A carload of people from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales made the 350 mile round trip down the M4 to Covent Garden on Saturday for the biweekly anti-Israel protest outside Ahava.
The anti-Israel campaigners are usually plentiful and have unlimited amounts of anti-Israel leaflets and Palestinian flags at hand. They scream their denunciations of Israel through their megaphones. In contrast, the one man and his dog of Israel’s supporters in the counter-demo. have just an Israeli flag and a megaphone.
Last saturday, though, the cavalry charge was on.
People who had heard about these insidious attempts to destroy Ahava’s saturday afternoon business came out in numbers to support Ahava.
They handed out the newly-printed leaflets containing a more balanced perspective of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also spoke to baffled passers-by about what was happening.
And this saturday even the anti-Israel protesters were, strangely, depleted.
I asked an Irishman standing nearby for his own thoughts on the protests. He sympathised with Israel as his own people “had suffered years of IRA terrorism”.
To make his point he then stormed the barricades and entered Ahava and was not seen to reappear for some time. My hunch is that the clever Ahava staff persuaded him into having one of their revitalising mineral treatments.
Another concern, though, was for the surrounding businesses. Ahava is popular, despite the protests, but the nearby shops suffer most from the aggressive anti-Israel posturing.
Saturday afternoon trade is crucial but the manager of the Venise Collection, the classy women’s bags and shoe shop next to Ahava, told me that passers-by don’t even notice his shop as their faces are turned to the noisy anti-Israel protest instead.
During the two hour protest Venise Collection took no money, although I have it on good authority that some of the women in the pro-Israel counter-demo. had to summon up all their powers of concentration to keep their minds on Israel and not rush in to buy a nice pair of Dolce and Gabbana heels.
For once the anti-Israel protesters seemed shell-shocked at not having the area virtually to themselves, but they’ll be back.
Midday-2pm on saturday 9th May outside Ahava, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, to be more precise.
Finally, though, the pro-Israel protesters, or, more precisely, those in favour of one Israeli and one Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace, are starting to get their act together.
Video and Photos of anti-Israel protest and the counter-demo.: