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.
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).
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.