Tag Archives: covent garden

Ahava, London 9/11 2010

Ahava 9/11 2010

Ahava 9/11 2010

There are not many times that you can say that anti-Israel activists are outsung and outnumbered, but yesterday they were.

The usual mob of nothing-better-to-dos turned up outside Ahava in London’s Covent Garden to vent their hatred for the Jewish state.

Only one person brought along an Israeli flag. She said she came as she was worried that as it was Jewish New Year there would be no one around to stick up for Israel. Apart from her and a few others the pro-Israel pen was looking pretty sparse.

A lone protester

A lone protester

Then as the small pro-Israeli contingent were deciding where to break for lunch twelve Israeli tourists who had seen the protests outside Ahava came into the shop and then marched out again, filled the pen and sang Am Israel Chai, David Melech Yisrael, Hatikva and Hava Nagila (see first two clips below).

The anti-Israel mob became less interested in handing out their leaflets and more interesting in demonising the Israeli tourists, with some directing shouts of “racist scum” towards them (see beginning of third clip below).

The next lets-all-demonise-Israel (and anyone who supports it) event will be at midday outside Ahava on 25th September from midday.

Subdued activists before Israeli tourists arrived:

Ahava staff carry on under pressure

staff looking out from Ahava

staff looking out from Ahava

Imagine your journey into work worrying about what you might find when you arrive or whether your office might be violently stormed with you in it.

This is the daily fate of the Ahava staff who work in the shop on Monmouth Street in London’s Covent Garden.

As we all know by now Ahava lost two days of business when late last year the shop was invaded by activists who locked themselves inside while petrified staff looked on. Then last week the shop front was coated in red paint by a couple of “brave” souls who had covered their faces so as not to be picked out by CCTV.

Ahava after last week's paint attack

Ahava after last week's paint attack

Yesterday the usual mob of anti-Israel activists turned up en masse with an array of Palestinian and Communist flags and the usual “Boycott Israel” and “Free Palestine” paraphernalia. They were allowed to position themselves a couple of metres from Ahava’s shop door and hand out anti-Israel leaflets to passers-by.

Sadly, one can forget any solidarity from neighbouring shop-keepers for now; Ahava is being told by some to shut up shop and go online.

By yesterday the red paint had been mostly removed at great expense to Ahava. Remnants could still be seen above the shop.

And if you had ever wondered where all the money comes from to fund both the attacks and legal representation, they hold fundraisers:

On September 11th we are putting on a fundraising party to raise money to fund direct actions in support of Palestine, such as blockades of Ahava or Carmel Agrexco. Come on down, with a banging line up and an amazing space to have a party in (the Ratstar comes with 2 rooms of music, a cinema room and even a roof terrace, oh yes), there has never been a funner way to support a great cause. The day kicks off at 4pm, with workshops on direct action, …Palestine related film screenings and a Palestinian cafe. Music starts at 8pm. The night is free before 8pm, £5 suggested donation afterwards, but pay what you can afford. All money raised will go to pay for actions like this; http://london.indymedia.org/articles/2955

No chance of any of that money making it to the starving or malaria-ridden of Africa then, nor the the flood victims in Pakistan nor even to the Palestinians themselves who the activists claim to care so much about.

Meanwhile, here is Channel 10 of Israel’s interesting video clip about the boycott Israel movement. Look out for insightful comment from Lauren Booth.

Yesterday:

left-over red paint after midweek attack

left-over red paint after midweek attack

small pro-Israel counter-demo.

small pro-Israel counter-demo.

Anti-Israel activists on trial next week

A heavy police presence was required again last Saturday in Monmouth Street, Covent Garden as anti-Israel protesters gathered outside the Ahava shop for the fortnightly ritual of singing anti-Israel songs, parading anti-Israel slogans and giving out anti-Israel literature.

It rounded off a good week for the protesters after David Cameron seemed to hold Israel solely responsible for the suffering of the people of Gaza as well as expecting Israel to allow any ship to enter Gaza unchallenged.

Mindful of the fact that businesses on Monmouth Street are suffering due to these regular protests a small group of pro-Israel counter-demonstrators gave out leaflets which encouraged people to shop there while the anti-Israel protesters continued with their usual leaflets that scream: “Boycott Ahava”.

The website of the International Solidarity Movement, which helps to organise the protests, states: “Police in overzealous form initially attempted to claim that a poster with a picture of a small forlorn looking Palestinian child holding a barbed wire could offend passers by. Despite threatening arrest, demonstrators successfully argued their case and were able to continue to display the picture which serves only to set out the emotional distress many Palestinian children endure.”

And on 9th, 10th, 11th August anti-Israel activists are in court once again. The website goes on to state:

“In september 2009, activists blockaded the shop to prevent it from trading with the public, in December 2009 the action was repeated. Where activists set out to do what the government, Camden Trading Standards and the police have so far refused to do, stop the trade in illegal settlement goods, they are now due in court to prove their actions were justified.”

Meanwhile, the next anti-Israel protest outside Ahava is on 14th August from midday.

Anti-Israel activists taunt Covent Garden shoppers

Around 30 anti-Israel protesters stood outside Ahava’s Covent Garden shop on saturday taunting Ahava’s shoppers with repeated cries of “Shame on you” during the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sponsored fortnightly protest against the Jewish state.

The usual “Boycott Ahava” placards were supplemented by “Free Gaza” ones, which gives lie to the claim that this is just an anti-Ahava protest.

It is one of the many protests in this country that discriminate against just one country; Israel.

In addition, the protesters continuously called for the ending of Israel; the anthem “From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free”, was sung over and over again.

The surrounding shops are suffering and the manager of The Loft told me how the shop opposite to his, Miss Lala’s Boudoir, had closed down due to the disruptive anti-Israel protests.

He was also very concerned for his own business, a secondhand designer clothes shop where you can buy and sell the likes of Paul Smith, Joseph, Jimmy Choo, Prada, D&G etc.

The anti-Israel protests are causing adjacent businesses to close

The anti-Israel protests are causing adjacent businesses to close

All shoppers coming and going from the Ahava shop were booed and taunted with a chorus of “shame on you”.

There were about 12 pro-Israel counter-demonstrators in all, one of which was from Turkey, which goes to show that not all Turks are following the Islamist line of Prime Minister Erdogan. Erdogan has, of course, allowed highly anti-Semitic programmes to be broadcast on Turkish television and sees great benefit to himself and his Islamist party, AKP, in stoking hatred of Israel in Turkey.

The counter-demonstrators were also joined by someone who had recently chosen to do charity work in Deheishe, a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem on the West Bank, but was subjected to quite a terrifying ordeal during her short stay there.

It does seem, however, that as more and more neighbouring shops feel the effects of the noisy anti-Israel protests it is Ahava that is being blamed, with the possible knock-on consequence of Ahava’s landlord refusing to renew the lease at the end of its current term.

The police have no powers to limit the numbers or noise of the anti-Israel protesters or their taunting of innocent shoppers. If these protesters are so concerned about Israel’s policies they should do what other people do when they have issues, speak to their local MP.

Taunting innocent bystanders and causing nearby businesses to close down is not the way we do things in democratic Britain.

Anti-Ahava activists – A case study

Michael

Michael

Despite police restrictions on the amount of protesters allowed at the bi-weekly saturday anti-Israel protests outside Ahava in Covent Garden, London chaos reigned as normal.

At a specially convened meeting where all sides, including the manager of Ahava and the owners of neighbouring shops, met with the police to discuss ways of minimising disruption to business it was resolved that anti-Israel and pro-Israel activists would be limited to 14 activists each and that noise would be kept to a minimum.

As expected the anti-Israel activists pleaded ignorance of the meeting and turned up in their usual numbers far exceeding the limit.

Their confidence was boosted by the recent decision at Hove Crown Court to let seven activists free, on the grounds of “lawful excuse” (they “believed” that Israel was guilty of war crimes in Gaza), even though they had confessed to causing £180,000 of damage to a factory that supplies Israel with military parts. The verdicts were returned after the judge had given an anti-Israel summing up before the jury deliberated.

So Covent Garden businesses will continue to lose money due to the disruption caused by the protests (apparently one shop has already gone under). With the precedent of “lawful excuse” excusing £180,000 worth of damage things could go from bad to worse for businesses on Monmouth Street.

Having covered the protests for the last six months one gets to know some of the anti-Israel protagonists so here is a quick case study of some of them:

The articulate businessman:

He is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and has his own business and a family. He feels that Israel/Palestine is the issue of our time. He protested against apartheid South Africa and now wishes to do the same for the Palestinians.

All well and good, even if you don’t believe that Israel is an apartheid state. But then he talks about 63 years of occupation which belies his care for the Palestinians. His main concern goes all the way back to 1947, well before he was born.

He doesn’t want Israel to exist as a Jewish state and so joins the boycott outside Ahava. But what is most discomforting is that an activist who has his own business and family will quite happily seek to put pressure on another business and its manager and staff who have their own families to feed and all because of his beliefs.

At the beginning of the video of him below you will see Michael who is a fixture at anti-Israel events. As you can see his repertoire consists of walking around thrusting a photograph of dead children in people’s faces.


The charismatic ringleader:

This activist in the footage below is present at every anti-Ahava protest and starts the singing off. No one else has the courage to start the anti-Israel music until she signals.

She repeatedly tells me that I must be infatuated with her due to the my camera being constantly on her. I am but not for the reasons that she gives. I am infatuated about understanding why someone is so devoted to ending the Jewish state judging by her song in this footage.



The enigma:

Below is Ben. I bumped into Ben in Golders Green recently and we had a very nice conversation. You could almost invite Ben for Shabbat dinner and break bread with him, that is until you see him screaming “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” (see above video also).

The martyr:

This activist below seems to like to fling himself towards the Ahava shop. He did it again yesterday. With the Hove Seven in mind he might be feeling left out. He seems determined to get himself arrested for the cause.

The conspiracy theorist:

The tiny Jewish anti-Zionist contingent were completely absent from yesterday’s proceedings and this is one thing I do not understand. The absence of the yellow IJAN banner didn’t help the other anti-Israel activists who love to point to Jews who are on their side.

But surely, if this is the “issue of our time” they would be at every protest as opposed to absenting themselves when the sun shines. Shame on them.

Siege of Ahava continues

The objective of the bi-weekly Saturday anti-Israel protest outside Ahava in Covent Garden is to force the shop to lose trade and eventually close.

In addition to the protests, the activists are now resorting to litigation.

Ahava is an Israeli company that provides skin care products made from Dead Sea minerals. Its only UK shop is on Monmouth Street.

One activist told me at today’s protest that they are suing Ahava for mislabeling goods. “Ahava’s going down,” he claimed.

40 anti-Israel activists stood outside Ahava today waving Palestinian flags and handing out leaflets to passers-by (photos below).

Headlined “Boycott Ahava” the leaflets claim Ahava’s products are “Stolen Goods” as they are “produce of the West Bank”. There was a small counter-demonstration of pro-Israel supporters.

After two hours the demonstrators moved on to the entrance to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington where their ranks were swelled (photos below).

This time there were 70 anti-Israel activists to just one Israel flag-bearer; Jonathan Hoffman.

The second protest was aimed at the environment wildlife photography competition sponsored by Veolia.

Veolia is a British company that provides environmental services to councils like Camden. For example, it helps to prepare the ground for events taking place in Regent’s Park and cleans up afterwards.

Veolia also stands accused of helping to dump Israeli waste in the West Bank and generally profiting from the “illegal occupation”.

Whoever can categorically say that the occupation is either legal or illegal is better than some of the wisest legal brains in the world.

But for these self-proclaimed lawyers there is no doubt; Israel’s occupation is illegal. However, when you ask many anti-Israel activists to cite any relevant court decisions or resolutions they go mysteriously blank.

And while some of these anti-Israel protestors may be motivated by dark forces others are not even anti-Zionist. However misguided, the latter honestly hold the belief that Israel is at fault by occupying the Palestinians. For them, if Israel unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank then peace would miraculously break out.

And when I say “dark forces” one cannot help but recall the notorious imagery of Jewish shops being singled out for boycott in Germany in the 1930s.

Such an analogy was rejected by an activist I spoke to because “these protests are valid as Israel is controlling the Palestinians and their resources and abusing their human rights and committing war crimes”.

When I asked him why he didn’t protest against and boycott Chinese, Iranian and Sudanese businesses, for example, he replied that “those countries didn’t create Israel and aren’t supported by the British government like Israel is”.

Being British he obviously feels a heavy weight of responsibility.

I suggested that maybe he should then boycott American and British goods due to the anti-war movement’s claims of high civilian casualties in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He laughed and dismissed this as a “silly idea”.

Of course boycotting America and British goods is a “silly idea” as it would be impossible to survive, but in only boycotting Israeli goods these activists are simply being hypocritical.

That said, if the unlikely occurs and the anti-Israel protestors manage to close down Ahava it will be one of the biggest boosts in their well financed campaign of delegitimising Israel.

Ahava in Covent Garden is profitable and the manager continues to claim that the anti-Israel protests actually attract business by drawing attention to the shop.

I hope she is right but, meanwhile, the defamation of Israel continues apace.

Saturday’s protest outside Ahava, Covent Garden 12-2pm (click to enlarge):

Saturday’s protest outside the Natural History Museum 2pm-4pm (click to enlarge):

AQSA. AQSA. Read all about it!

Available at all good British Universities now.

Why read the Jewish Chronicle or the Jewish News, those mere organs of the all-powerful Israel Lobby, when you can get the unvarnished truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from Aqsa News? The January 2010 issue is out now.

And, to boot, Aqsa News is free (which is a huge bonus especially as the JC executives are probably, at this moment, discussing when to push the JC’s cover price up to the £1.10 mark).

Anyway, I digress. Aqsa News is 14 pages long and packed with content and devoid of annoying adverts.

There were three adverts but two were for Interpal, the subject of a Charity Commission inquiry after certain allegations were made about it in the BBC’s Panorama.  The third advert simply asks for donations to the Ummah Medical Academy in India (they need £76,500 urgently)

Aqsa News doesn’t waste its precious coverage on sport. But if you like your news slanted towards total condemnation of Israel and you want to see how its imminent destruction is coming along, then Aqsa News is the only paper to get a hold of.

To be fair Aqsa News doesn’t much like Mahmoud Abbas either (which makes you start to think where its real sympathies lie. Hamas anyone?). In his lengthy article Tom Charles states:

“The Palestinian Authority forces undermine Palestine’s democracy and prop up the quisling leadership of the unelected Mahmoud Abbas.”

There are reviews of books by Ben White (Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide) and by Jonathan Cook (Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiment in Human Despair).

There are numerous articles on the various firms and countries being targeted by pro-Palestine activists for doing business with Israel. Volvo, Brimar, Alstom and the German government are all taking a hit.

Another headline screams: “Holland to investigate Origins of Ahava Products” (the false premise is that Ahava has a laboratory on the Mitzpe Shalom settlement “and this is in contravention of the Geneva Convention which forbids an occupying Power from making use of the Occupied Territory’s natural resources.”)

There is also a Question and Answer piece on “Why Boycott matters” and a Palestinain Refugees Facts and Figures section (Did you know that “one in three refugees worldwide is a Palestinian”?)

Ahava is a funny one. Hands up if you knew that Ahava has a nice shop in Covent Garden. I didn’t until I heard that the pro-Palestine Campaign was going to protest outside it.

I went down to the shop to have a look round and to see how business was. The manageress told me business was good, even better when there is a pro-Palestinian protest outside. 

However, the protests can be frightening for the staff working in the shop especially, as happened recently, protesters handcuffed themselves inside the shop while screaming abuse.

Anyway, before I knew it I was persuaded to spend £31 on a Dead Sea Liquid Salt and a Dermud sensitive skin relief.

Sadly, I spent the evening screaming my flat down when I seem to have over-applied the Liquid Salt. So, thank you to the pro-Palestine Campaign for making me £31 poorer, Ahava £31 richer and for causing me intense agony!

Back to Aqsa News. If all this stuff is getting a bit heavy and upsetting for the naive young mind (and some older minds) there is a crossword. Some testing clues for you:

6 across: Palestine’s ‘catastrophe’ in 1948 (Arabic) (5)

9 across: Political movement with the aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine (7)

3 down: Third holiest city in Islam (9)

5 down: Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (8)

7 down: Arabic word for Palestinian uprising against Israel (8)

There also some cartoons like that of Palestinians being arrested and assaulted by Israeli soldiers and another of a black South African woman consoling a distraught Palestinian woman in a cemetry.

Just in case you can’t get a hold of your copy of Aqsa News (it isn’t available in your local WH Smith library) then read it online or go to wwww.aqsa.org.uk. Lots of interesting facts and figures to digest there, like:

“All the land of historic Palestine is now occupied by Israel.”

and

The UN has re-affirmed the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland over 100 times, in accordance with international law.

Apart from these two statements being highly controversial (and factually incorrect) it doesn’t sound like the author wants Israel to continue for too much longer.

Aqsa News is available from, and helping to radicalise, all good British Universities near you now!