Holocaust”? None other than Joel Beinin himself!

You see, last night, Beinin started discussing Israel’s Prawer Commission Plan to move the Negev’s Bedouin population into far better equipped towns in return for compensation. Beinin described this as “putting them into what would effectively be concentration camps.” (see here from 2 mins. 25 secs.)

Oh, really? So would that be concentration camps like Auschwitz or Treblinka, possibly?

But, of course, Beinin doesn’t indecently trivialise the Holocaust, remember.

Towards the end of the event Beinin said there was a “rightward drift of Israeli society”, “a degradation of whatever there ever was of the democratic process” and “Israel itself, besides the occupation, is heading into an abyss and it’s not clear at all what might stop that.” (see here from 30 secs.)

Abyss means an “An immeasurably deep chasm, depth, or void”. Alternatively, it means “The abode of evil spirits; hell.”

And all this because Beinin once encountered some racists on a Kibbutz?

SOAS Update.

Thank you very much for all the support I received in light of last Monday’s Palestine Society event at SOAS when I was manhandled and told I was a “typical Israeli”, eventhough I am a proud Brit.

I received incredible emails from all over the world with people appreciating my attempts to cover anti-Israel meetings in London and appalled by my treatment.

I received emails from those who completely disagree with my views on Israel, but were still appalled by the way I was dealt with.

And thank you for the Arabic translations too.

I never got to the bottom of why I was called a “typical Israeli”. Only that student knows what was in his mind.

I had a very constructive chat with SOAS who said they had been inundated with emails from both sides but who wanted to continue to welcome me to SOAS and they said they will be reviewing their filming policy.

Much has been made of my not applying for consent to film, but when I was thudded in the shoulder from behind and shouted at to stop filming I wasn’t asked whether I had been granted such permission by SOAS. As it happens I didn’t know there was a filming policy as it has never been mentioned at any SOAS event I have attended (and I have attended a fair few).

There was also at least one other person filming who, it seems, didn’t have the required permission either. Meanwhile, I always see students filming on their IPhones.

And, unless I nodded off temporarily, none of the required announcements in accordance with the filming policy were made at the start of last Monday’s meeting by the organisers themselves!

I believe that in a public space such as a university freedom of speech is commensurate with a right to cover that freedom of speech without fear or hindrance. No one should be disallowed from filming solely because of their political views.

I was targeted last Monday night because of my political views. No one else filming would have been roughed up like that. And I have never disrupted an event, despite what is being put about by my detractors.

Sadly, SOAS students, it seems, have received a highly defamatory and incendiary statement from the SOAS Student Union on behalf of the Palestine Society, which has potential repercussions for my personal safety at SOAS and which was sent to me by a concerned SOAS student. One of the paragraphs states of me:

“By now, we are well aware of his intentions. He first provokes, intimidates and insults (including racially) speakers, organisers or members of the audience and violates generally accepted conventions of public meetings.”

This is reminiscent of another SOAS talk I attended on 16th April about Israel’s Arab minority where I wasn’t even filming. At the talk I was verbally insulted by Gilbert Achcar, a SOAS lecturer, who, after I had asked a perfectly reasonable question during the Q&A, told the room that I was a “professional disruptor”, that had he known I was coming he would have barred me from attending and that I had left insulting remarks on his answering machine. He then told me to get out.

Of course I didn’t leave messages on his machine. I wouldn’t even dream of it.

Aggressive targeting of those supportive of Israel is not confined to university campuses. At the beginning of the year I was put through a torrid few months when Peter Scott and Salim Alam of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign tried to have me prosecuted for harassment because of some videos and photos I posted of them demonstrating against Veolia outside the Natural History Museum in December.

I was at a reasonable distance while filming their political activism but I ended up being called into Notting Hill Police Station to be questioned about my filming and what I had written on my blog. Scott and Alam seemed to have failed to tell the police that I and others are constantly filmed and photographed for their anti-Israel blog.

To my relief the police eventually decided against any further action, but had it come to court the following footage might have made interesting viewing. It shows Salim Alam outside the now defunct Ahava shop in Covent Garden getting up close and personal to the camera of Roy from Campaign4Truth who was filming legally but still, as you can see, gets his camera whacked by one of Alam’s colleagues:

Daniel Machover’s dangerous game of Lawfare against Veolia and Israel.

Zena from "Palestine", Daniel Machover, Yael Kahn listening to an activist at ULU last night.

Zena from “Palestine”, Daniel Machover, Yael Kahn listening to an activist at ULU last night.

First, the drama bit.

I was sitting quietly before the start of last night’s Excluding Complicity with Israeli War Crimes meeting at University of London Union (ULU) when I was approached by the Israeli anti-Israel activist Yael Kahn. Kahn wanted me to leave saying:

“We don’t want you. You’ve been undermining people’s meetings. You interfere with people’s freedom of speech. We don’t want you here. Goodbye to you. We don’t want you. You are here for one purpose; to interrupt and to undermine people. I’ve seen you many times. I’ve seen you in action many times. You’re not invited.”     Listen here: Yael Kahn asking me to leave.

Once I told her that I wasn’t leaving as it was a public meeting and that she should have arranged the meeting in her home she shuffled off to chair the event instead.

It’s incredible that these Israel haters are supplied with a room paid for by the British taxpayer at a British university and presume they can exclude anyone they don’t like (the advert states the meeting was “sponsored by ULU”).

The main speaker was Daniel Machover, described as “Solicitor, the UK expert on Human Rights, Israel and Veolia”. Jeremy Corbyn MP was also supposed to speak but failed to show up.

Machover presented his lengthy legal opinion on how to exclude Veolia from the public contracts given out by local authorities. Veolia deals in waste management and construction and has been building the Jerusalem Light Railway, which, Machover says, is in breach of the Geneva Convention and UN resolutions because it serves “illegal Israeli settlements”.

The main UN resolution Machover relied on was that passed by the UN Human Rights Council in April 2011 and called The grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (see clip 1 below).

At that time countries on the UNHRC included Libya, Bahrain, Ukraine, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Qatar. All have brutal human rights records so for Machover to cite such a resolution proves the weakness of his case.

Machover also seems to be adopting the similar failed tactic of Michael Mansfield QC. At an event at Amnesty International in November 2010 Mansfield gave a legal opinion on the defence anti-Israel activists could employ if they entered the shops or offices of companies doing business in the “illegal Israeli settlements” and were arrested.

With such advice in mind anti-Israel activists Matthew Richardson, Gwendolen Wilkinson, Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond entered the Ahava shop in Covent Garden and succeeded in shutting it down for a few hours while making their protest but they were subsequently landed with criminal convictions for aggravated trespass.

Happily though for Mr Mansfield his chambers picked up the business as the four defendants were represented by barristers from Tooks.

Similarly, Machover seems to be pushing local councillors to exclude Veolia from local authority business but for all his lengthy quoting of local council law to support his view he still has to overcome the same hurdle that the four convicted anti-Ahava activists failed to do; the legality of “the settlements”.

Machover said last night:

“Let me make it clear. Settlements that are built in east Jerusalem or the rest of the West Bank are illegal under international law. There is absolutely universal consensus about that. The British government says so, the American government says so…this is entirely uncontentious territory.”

Apart from the fact that the American government doesn’t “say so” how would Machover explain the decision of the judge in the Ahava case outlined above that Ahava, with its factory on the West Bank, was “trading lawfully”?

Machover’s advice could have extreme financial consequences for local councillors who incorrectly exclude Veolia from a public contract, as Machover himself acknowledged. The local councillors could leave themselves open to being personally surcharged millions of pounds for any loss to Veolia like Dame Shirley Porter was in the 1990s “homes for votes” scandal.

Councillors could be made bankrupt, but Machover couldn’t resist encouraging them anyway last night with this:

“It’s very problematic. It’s very expensive litigation that Veolia could mount. Obviously they’re a very significant company with much more resources than most local authorities. But if they’re prepared to stand up to other bodies…they should be prepared to stand up to a big bully like Veolia. I understand their fears because they don’t want to use council taxpayers’ money on a bad legal case. But, I repeat, I don’t think it is a bad case. So local authorities who have the courage of their convictions should proceed. And I genuinely think that it’s not straightforward as to whether Veolia would actually take it to court.” (see clip 2)

Yael Khan then tried soothing everyone’s nerves by claiming that there had been, apparently, no challenge by Veolia after it lost a £1bn contract in South London, although I doubt that loss had anything whatsoever to do with her and her colleagues.

It’s possible that Veolia, itself, would not have to sue. A concerned resident could possibly have locus standi to instigate proceedings to have councillors surcharged.

Finally, we heard from Zena who had just arrived from “Palestine” that morning. She told us how evil “the settlers” are and how their actions are having a detrimental effect on the health of the Palestinians. (see clip 3)

Just like other Palestinians who have come over here and made the same claim they all look very well to me. Maybe they’re just the lucky ones….

Clips and photos:

The welcoming party on the door at University of London Union last night.

The welcoming party on the door at University of London Union last night.

Clip 1 – Machover outlines his weak case against Veolia:

Clip 2 – Machover encourages councillors over Veolia despite major concerns:

Clip 3 – Palestinian Zena’s view on “settlers”:

Clip 4 – Conclusions of Zena and Machover. Zena calls for boycott:

Clip 5 – Jewish Anti-Zionist Network activist calls for boycott of Hewlett Packard:

A Canterbury activist from anti-Israel Conservative MP Julian Brazier's constituency.

A Canterbury activist from anti-Israel Conservative MP Julian Brazier’s constituency.

IPO disruptor Jonathan Rosenhead: “Israel National Theatre at The Globe is next target.”

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead: Next target is Habima at the Globe in May.

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead: Next target is Habima at the Globe in May.

LSE Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), who helped to disrupt the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 1st September 2011, has said that the performance by the National Theatre of Israel (or Habima) of The Merchant of Venice at the Globe Theatre on 28th and 29th May will be the next target for anti-Israel activists.

He said that they had purchased 45 tickets (see from 4 mins. 7 secs. in following clip) for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s disrupted concert and he boasted about the BBC taking the concert off air.

He was speaking on Friday at King’s College London about the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. KCL is one of the organisations conducting research with Ahava through an EU-funded project called Nanoretox and activists are, once again, claiming, without any substantiation, that Ahava is based on an illegal settlement.

Last April four activists were found guilty of aggravated trespass for their efforts in disrupting business at the Ahava store in Covent Garden. District Judge Ian Baker found that Ahava was “trading lawfully” and gave Gwendolen Wilkinson, Matthew Richardson, Jessica Nero and Christoper Osmond 18 month conditional discharges and ordered them to pay £250 costs each.

When questioned further Rosenhead admitted to being one of the disruptors of the IPO and he welcomed any prosecution that might follow seeing it as an opportunity to publicise their cause.

But he threatened that Habima will be next:

“They have made themselves a target, and they will be one. Various things are afoot to try and make sure, to pressure The Globe in the first instance, because if The Globe withdraws the invitation then that’s no problem.”(see clip from 6 mins 25 secs.):

I had initially gone to KCL to hear Omar Barghouti speak. Barghouti is a member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) and holds degrees from Columbia University and…..Tel Aviv University.

He compares himself to Nelson Mandela who, he says, studied in an apartheid South Africa university, when he was asked how can can claim to be part of a boycott movement while having studied in the country, Israel, he is supposed to be boycotting!

The parallel with Mandela fails on every level, but specifically because Barghouti is neither Israeli nor Palestinian having been born in Qatar and having grown up in Egypt, whereas Mandela is South African!

I was hoping to show footage of Barghouti making the usual racist comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Afica (the man really knows how to demean peoples’ past sufferings), but, once again, I was stopped from filming under threat of being removed by security.

I should have a right to film a public meeting, especially where there is racist rhetoric and where others are filming. Barghouti ordered that I stop filming as did the Chair of the event, Maha Rezeq. But both have no connections to KCL! Rezeq called my filming “unethical” on the basis that the footage will be available online.

But their’s will be edited, cleaned up footage. Barghouti compared the boycott of Israel to the boycott of Nazi Germany and compared Israeli Arabs who don’t boycott Israel (for example, those who might stay in Israeli hotels or use Israeli airlines) as being equivalent to Kapos. He called El Al a racist airline:

“The most important aspect that Palestinian citizens of Israel are involved in in terms of the BDS campaign is not to allow themselves or their institutions to be used as figleaves. Quite often Israel uses some Uncle Toms and (Aunt) Jemimas, whatever you want to call them, which exist in every society. I mean in every society you have people who wish to profit from self-interest rather than principle. It’s not a Palestinian phenomenon, it’s an international phenomenon. Some Jewish victims during the Holocaust were serving the Nazi victimisers. So in every sociey you get a small minority that betrays their own”.

In the clip below Rosenhead said he withdrew his consent for me to film him. I only stopped filming when Mehdi Beyati, a student at KCL, got up to call security. Beyati’s behaviour would be expected in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Gaza, but isn’t becoming in a British University:

Here Beyati reads and analyses KCL’s response to the call to stop KCL collaborating with Ahava:

Bar Standards Board clears Michael Mansfield QC of professional misconduct over anti-Israel speech.

Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond lying on floor inside Ahava on November 22nd 2010 shortly after Michael Mansfield's speech at Amnesty.

Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond lying on floor inside Ahava on November 22nd 2010 shortly after Michael Mansfield's speech at Amnesty.

Last night I went to Tooks Chambers for a Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers talk given by Antonia Mulvey, the Senior Justice Expert for the Norwegian Refugee Council based in New York, on Palestinian housing issues in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (specifically Area C).

This was not long after a complaint for professional misconduct against Michael Mansfield QC, one of the senior barristers at Tooks, had been dismissed by the Bar Standards Board.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine had held an anti-Israel hatefest at the Law Society on the weekend of 20th and 21st November 2010. RTOP is a Kangaroo Court where anti-Israel activists get together to make up international law with which to condemn Israel.

It’s a bit like playing doctors and nurses, but as lawyers.

They even have a “jury” and on 22nd November 2010 Michael Mansfield QC, as head juror, pronounced all the firms “on trial” guilty of complicity in Israel’s “breaches of international law”. This “judgement” was given at Amnesty International.

At the end of Mansfield’s “verdict” the following exchange occurred in response to a question on the legalities of civil disobedience. Mansfield was possibly encouraging the law to be broken, especially in light of what immediately took place at the Ahava shop in Covent Garden. The following transcript formed the basis of the complaint to the BSB (listen to audio at end of post):

Questioner:

“I just wanted to ask, do you think the findings have any ramifications on those engaging in civil disobedience as a means to highlight corporate complicity and promote the BDS campaign?” 

Mansfield:

“Yes, I can answer that one directly. The answer is yes.

In fact we heard from a lawyer who has been involved in two actions where there were criminal prosecutions. He represented those who had actively protested in relation to two different companies; one in Northern Ireland and one not.

And the position is very important and it stems again, not only from the advisory opinion, but it is there in the advisory opinion. Because what the advisory opinion is saying to governments and everyone; we all have an obligation to bring the wall and the settlements to an end, which means that those who wish to, as it were, actively protest in relation to that here, in this country or in Northern Ireland, wish to protest about that, are entitled if and when, they are not always prosecuted, if the prosecuting authority decides that they are, for criminal damage or whatever it happens to be, they are going to prosecute the individuals who entered offices or whatever it is, then the individuals who are prosecuted have a, a defence, sometimes called “necessity”, in which they are saying “there is a greater good”.

Yes, there is damage, but the damage was done as of “necessity” to prevent a greater evil being caused. So, actually…if people, come and tell us that is exactly what is being (unclear), and jurors, that’s the interesting thing, courts in the United Kingdom, juries, ordinary people in the United Kingdom, the democratic aspect of our system, are saying “we find you not guilty because of the greater good”.

So it’s extremely important that it’s a two-pronged thing: One is proactive, in other words actually going to companies and corporations, the other is reactive, if we get accused then we have a perfectly legitimate defence.

And may I just add a foot-note on this. I know time is restricted, what we are equally horrified to note is that the Israeli government is currently considering making protests and objections along these lines a criminal offence. So therefore this is, as I see it, a totally appropriate situation in as much as you are not going to be easily allowed to stick up against it.

Can I just add as a footnote – there is a protest, a perfectly lawful legitimate nonviolent protest, going on in London now, today, in relation to a company, Ahava, that you may have heard of, that produces goods that are mislabelled for a start off, but in any event are exploiting natural resources in Israel/Palestine and it is essentially complicit, we will be dealing with it in the full report, complicit in the illegality that people have already talked about. I don’t know exactly where it is happening in London, but it is happening now.”

A Woman:

“Monmouth Street, Covent Garden.”

Mansfield:

“Thank you very much….Dead Sea Products, yes….How are we doing on time….fine, any more questions?” 

So, at the very least, Mansfield seems to admit to knowledge of events at Ahava where Jessica Nero and Christopher Osmond entered the store either during or soon after his speech and were eventually arrested. On 21st April 2011 both Nero and Osmond were convicted of aggravated trespass, given 18 month conditional discharges and ordered to pay £250 costs each.

And guess who represented Nero and Osmond at their trial? James Mehigan, a barrister at Tooks!

The BSB dismissed the complaint for professional misconduct against Mansfield in a letter from Natalya Browning, an assessment officer, on the following grounds (Browning’s response is edited for brevity):

1. Mr Mansfield QC incited the crime of aggravated trespass:

The BSB does not have the power to consider allegations of criminal conduct. If you consider that Mr Mansfield QC is guilty of a criminal offence, you should refer the matter to the police in the first instance. I would also point out that Mr Mansfield’s comments were made in his personal capacity and not in connection with the provision of a legal service.

2. Mr Mansfield QC profited from inciting a crime, by representing two defendants who had committed the crime, possibly with the use of public money in the form of legal aid:

Mr Mansfield QC would not have been paid a share of the fees earned by Mr Mehigan. I can see no evidence on the information before me to suggest that Mr Mansfield QC profited from Mr Mehigan’s representation of the defendants and, as explained above, we cannot consider whether or not Mr Mansfield has incited or encouraged a crime.

Sadly, the police should have been informed within six months of Mansfield’s speech, incitement being a summary-only offence.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusions, but please be careful if leaving a comment below the line. I don’t want to be sued.

As for last night’s Haldane Society talk, Antonia Mulvey spent an hour propagandising about alleged illegal evictions of Palestinian “women and children” and the route of Israel’s Security Wall. The case studies she mentioned are still being challenged through the Israeli court system.

She claimed that a Palestinian family had been fined for nuisance for sitting outside their old home having been recently evicted from it and that Palestinians must pay for the demolition of their homes and for removal of the rubble, which they can’t afford along with the huge fines for not having a valid building permit.

Sat among the audience, some of whom were calling for boycotts of Israel and for Israel to adhere to Jewish values as set out in the Torah (ex-Labour MP Martin Linton even accused Israel of “ethnic engineering” the Palestinians in east Jerusalem), I mentioned that many of the case studies given by Mulvey were no different to property disputes common in Britain.

I also pointed out that the backdrop of Palestinian terrorists constantly attempting to murder Israelis might mean that Palestinians were inconvenienced by the route of the security wall. I asked whether she preferred the inconvenience or more Israelis, like three-month old Hadas Fogel who was decapitated in her bed by a Palestinian, being murdered.

For her answer she relied on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice 2004 on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall. Mulvey said that the opinion (which, being only an “advisory opinion”, is not binding) criticised the building of the wall inside the green line.

So one might infer that Mulvey has no qualms about the beheading of Hadas Fogel; it being preferable for the security wall to be moved to the green line so exposing even more Israelis to Hadas Fogel and her family’s tragic fate.

Audio of Mansfield at Amnesty (22nd Nov. 2010)

(Thanks to Sharon and Leslie for their cooperation)

PSC comes to North-West London to try to “dump Veolia”.

Salim Alam, Michael Deas, Chair, Simon Natas last night.

Salim Alam, Michael Deas, Chair, Simon Natas last night.

It was good to catch up with some old faces when I turned up for Brent PSC’s “Dump Veolia” meeting at Willesden library last night.

I was sat behind my old friend Abe Hayeem, of Architects for Palestinians, who I once sat down next to at an event when that was the only vacant chair left in the room and he promptly got up as if I was carrying the plague.

Last night he again showed his love when he noticed I was filming and asked that I be told to desist from such democratic behaviour, but luckily, the fairly nice Chair agreed that no harm was being done and allowed me to continue filming, although not before someone else from the audience shouted for me to have my camera confiscated. Here’s the clip:

I missed Michael Deas, Europe Coordinator of the
BDS National Committee, talk but I heard Simon Natas, a London solicitor, give his pick’n’mix interpretation of internation law (see clip below) in which he concluded that “the occupation is seen as being illegal under just about every tenet of international law” before going on to cite the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions “ordering Israel to vacate the OPT” and the 2004 ICJ ruling as evidence.

This, he suggested, would affect Veolia, especially as it is building the Jerusalem Light Railway which, he argued, will be transferring people into the “illegal territories”.

That might be Natas’ opinion, but it can also be argued that “the occupation” is not illegal. The ICJ ruling is non-binding, there are no binding Security Council resolutions that call for Israel to vacate any territory unilaterally and as the UN Charter technically incorporates the Balfour Declaration via the League of Nations’ incorporation of the British Mandate it can, therefore, be argued that Jews can live on the West Bank.

There was also this April’s ruling by a judge in the Ahava trial, where four anti-Israel activists were found guilty of aggravated trespass, that Ahava was “trading lawfully” at the time it was invaded by those activists.

I’d go with the objective judgement of District Judge Ian Baker every time over the judgement of the ever so slightly biased Simon Natas in this matter with his membership of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

As ever Hamas and its “let’s kill all the Jews” Charter were not mentioned once throughout his speech, so presumably Hamas is not in breach of international law and so should just be allowed to continue on their killing spree if Israel is ever forced by Natas’ version of international law to take down the Security Wall.

Next up was Salim Alam who I have written about on various occasions but without knowing his name, so it was good to, finally, hear him introduced last night. He spends large portions of his spare time hanging around outside supermarkets that stock Israeli produce. That’s when he is not speaking at meetings against Israel.

Alam got himself arrested outside Ahava last December when he threatened to knock my camera out of my hand while I was actually filming him. He was released without charge.

Last night Alam spoke (see clip below) about how the London boroughs of Ealing, Harrow, Brent, Richmond, Hillingdon and Hounslow have formed the West London Waste Authority which is inviting tenders from companies to dispose of their residual waste, which is waste left over after recycling. It is business worth £485m, but a letter has gone to the Authority signed by 576 people against Veolia being the successful bidder

From what I could guage there have already been some successes against Veolia and Eden Springs. Last night they claimed to have had Eden Springs water stopped from being used in certain offices and universities in the UK and Veolia also seems not to have won contracts with certain councils, although whether the latter was due to pressure on those councils after anti-Israel campaigns is unclear.

There was also mention of Israel’s diamond industry. While admitting that Israel only cuts and polishes diamonds, but doesn’t mine them, making it difficult for Israel to be caught by the Kimberley Process Natas argued that a case could be made against Lev Leviev who, according to Natas, invests the proceeds of his diamond polishing company in the settlements.

It was mentioned that the strategy of shaming celebrities who are caught wearing Lev Leviev diamonds should continue.

It’s funny how people speak of the “Zionist lobby”, because there are many lessons that could be learnt from the well-financed and strongly motivated anti-Zionist lobby.

Clip of Natas:

Clip of Alam:

Last night’s posters: