Tag Archives: covent garden

Ahava: My 5 favourite moments.

Ahava’s last day of trading in London’s Covent Garden is tomorrow (Tuesday).

It has suffered two years of racist, abusive and, at times, violent protests while Camden Council and our politicians looked away.

Not once did a politician of any rank stand up for Ahava’s right to trade or come to join the pro-Ahava counter-protest.

It is shameful that a shop that was trading 100% lawfully was forced to shut like this. It’s a stain on Britain’s democratic credentials.

Ahava’s all female staff were repeatedly bullied, not knowing whether they would arrive at work to find the locks glued, the shop front daubed in red paint or whether anti-Israel activists would invade the shop with heavy concrete blocks to lock themselves onto so making their removal from the shop virtually impossible.

After each invasion Ahava was forced to close for up to three hours, harming business and the ability of the staff to earn commission.

Israel’s flag was continuously denigrated outside Ahava by the anti-Israel activists. The most popular ways were cutting out the Star of David or replacing it with the word “apartheid”.

Three trials in all took place involving eight defendants. The first trial involving four anti-Israel activists collapsed when Ahava failed to show up, which was a great shame especially in light of the second, combined trial, involving another four activists which led to four convictions for aggravated trespass.

The defendants received conditional discharges of 18 months which means that should Gwendolen Wilkinson, Matthew Richardson, Jessica Nero or Christopher Osmond transgress again within that time then they could well end up detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Court costs of £250 were awarded against each defendant with one defendant pleading poverty to the extent that he claimed he had to wade through supermarket bins for food. The hard life of anti-Israel activists these days and I thought they were mainly well-soaked Champagne Socialists!

Incidentally, the Judge declared that Ahava was “trading lawfully”.

The good news is that Ahava will reopen somewhere else and along the way many good friends have been made and an unofficial group of intelligent, hardworking, passionate activists with a variety of skills has bonded which bodes well for the future in fighting the rising tide of Israel-hate/anti-Semitism in Britain.

So, here are Ahava’s best bits. Please vote for your favourite clip at the end.

Whichever clip wins it might be worth awarding a special gift to the pro or anti-Israel activists involved; maybe a spa day at the new Ahava shop when it opens.

(If you have problems viewing try to switch to another internet browser)

1. ARE YOU FROM MOSSAD?

Introducing Seymour Alexander, the chief photographer of the anti-Israel movement. He slinks around silently with his camera, but occasionally pops up to ask: “Are you from the Mossad?”

2. THE PRE-CHRISTMAS ARREST

This was hilarious. They were trying to harm Ahava’s pre-Christmas trade and this activist thought I was just taking photos, not filming. So when he threatened to knock my camera out of my hand the police arrested him on the basis of this footage and took him to the police station to interview him while I went off to see Oliver in the West End. I understand he was later released without charge, but still must have had a bit of a shock.

3. THE SINGING ISRAELI TOURISTS

This was brilliant. A group of Israeli tourists accidently stumbled upon the anti-Israel protest outside Ahava and for twenty minutes passionately belted out a medley of Israeli songs drowning out the chants of the stunned anti-Israel activists.

4. MARTYRMAN

This guy is determined to be arrested for the cause and enjoys nothing more than being dramatically dragged away by the police. At a recent “Nakba Day” protest he was photographed being hauled away in a similar fashion (see photo).

and

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Martyrman

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Martyrman

5. SWORDSWOMAN

The Respect Party’s Carol Swords enjoys nothing more than telling a Jew to go back to Russia (which she did outside Ahava recently) and she is currently awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting a pro-Israel activist. Read more about her here.

In this clip you will see her demanding that I don’t take her photo. It’s a bit surprising as she isn’t usually that camera-shy, especially when it comes to photos with the Jew-killers of Hamas (see photo).

Good luck at your trial, Carol!

Swords with Hamas' Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Zahar (hurryupharry.org)

Swords with Hamas' Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Zahar (hurryupharry.org)

Swords having a laugh with Hamas (hurryupharry.org)

Swords having a laugh with Hamas (hurryupharry.org)

Now vote for your favourite clip:

The Siege of Ahava Continues.

The Siege of Ahava.

The Siege of Ahava.

Considering that Ahava is due to close at the end of September, due to the relentless bullying by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, there was no let up in the verbal attacks on Israel as about 15 activists harangued shoppers going in and out of the shop in London’s Covent Garden today.

Even PSC Chief Sarah Colborne made a rare appearance to rally her devoted followers. Maybe next time she will bring along her new best friend Sheikh Raed Salah, who has just been let out of prison on bail after having been arrested for entering Britain despite being on an exclusion list.

As soon as I arrived I, myself, was mindlessly haranged as you can see in these next two clips.

The first clip shows a PSC activist standing in front of me literaly flashing away (warning: flash photography) and in the next clip I am surrounded by three people filming me while the police are called because I was, apparently, the one doing the intimidating! (warning: flash photography also)

But (it gets better) in this next clip PSC activists are complaining to the police that I am filming them without authority. The clip is comedic. Off camera I was told I was a “Murdoch journalist”.

In the next clip we hear the old familiar song “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” for those who think that this is just about “the settlements”.

Even the literature handed out by the activists, which is printed by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, reads “Don’t buy Ahava products, Israeli or Settlement Goods”.

Proof, if any were needed, that this is a racist boycott of a country, not a political one about “settlements”.

The next clip shows PSC Chief Sarah Colborne singing her little heart out and the final clip shows how loud and intimidating the anti-Israel activists are when outside Ahava.

There were three people (myself, Jonathan Hoffman and Martin) making the case for Israel but soon there will, hopefully, be news of where and when Ahava is due to re-open. Maybe all is not yet lost for Ahava.

Photos:

Martin making the case for Israel today.

Martin making the case for Israel today.

Some pro-Israel resistance.

Some pro-Israel resistance.

PSC activist reporting yours truly to the police for "intimidation".

PSC activist reporting yours truly to the police for "intimidation".

PSC chief Colborne (in green) rallies her troops.

PSC chief Colborne (in green) rallies her troops.

Anti-Semitic protests finally force Ahava to close in Covent Garden.

Bloodied but unbowed: Ahava after a recent attack.

Bloodied but unbowed: Ahava after a recent attack.

What a shame that Ahava’s landlords have finally succumbed to pressure from Ahava’s neighbours not to extend Ahava’s lease due to the regular noisy protests in the vicinity of Ahava.

And for anyone in doubt as to the true nature of the anti-Ahava protests one only has to glance at the website that promotes them to find rhetoric and images that equate the plight of the Palestinians with the plight of the Jews under the Nazis.

If anyone really think that these protests are simply about Israel’s so-called occupation and Ahava’s production plant being located on the “West Bank”, then they are seriously deluded.

For example, the said website reads:

“John played a very appropriate tune on his saxophone, sung in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and later made famous by Paul Robeson, a voice for the oppressed, who can be heard singing the song here. Images of Nazi Germany in the video are similar to what Palestinians are experiencing today under Israeli occupation. Here’s a link to a comparison of some very graphic images of Nazi Germany and Palestine and I’m certain that you’ll find the similarities striking.”

And the protests call for a boycott of Israel, not just Ahava (see end photo).

The reason that the lease was not extended has nothing to do with the landlord disagreeing with Israeli policy, but all to do with the noisy anti-Ahava protests, which some of Ahava’s neighbours ran to the landlord, like squealing little schoolboys, to complain about.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Colin George of The Loft, which is next door to Ahava, commented:

“I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. I’ve complained to the landlords, as has everyone here. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.”

That last comment does not ring at all true. The anti-Ahava protests have been taking place for around about 15 or 16 months at the most and relations between the shops were very friendly before the protests started.

Now, instead of condemning the anti-Israel protests for causing the nuisance, quite incredibly, Mr George has condemned Ahava!

I stand by my comment in the JC:

“Maybe the neighbours could have had a more positive role and spoken to the protesters, rather than take it out on Ahava. It’s sad that this country will allow a lawfully trading shop to be chased out because of the politics of people who disagree with Israel’s basic existence.”

One might disagree with the legality of the “settlements”, but that is just conjecture, opinion and a matter of interpretation. There is no law anywhere that states the “settlements” are illegal.

We could debate their legality and morality until the cows come home (and have a very interesting discussion over it).

Therefore, the protests outside Ahava really come down to one thing; the existence of the Jewish state.

If I am wrong and the protests are simply about Ahava and so-called Israeli oppression of the Palestinians then virtually every shop in London should have a regular protest outside it for breaching some form of morality or law. Sweat shops in China, anyone?

And if the anti-Ahava protests are simply anti-Ahava then surely they have achieved their purpose. They have managed to shut down Ahava and so will not need to take place anymore.

My bet is that the protests will continue. They are more about defaming the Jewish state than anything else, and that says all you need to know about the nature of the beast we are dealing with here; anti-Semitism.

And in this specific instance I am not playing, what some call, “the anti-Semitism card”.

Are these protests really about Ahava?

Are these protests really about Ahava?

Anti-Ahava protesters boycott the Dry Cleaners now.

Yet another freezing day in London’s Covent Garden ended up with some anti-Israel protesters complaining to the police because they didn’t like it that their pen was positioned outside a Dry Cleaners instead of right outside the shop door of Israeli-owned Ahava.

Two weeks ago they complained that they were outside the Italian handbag and shoe shop.

Complaining seemed the way to go today though. I asked one protester why he wasn’t protesting outside the Libyan Embassy, seeing that Colonel Gadaffi was murdering, possibly, thousands of his own people. But the protester just asked a police officer to ask me not to talk to him!

Bruce Levy, their noble leader, for the first time actually turned up wearing a kippah to try to counter the accusations that this is an anti-Jewish boycott.

But Ahava itself was doing well with customers coming and going, although they were met with chants of “Shame on you” from the anti-Israel mob.

The pro-Israel activists did Israel proud. For two freezing hours they waved flags, sang and handed out leaflets to passers-by. And a carload of Welsh activists drove the three hours from north Wales to support Israel. If they can do it so can you.

In the words of Delia Smith…..”Let’s be ‘avin you!”

The pics:

Poor Bruce sets up alone.

Poor Bruce sets up alone.

"I'm the only Jew in the village."

"I'm the only Jew in the village."

Ahava does a roaring trade.

Ahava does a roaring trade.

"Oh no, now it looks like we are boycotting the Dry Cleaners!"

"Oh no, now it looks like we are boycotting the Dry Cleaners!"

"If you look very closely you can just about see Israel on the map."

"If you look very closely you can just about see Israel on the map."

Freedom for Wales!

Freedom for Wales!

Please take a leaflet, someone, anyone.

Please take a leaflet, someone, anyone.

Martin carries the flag for Israel.

Martin carries the flag for Israel.

Auditioning for Les Miserables.

Auditioning for Les Miserables.

Another Jew Against Zionism? You and whose army?

Another Jew Against Zionism? You and whose army?

Ahava inspires love and prayer.

Ahava inspires love and prayer.

Ahava, Camera, Action.

"Why are we boycotting an Italian shoe shop?"

"Why are we boycotting an Italian shoe shop?"

It was freezing outside Ahava in Covent Garden today but, dare I say it, I almost felt sorry for the anti-Zionist mob who come here every other Saturday to leaflet passers-by to boycott the shop.

The problem for the anti-Zionists was that the pro-Israel lot had stolen their usual pen right outside Ahava, so it looked, for all intents and purposes, like they were boycotting the neighbouring Italian shoe shop! Desastre!

The pro-Israel lot were also lifted by the sight of Phillip, who had travelled down from Wales, as usual, for the pro-Israel counter-protest.

As it happens Ahava seemed to be doing a good trade. I saw one guy ask a policeman what the protests were about and when the policeman pointed to Ahava, the guy actually went in to the shop.

This is dangerous when accosted by a beautiful sales-woman on commission but he managed not to succumb and, sadly, came away empty handed. Although, I feel he will be back.

Meanwhile, the anti-Zionists are petitioning for Professional Beauty to withdraw Ahava from their exhibition at Excel on 27 and 28 February so please email:

info@totalbeautyshow.com

and tell them about the lies spread by those that hate Israel.

Oh, and here are some pics. from today:

Proud and undaunted.

Proud and undaunted.

Anti-Zionists setting up.

Anti-Zionists setting up.

More anti-Zionists turn up.

More anti-Zionists turn up.

We just want peace...as long as it involves the end of Israel.

We just want peace...as long as it involves the end of Israel.

Safety in numbers.

Safety in numbers.

Anti-Zionist photographer taking a break from his camera duties.

Anti-Zionist photographer taking a break from his camera duties.

Martin keeps the flag flying.

Martin keeps the flag flying.

Cold but determined.

Cold but determined.

This is not a laughing matter!

This is not a laughing matter!

"I thought we were supposed to be boycotting Ahava."

"I thought we were supposed to be boycotting Ahava."

Where's Ahava gone, where's Ahava gone!

Where's Ahava gone, where's Ahava gone!

Cheer up, you could be living under Hamas.

Cheer up, you could be living under Hamas.

"look, what's wrong with the one state solution?"

"look, what's wrong with the one state solution?"

The good old British bobby keeping me safe.

The good old British bobby keeping me safe.

“They should dig Gilad Shalit up and kill him again”

After the previous Saturday’s attack on Ahava’s Covent Garden store the Metropolitan Police upped their presence to guard against further similar disruption during last Saturday’s anti-Israel protest.

There were about 25 officers.

The anti-Israel activists were there in their usual numbers, about 45, while the pro-Israel counter-demonstators numbered about 15.

Despite being outnumbered it wouldn’t be hard to figure out which side was making the more compelling argument to passers-by.

Police were not letting anyone into the store without prior approval.

As I approached the door two officers menacingly blocked me before looking round at Rita, all of 5 ft tall and alone in the shop, who gave them the nod to allow me in.

I wondered whether the heroic men who attacked the shop the previous Saturday would have done the same if there were two burly male members of staff present in the usually unguarded shop instead of just one or two females.

I doubt it very much being cowards to the core.

Still the leading organising activist told me that such violent action against Ahava will continue until the shop has to shut.

He also went on to tell me that Gilad Shalit, the Israel soldier abducted by Hamas four and a half years ago, should be dug up (assuming he is already dead) and killed again because that is what he deserves. Nice, eh?

That, if anything, is a reminder of the hateful ideology behind this specific protest for those who think that this is just a legitimate protest against Ahava’s presence on the West Bank.

The protest went off smoothly for once, albeit loudly due to Deborah Fink turning up to sing her dreadful Boycott Song to the tune of Hava Nagila for the instant, captive audience that the protest provides her.

Don’t forget to come to the Zionist Federation’s Ahava Buycott on 20th and 21st November and get 10% off all goods in time for Chanukah and Christmas and also shop at the other stores on Monmouth Street, which are also under pressure because of the repetitive and disruptive anti-Israel protests.

Ahava is at 39, Monmouth Street, Covent Garden (Leicester Square tube). Alternatively, go to www.ahava.com to order online.

Here are some clips and pics. of the day:

Another attack at Ahava; legislation required.

Ahava is all perfectly legal. Come to the Buycott on 20 and 21 Nov.

Ahava is all perfectly legal. Come to the Buycott on 20 and 21 Nov.

With the incessant physical attacks on the Ahava shop in London’s Covent Garden it is about time that legislation was enacted to deal with the continuous intimidation of staff and disruption to business.

Last saturday anti-Israel activists stormed the shop again. They wheeled in a concrete block and locked themselves on to it before throwing themselves to the floor making it impossible to remove them. The shop was closed for three hours and the police came. The activists were arrested for aggravated trespass.

In a recent court case anti-Israel activists were prosecuted for taking similar action towards the end of last year but were acquitted on all counts.

The case collapsed because Ahava failed to show up in court. Ahava claim they were given no notice of the case. Others say Ahava chose not to turn up and defend themselves for fear of heavy cross-examination over their product labeling.

Ahava labels its products “Made by Dead Sea Laboratories Ltd., Dead Sea, Israel.”

It seems to be uncontroversial but when you have an ideological hatred towards the Jewish state anything, and everything, will be picked up on.

The Ahava factory that makes the products is based on the Dead Sea kibbutz of Mitzpe Shalem. It provides jobs in engineering, chemistry, research, and marketing & sales. There are 120 employees.

The main gripe for these Israel-haters is that Ahava’s products “come from stolen Palestinian natural resources in the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank, and are produced in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem. Don’t let the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker fool you—when you buy Ahava products you help finance the destruction of hope for a peaceful and just future for both Israelis and Palestinians”.

Well, we know that for them “peaceful and just” means the ending of the Jewish state.

But all this talk of illegality and mislabeling is a hoax. If you attend the Ahava protests you can view the many “Boycott Israel” signs and hear the constant calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. The protest is not about Ahava at all.

However, when the activists get to court they have very able solicitors who will expertly argue the law for ends to which Parliament did not intend.

They will argue that being on the West Bank Mitzpe Shalom is illegal and so as Ahava was not engaging in lawful activity when the activists invaded the shop the activists were not committing a trespass.

They are likely to be acquitted again and activists will continue to attack Ahava. Intimidated Ahava staff will continue to see their photos put up on extremist websites.

But both Mitzpe Shalom and the product labeling are legal. It is not the duty of a local magistrate to decide the legal status of Mizpe Shalom. And as Ahava is an Israeli company and the Dead Sea is also in Israel the product labels are not a misrepresentation.

These are simple arguments that Ahava can make with the help of able, albeit expensive, legal representation.

But Ahava should not even need to make this case as it is being targeted solely because it is Israeli.

Britain should follow the French line and introduce the offence of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence against a group of people on account of their belonging to the Israeli nation.

A French anti-Israel activist was successfully prosecuted recently for damaging Israeli product packaging in a French supermarket. Other prosections are due to follow. This is being supported by Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisemitisme.

So come to the Ahava Buycott, arranged by the Zionist Federation on 20th and 21st November, where you will receive a 10% discount on all Ahava products and treatments and where you can stick two fingers up to the anti-Israel protesters. The address is Ahava, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden (near Leicester Square tube).

More importantly start lobbying your MPs for new legislation to protect Israeli products and businesses from being targeted solely because they are Israeli.