Tag Archives: monmouth street

“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:

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.

The Battle of Monmouth Street

On Saturday some 80 anti-Israel protesters and 15 pro-Israel counter-demontrators crowded in front of Ahava in Covent Garden.

For the first hour there was actually quite a good atmosphere as a small band showed up which played a medley of old Communist tunes including The Internationale,which they duly murdered.

After an hour the atmosphere turned more menacing. The Croydon Division of the the English Defence League (EDL) pitched up and unfurled a Flag of St. George, which acted as a lighting rod for the anti-Israel protesters. For the next hour the EDL group and anti-Israel protesters faced off and exchanged insults.

The usual accusations of EDL collusion with the “Zionists” are now being made in an attempt to smear as racist those who support Israel’s right to exist.

Of course there was no collusion. In Britain you cannot stop anyone turning up, standing where they want, wearing what they want and saying what they want. You can only make complaints, of which there were many.

I understand that at the next anti-Israel Ahava protest on 28th August the possibility of yet another pen, for the EDL, is being investigated. Not that anyone sticks to their pens anyway.

That said it is of the utmost hypocricy to make claims of racism while at the same time calling for a wordwide boycott of Israeli goods and people and more to the point Jewish Israeli ones (anything Christian or Muslim Israeli is exempt from boycott).

Apart from the anti-Israel Ahava protests there is also the continuing anti-Israeli demonstration outside Marks and Spencer every thursday night from 6 to 8pm.

But Monmouth Street is very narrow. There is no room for almost 100 protesters antagonistic towards each other especially with cars constantly sweeping through and protesters all over the road.

And on the 28th the crowds will likely be even bigger with the EDL there. Something for the police to sort out before something goes drastically wrong.

Some pics. (click to enlarge) and a clip:

Anti-Ahava activists cleared of all charges

ism-london.org.uk

ism-london.org.uk

Four anti-Israel activists were today cleared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court of all charges after they locked themselves onto concrete-filled oil drums inside the Israeli-owned Ahava shop on Monmouth Street in London’s Covent Garden forcing it to close down for one day in September 2009 and another day in December 2009.

Taherali Gulamhussein, Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis and Ms Crouch, all from London, were found not guilty of failing to comply with a police officer’s orders to leave the shop (Ss.68&69 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994).

The activists insisted that they were legally justified in their actions as they claim the shop’s activities are illegal because the products on sale in the shop originate from Mitzpe Shalem, an Israeli settlement on the West Bank, and are deliberately mislabeled as “Made in Israel”.

Ms Crouch commented on the acquittal: “This is only a small victory in the wider campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. We’ll continue to challenge corporate complicity in the occupation and Israel’s impunity on the international stage.”

The website of the International Solidarity Movement states that on the first day of trial, prosecutors dropped aggravated trespass charges. This would have required the prosecution to demonstrate Ahava was engaged in lawful activity but, apparently, the CPS decided that this was not something they would attempt to prove.

And, according to the website, the Ahava store’s manager’s failure to testify contributed to the acquittals on all remaining charges.

The case also apparently hinged on a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) guidance to retailers:

“The Government considers that traders would be misleading consumers and would therefore almost be certainly committing an offence, if they were to declare produce from the OPT (including from the West Bank) as ‘Produce of Israel’. This would apply irrespective of whether the produce was from a Palestinian producer or from an Israeli settlement in the OPT. This is because the area does not fall within the internationally recognised borders of the state of Israel” (11 December 2009).

The activists were therefore found to have acted lawfully.

Another activist, Mr Matthews, said: “The message is clear. If your company is involved in apartheid and war crimes and occupying Palestinian land, people will occupy your shop.”

Sarah Colborne, of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said ‘it is the owners of Ahava who should be in court, not just for their role in helping to cement an unlawful occupation, but for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by exploiting the natural resources of an occupied territory for profit.’

This case comes after last month’s case at Hove Crown Court when seven anti-war activists were cleared of all charges after breaking into the EDO arms equipment factory in Brighton and causing £200,000 worth of damage.

In that case the defendants claimed they were trying to prevent the factory from making arms for Israel during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. But in his directions before dismissing them to consider a verdict Judge George Bathurst-Norman told the jury: “”You may think that hell on earth would not be an understatement of what the Gazans suffered at that time” and said of group leader Christopher Osmond: “The jury may feel his efforts investigating the company merit the George Cross.” The Crown Prosecution Service may still investigate these directions.

Numbers for next Saturday’s anti-Israel protest outside Ahava on Monmouth Street in Covent Garden from midday until 2pm are certain to be swelled after yet another triumph for anti-Israel activists in the UK.

(Another recent anti-Israel protest outside Ahava).

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.